Monday, September 24, 2012

Erie Public Transit History 1867 to 1967 Erie PA

Erie City Passenger Railway Company, 202-222 State Street. GE Erie Plant photo No. VD2.

Bicentennial Review of Erie Transit

-Published in the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority 1975 Annual Report

Erie's first bus line carried passengers from the foot of State Street to Federal Hill at 26th and Peach. It was Bill Loesch's Omnibus Line, with headquarters in South Erie House at the southern terminus of the route. An advertisement in the 1867 edition of the Erie Business Directory boasted: "Having refitted and refurnished this house and supplied it with every means of comfort, I respectfully invite calls from the public, assuring them that they will find me prepared to do them justice."

A single ticket cost 10 cents or 100 for $8. Children's fare was 20 for $1. Loesch did a thriving business.

Each omnibus was drawn by two fine horses, according to the illustration in the business directory. The driver sat on top and frequently blew loudly on his long tin horn. The periodic tooting of the horn, accompanied by the noise of the wheels on the cobble-stoned streets gave the omnibus the name 'Bill Loesch's Band.'

Unfortunatley for Loesch, the year 1867 marked the founding of the Erie Passenger Railway Company. Its purpose was to lay tracks and provide street car service to the community. Loesch held a state charter along the most profitable route, but a requirement of the charter was that he provide regular service every day. One morning, Loesch found that every one of his horses had been poisoned. He was unable to replace them in time to save his charter.

Railway Formed

The Passenger Railway Company had ambitious plans. They included laying of 7.7 miles of road at $8,000 a mile, purchase eight cars at $1,200 each, 40 horses at $150 each, and construction of a stable at $5,000.

The first horse drawn street cars were placed into service in 1868, the main line beginning at 2nd and Holland Streets, proceeding to State and south to Turnpike, then to Peach and continuing south to the stables at the South Erie Turn Hall beyond Ridge Road, now 26th Street.

Fare was seven cents and the novelty made the trolleys an immediate success. However, the fare was reduced to a nickel as the novelty wore off and passenger volume declined. Horses wore out and the struggling company replaced them with mules.

Switch to Electric

1888 saw the birth of the Erie Electric Motor Company. Within a year, electrified cars were carrying passengers and once more the street car became a fad. The initial vehicles were brilliantly lighted summer cars with passengers seated back to back. 

The company aggressively laid trackage throughout the city and out into the county in every direction. The existing system was refurbished with new track. A forest grove, then known as Hoffman's Grove, was leased and then purchased. It was a picnickers paradise. The company renamed it Waldameer. Visitors flocked there by trolley...In May, 1918, the nickel fare was raised to seven cents or four for a quarter. The number of stops was reduced. Waldameer was sold...In 1921, ridership dropped 20 percent from the previous year. The automobile was taking its toll.

The First Bus

In September, 1924, the Erie Railways Company was formed to take over the street car system. The following year, the parent firm organized the Erie Coach Company to operate a bus line. On December 7, 1925, the first motor bus left Perry Square, proceeded out 5th Street to Liberty and south to 30th and west to Elmwood. The last trolley completed its run on May 2, 1935. In 1955, Erie Coach Company came under new ownership.

Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority

Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority was founded on September 20, 1966...On December 27, 1966 the public authority acquired the bus system. Under the agreement with Erie Coach Company, the EMTA rented the company's bus fleet and service facilities while the modern new 45-passenger buses were being manufactured...By Christmas of 1967 fifty new buses had arrived...The entirely new fleet of 50 buses was financed two-thirds by the federal government, one-sixth by the state, and one-sixth by the city and county. The city paid 60 percent of the local share and the county 40 percent.

Find more fun facts about the History of Erie, Pennsylvania at Old Time Erie

No comments:

Post a Comment