The Beaver Valley Motor Coach
Company (BVMCCo) had its roots, as many older systems did, from the street railway
industry. The first line in this history started as a horsecar line in 1885 from Beaver
Falls and New Brighton in Beaver County to Leetsdale in Allegheny County.
This original company was
known as the Beaver Valley Traction Company (BVT). It had a common ownership with the
Pittsburgh Railways Company (PRCo) through the Philadelphia Company. Although there was a
common ownership, the two systems were never connected although there were plans to do so.
On February 29, 1924, The
BVMCCo was formed as a subsidiary of BVT. This original service consisted of 2 feeder
routes to the BVT rail lines. It is not clear what model buses were purchased for this
initial service but it is believed to have been Mack AB's.
The first rail to bus
conversion occurred on September 1, 1924 when the Riverview car line was replaced. BVMCCo
then added a route from Rochester to Colona on September 15, 1924 by replacing an
independent operator that was operating without PSC approval. The next rail to bus
conversion occurred in April of 1925, by extending the Leetsdale to Sewickley shuttle bus
route, after Ambridge and BVT officials failed to reach a satisfactory agreement on the
costs of street reconstruction on Merchant Street. Street railway companies were required
by PA State law to assist in the costs of maintaining the streets its cars traveled on.
In 1926, a bridge was closed
down between New Brighton and Beaver Falls so that the Pennsylvania Rail Road could
relocate its main line trackage. This resulted in the first emergency bus replacement
route. Several used buses were acquired from other systems to be used for this service.
Once the old PRR bridge was converted over to auto traffic in 1928, rail service was
resumed and the used buses were disposed of.
BVT entered receivership in
1933 due to heavy ridership losses. As the Philadelphia Company commonly owned PRCo and
BVT and acted as the receiver, some Pittsburgh Motor Coach Company equipment was
transferred over to the BVMCCo. These buses were old Yellow and Twin Coaches which were
used to replace the rail service on the Beaver to Vanport segment of the system.
At this time also, the idea
of building a lightweight bus was thought of by Farber Baum, who was the Philadelphia
Company's receiver for the BVT. The first of the Beaver Coaches hit the road by the end of
1933 and proved very successful. The history of the Beaver
Coach can be found at the Ohio Museum of Transportation's Web Site.
New Beaver Coaches continued
to be added to the BVMCCo roster between 1933 and 1937. During this time period as well
was the elimination of a rail service with bus replacement in a three stage abandonment.
In 1933, the rail service was cut back to Rochester from Ambridge and then in 1935 it was
cut back to Junction Park. Finally on August 10, 1937 the remainder of the rail service
for the BVT was abandoned and replaced by the BVMCCo buses.
Baum left the Philadelphia
Company and took control of the BVMCCo in 1941 however in 1939, Baum purchased the
Woodlawn & Southern Motor Coach Company (W&S) from the Jones & Laughlin Steel
Corp. This company was established to provide service from the J&L steel mill to
nearby communities for the workers. This company as well originated from a street railway
After Baum assumed control of
the BVMCCo in 1941, the W&S was maintained as a separate but affiliated company and
became a large purchaser of the Beaver Coach. W&S was a purchaser of Macks and later
Twins until Baum obtained ownership of the company. 1941 also saw the start of service
expansion with 2 local service extensions and 2 new industrial routes to serve mills.
Another line was also started
by Baum and this was the Ambridge Motor Coach Company. It is unclear as to when this
company came into existence but operated a loop line in Ambridge and utilized used and
sometimes borrowed equipment. Just a few buses could hold down this service and this line
retained its own identity.
Also in the 1940's, another
company was absorbed into the BVMCCo. This was Hilltop Bus Lines and originally ran
service between Rochester and Zelienople and a local line between Beaver Falls and
Rochester. This line was started in 1930. While running along a similar route to the
existing BVT local car line, it wasn't in direct competition as it served areas not served
by the car line. This company also retained its separate identity under Baum.
The BVMCCo entered
receivership a second time in 1954 for a short period of time following the death of Baum
in 1953. The control of the company passed to David G. Figley who was the company
treasurer. The BVMCCo and its other operating companies, except Beaver Coach which had
closed operations in 1953 due to losing money, remained fairly constant in operations.
Major changes started taking
place in 1960 when Beaver Tours was started as a charter brokerage service. In 1962, the
BVMCCo entered interstate service with the take over of the old Eastern Greyhound Lines
route between Pittsburgh and East Liverpool, OH. The newly acquired line had an extension
added from Beaver Falls to Ellwood City in in 1965.
The early 60's also saw the
consolidation of operations of the W&S, Ambridge Motor Coach and Hilltop Bus Lines
into the BVMCCo facility. This move was done to try and conserve money by eliminating
multiple garages. The 4 companies still continued to maintain separate identities however.
1970 saw the end of the
W&S on December 31 of that year. Hilltop followed shortly afterwards in 1971. The
Ambridge Motor Coach Company service was not ended at this time and continued until 1977
when it was sold to McCarter Transit Company. Service on the local lines of BVMCCo
continued to drop through the 1960's and early 70's to the point that all local service
was dropped by January 31, 1972. Only the charter and line haul service, which included
the Pittsburgh to Beaver Falls run, remained.
During the 70's, the only
glimmer of hope for the BVMCCo was the leasing of 4 1964 GM TDH5303 transit coaches from
PAT in Pittsburgh. These buses came from a settlement of a dispute over operating
subsidies regarding a publicly owned transit system operating in the privately owned
carriers territories without compensation. The 4 bus lease was the operating subsidy from
PAT to the BVMCCo. in the settlement. This settlement also involved Suburban Lines of
Washington, PA and Lincoln Lines of Irwin but those two companies received cash subsidies.
Two strikes, one in 1972 and
a 5 month strike in 1977 didn't help the situation. Until 1977, Beaver County provided no
operating subsidies and the 1977 strike ended after Beaver County agreed to provide some
funding. Even with the funding, money was tight and the BVMCCo abandoned its use of the
Pittsburgh Greyhound Terminal space to save money and made cash fares mandatory to do away
with accounting for tickets.
1978 saw more cuts for the
company when they cut back the East Liverpool run to Vanport, the Ellwood City Line was
discontinued and weekend service on all lines was eliminated and deep cuts in the weekday
schedule took place. This action violated the subsidy agreement with Beaver County which
then asked PAT to provide service over the existing BVMCCo line from Pittsburgh to Beaver
Falls. as well as provide additional service.
BVMCCo's last day of
operation was on January 12, 1979 and PAT assumed operations of the Pittsburgh - Beaver
Falls run on January 15, 1979. The new route, 18G Beaver Valley Express, operated closed
door from Pittsburgh to the Beaver County line. A restriction imposed on PAT regarding
local passengers on its 16A Aliquippa route between Ambridge and Sewickley was lifted at
the same time. PAT also provided two other routes that were subsidized by Beaver County.
The Beaver Tours charter
rights were sold to McCarter Transit Company (current operator for the Beaver County
Transit Authority) and most of the useable equipment was sold to Greenlawn Transit Line in
Columbus OH. This included the four leased PAT TDH5303's that were sold to the BVMCCo, at
the time of the abandonment petition in 1979, for $1 each due to their poor condition.
BVMCCo 521 was an
oddity. It was a GM PD4104 that was repaired at some point with some
PD4106 body parts resulting in a rather odd looking coach.
Towards the end especially,
BVMCCo was known for its dilapidated mix of used equipment it used for service. With the
exception of 2 charter buses it purchased new in the 1960's, BVMCCo purchased used GM's
almost exclusively during the 1960's and 70's. The Beaver Coaches were no longer in
service by the early 1970's. It was not uncommon to see old looks, new looks, standard
intercity and even an ex-Greyhound Scenicruiser running its Pittsburgh service in a mix
of colors. Most of it was in rather poor condition however they ran without many
PAT no longer operates the
Beaver County service as Beaver County formed its own transit authority and contracted
McCarter Transit Company to operate the service with BCTA buses.