Martin Lines

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Martin Lines was a privately-owned agency based in Royal Oak, Michigan which provided service to the Detroit-area suburbs of Highland Park, Royal Oak and Troy, as well as interstate ICC charter operations into five states and the District of Columbia, mainly to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio; as well as charters into Ontario.


[1] Around 1922, brothers Ira and Robert Martin began operating a bus route in Royal Oak, operating under Martin & Sons. The route ran from the Highland Park Ford Plant via Woodward Avenue and Main Street to 14 Mile Road in Clawson. In 1927, however, it was sold to the Star Motor Coach Line division of the Detroit United Railway.

Shortly afterward, on March 1, 1927, the Martin brothers purchased a John R. Street bus route from the Detroit Motorbus Company. This route ran from the Highland Park Ford Plant via Woodward, 6 Mile, John R., 11 Mile, Main Street and Rochester Road to Rochester. In 1929, a second Highland Park-to-Rochester route was launched via Lincoln, Campbell, Hilton, 8 Mile and Woodward. Both routes survived through the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority acquisition.

In February 1929, a third route was launched along Coolidge and Schaefer Highways from 14 Mile Road to the Ford Rouge Plant in Dearborn. This route operated with various branches to Rochester and the small settlement of Big Beaver (now part of the city of Troy) as the Big Beaver Bus Company until 1935, the same year the main company became Martin Lines.

Also in 1935, the two surviving routes were truncated to Center and 4th Streets (south of 11 Mile) in Royal Oak and the Hilton route was modified to run via Woodward, 8 Mile, Hilton, Campbell, Lincoln, Troy and 4th Street, with some Hilton trips continuing north via Main Street and Rochester to Big Beaver Road near Big Beaver in what was then Troy Township.

A new garage at Main Street and Maple Road was opened in 1947, despite this, only one additional route was launched along 10 Mile Road from John R. to Van Dyke, but that route was short-lived. Following the 1968 opening of Oakland Mall at John R. and 14 Mile, some John R. trips began serving the mall, with the remaining trips continuing to terminate in Royal Oak.

The last livery used was a turquoise base with a silver stripe and mainly red below the stripe, with turquoise double-wave designs. These double-wave designs may have inspired those used in the current Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation livery template, adopted over 35 years later.

Martin Lines was the last of the suburban Detroit systems to be acquired by the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority. The interstate charter license made the deal more attractive, which allowed SEMTA to continue operating charter trips to Cedar Point and other out-of-state destinations. Effective March 20, 1975, SEMTA took over the remaining Martin Lines operations. Though all 19 of Martin Line's buses were included, the GMC Old Looks were never placed in service. While the Hilton route was discontinued on December 11, 1995, the John R. service is still provided today by SMART route 495 John R.



Opened in 1947, closed by SEMTA in 1975. Exact address unknown.


Bus Roster

Fleet number(s) Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Engine Transmission Notes
30 2/1957 GMC TDH-4512
31 5/1956 GMC TDH-4512
32 7/1955 GMC TDH-4512
33-35 4/1954 GMC TDH-4512
43 7/1967 GMC TDH-4519
45 2/1958 GMC TDH-4512
46 6/1960 GMC TDH-4517
47 12/1960 GMC TDH-4517
48 2/1962 GMC TDH-4517
49 5/1963 GMC TDH-4519
50 1953 GMC TDH-4512 Ex-demo; bought in April 1953.
52 5/1966 GMC TDH-4519
53 7/1967 GMC TDH-4519
54 2/1965 GMC TDH-4519
55-56 6/1967 GMC SDH-4502