Buffalo Transit Company

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Patch depicting company logo.

Buffalo Transit Company Inc. (BTC) is a former suburban public transportation provider for the eastern and southern suburbs of Erie County, New York. Most service originated at Lafayette Square in Downtown Buffalo.

History

Founded by William H. Pennsyres in the year 1924 as the Buffalo and Akron Transit Company, the first route ran from Downtown Buffalo through to Cheektowaga, Clarence, ending in the Town of Akron, New York. A short two years later, in 1926, a second route was added, originating from Downtown Buffalo and reaching to Cheektowaga, Depew, Lancaster, Alden, Darien, Alexander, and ending in Attica. The service was previously operated by the International Bus Company (IBC), a subsidiary of the International Traction Company, the parent company also of the International Railway Company (a rival to the BTC). In 1927, the name of the company changed to the Buffalo Transit Company, Inc.

In 1930, service was added into the Village of Williamsville replacing service previously offered by the International Railway Company's inter-urban rail line. By this time, Buffalo Transit Company, Inc. serviced many of the townships east of Buffalo.

The BTC expanded further, expanding their presence south of the city, instead of north; first acquiring the Erie County Motor Coach Lines in 1931, adding service into Orchard Park, West Seneca, Gardenville and Ebenezer, and then in 1946, acquiring the Hamburg Bus Company, adding three lines; the Lakeshore/Camp route, the South Park route, and the Abbott Road Route. In addition to the Hamburg Bus Company, the single-line Red Bus Lines was added to their network, reaching further into the southern portion of Cheektowaga. The BTC never realized service into East Aurora, with Central Greyhound Lines of New York serving East Aurora on its Buffalo-Olean-Port Allegany line run, and Genesee Bus Lines, serving East Aurora on its Buffalo-Hornell or Buffalo-Wellsville line runs.

By that time, most BTC vehicles originated in Downtown Buffalo, at today's present-day Lafayette Square. Efforts were made to allow transfers between vehicles with little wait. Like the International Railway Company, the system operated on a hub and spoke system, resulting in many passengers transferring between BTC routes at Lafayette Square.

In 1943, Pennsyres sold the BTC to Jerry Campbell, a salesman for Yellow Coach, the bus manufacturing division for General Motors.

In 1961, the Niagara Frontier Transit System (NFTS) purchased the BTC for $1.1 million, and after three years, virtually all traces of the past company ceased to exist, with many NFTS routes in the City of Buffalo continuing past the city limits, well into the suburbs. [1]

Timeline of important events

  • 1924: Company organized as Buffalo and Akron Transit Company by William H. Pennsyres. The first route operates between Buffalo and Akron via Cheektowaga and Clarence. Services to Williamsville along Main Street were provided as a replacement for streetcar/trolley service of the Buffalo and Williamsville Electric Railway.
  • 1926: A second route is added between Buffalo and Attica, via Cheektowaga, Depew, Lancaster, Alden, Darien, and Alexander.
  • 1927: Company name is changed, and is now known as Buffalo Transit Company.
  • 1930: A additional route is added to Williamsville ("K"), taking over abandoned inter-urban service of the International Railway Company.
  • 1931: Buffalo Transit Company begins focusing on points south of Buffalo, acquiring Erie County Motor Coach Lines, adding service into Orchard Park, West Seneca, Gardenville and Ebenezer.
  • 1943: William H. Pennsyres sells Buffalo Transit Company to Jerry Campbell, a salesman for Yellow Coach.
  • 1946: Buffalo Transit Company acquires the three lines of the Hamburg Bus Company, a line serving the lake shore and Camp Road, a line serving Hamburg via South Park, and a line serving Hamburg via Abbott Road. Additionally, the services of the previous Red Bus Lines (Buffalo, NY) added a line operating between Buffalo and William/Losson Road.
  • 1961: Buffalo Transit Company is sold to Niagara Frontier Transit System, for $1.1 million.
  • 1965: Buffalo Transit Company legacy routes were folded into Niagara Frontier Transit System route structure, with many routes becoming extensions of Niagara Frontier Transit System routes. With the exception of some Buffalo Transit Company coaches operating in Niagara Frontier Transit System livery, there are no longer signs of Buffalo Transit Company's existence.

Routes

Unlike the NFTS, the BTC used letters to distinguish between individual routes, while the Niagara Frontier Transit System and International Railway Company utilized numbers to designate routes. After the NFTS takeover in 1961, remnants of lettered routes, except in the case of a letter branch following a number were eliminated. In many cases, however, the original letter followed the route number used by the NFTS route in the city. For instance, some service into Alden and Lancaster became route "4B". Other variations may have existed and were dealt with different letters.

In addition, buses on BTC routes did not serve passengers whose trips operated wholly in the City of Buffalo. To accomplish this, drivers would only board passengers between Downtown Buffalo and city limits, and discharge only within the city limits while heading towards Downtown Buffalo.

Route

number

Route

name

Route travelled or service area Service began Route replaced by
NFTS route in 1961
Division Notes
A Abbott Road Downtown Buffalo, Ridge Road, Abbott Road to Hamburg 1946 Route 35 Lakeshore Replaced service previously operated by Hamburg Bus Lines.
B Lancaster-Alden Downtown Buffalo, Broadway, Village of Lancaster, Broadway to Alden 1926 Route 4 Broadway
C Camp Road Downtown Buffalo, Hamburg Turnpike, Camp Road, to Hamburg 1946 Route 37 Lakeshore Replaced service previously operated by Hamburg Bus Lines.
E Electric Ave Downtown Buffalo, Hamburg Turnpike, Ridge Road, South Park, Electric, Lake, South Park to Hamburg 1946 Route 36 Lakeshore Replaced service previously operated by Hamburg Bus Lines.
F Gardenville-Seneca 1931 Route 15 Broadway Replaced service previously operated by Erie County Motor Coach Lines.
G Genesee Downtown Buffalo, Broadway, Bailey, Genesee to Airport and Wende Facilities Routes 24 Broadway
H Harlem Route 4 Broadway
J Sloan Downtown Buffalo, Broadway, Bailey, William, Harlem to Cayuga Creek Route 4 Broadway
K Kensington Downtown Buffalo, Main Street, Kensington Avenue, Harlem, Cleveland, Beech, Maryvale, Cayuga to Wehrle Route 13 (Suburban) Williamsville
L Cheektowaga-Depew 1946 Route 2 Broadway Replaced previous service by Red Bus Lines.
M Main-Williamsville Downtown Buffalo, Main Street, to Transit Road 1924 Routes 8, 13 Williamsville
O Orchard Park 1931 Route 15 Lakeshore Replaced previous service by Erie County Motor Coach Lines.
R Ridge Road 1946 Route 27 Lakeshore Replaced service previously operated by Hamburg Bus Lines.
S South Park-Scranton 1946 Route 37 Lakeshore Replaced service previously operated by Hamburg Bus Lines.
W William Route 4 Broadway Replaced service previously operated by Red Bus Lines.

All time roster

This list is incomplete. You can help!

Transit and suburban bus

The Buffalo Transit Company, upon it's early beginnings, relied on a number of different bus manufacturers to provide its rolling stock. Many of the major manufacturers provided at least one vehicle to the BTC fleet.

Some of the earlier manufacturers names included Twin Coach, American Car and Foundry, Ford, Mack, Yellow Coach, and General Motors. By the mid 1940's, the Buffalo Transit Company began standardizing their fleet, and became an operation featuring almost exclusively General Motors buses. Of note, Buffalo Transit provided the Buffalo region with the first order of GMC New Look buses.

The buses were distributed between three depots; the Lakeshore Division, the Broadway Division, and the Williamsville Division.

Fleet number(s) Thumbnail Serial

Numbers

Build
year
Manufacturer Model Engine Transmission Notes
2 042 1941 Yellow TG-2405
5-7 072-074 1942 Yellow TG-2405
30 1928 Twin Coach
31 1928 ACF
32 1929 ACF Parlor bus
33 Ford
34 Mack
36 Mack
38 Mack
39 Mack
42 Yellow
47 ACF Parlor bus
49 Ford
55 Yellow 712
56 GMC
57 Twin Coach
58 Twin Coach
59 Twin Coach
61 Twin Coach
64 Mack
65 GMC
66 Twin Coach
67 Twin Coach
69 Twin Coach
70 GMC
71 GMC
100 644 1944 Yellow/GMC TG-3609 GMC
451 cubic in.
101-110 311-320 1945 Yellow/GMC TG-3609 GMC
451 cubic in.
150-170 126-131

256-270

1946 Yellow/GMC TG-3609 GMC
451 cubic in.
171-177 832-838 1947 GMC TDH-3610
"Old Look"
DD 4-71
300-309 1613-1622 1947 GMC TDH-4507
"Old Look"
DD 6-71 Spicer Sold to Baltimore Transit Company in 1958, fleet numbers 1300-1309.
300-329 (2nd) 1337-1352

1353-1356

1958 GMC TDH-5106
"Old Look"
To Niagara Frontier Transit System, fleet numbers 600-629.
310-315 2595-2600 1948 GMC TDH-4507
"Old Look"
DD 6-71 Spicer Sold to Baltimore Transit Company in 1958, fleet numbers 1310-1315.
316-321 1031-1036 1950 GMC TDH-4509
"Old Look"
DD 6-71 Allison VH Sold to Memphis Transit Company, then to Memphis Area Transit Authority, fleet numbers 486-490.
322-331 2053-2062 1952 GMC TDH-4509
"Old Look"
DD 6-71 Allison VH Possibly sold to Alexandria, Barcroft and Washington Transit Company. Note fleet numbers of 101-121 do not match number of buses purchased. Possibly other agency?
340-349 031-034

035-040

1960 GMC TDH-5302
"New Look"
DD 6V71N Allison VH
350-372 080-093

333-334

785-791

1953-1954 GMC TDH-4512
"Old Look"
DD 6-71 Fleet numbers 356, 359, 351, 360, 363 to Waukegan-North Chicago Transit Company, new fleet numbers 71-75.
373-380 795-802 1954-1955 GMC TDH-4512
"Old Look"
DD 6-71
381-382 2278-2279 1957 GMC TDH-4512
"Old Look"
DD 6-71
(20 buses) 1961 GMC TDH-5301
"New Look"
DD 6V71N Allison VH Ordered, but sent to Niagara Frontier Transit System 7400-7459.

Further reading

  • International Railway Company: Competing bus line offering service in the City of Buffalo, and northern Erie and Niagara Counties.
  • "A History of Public Transit in the Buffalo-Niagara Region. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, 1999
  • "Images of America-Buffalo's Historic Streetcars and Buses", D. David Bregger, 2008
  • "Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo R.R. - 1908-1931", William R. Gordon, 1963
  • "The Last Decade of Buffalo Trolleys", Harold J. Ahlstrom, 1973
  • "90 Years of Buffalo Railways", William R. Gordon, 1970

References and citations