The Ohio Museum of Transportation

Ohio's Transit History

This article was written by one of the Ohio Museum of Transportation members in 1970 and originally appeared in the February 1971 issue of the Motor Bus Society's publication Motor Coach Age. Due to it's size, it has been broken down by each individual carrier. We wish to thank the author for allowing us to post his article on our site.

Cleveland Suburban Buses - Cleveland-Lorain Highway Coach Company

By David B. Decsman

Owing to it's location on a wide, gently sloping plain, to it's industrial and commercial character, and most importantly to the fact that electric interurban railroads and not steam roads carried people to the surrounding towns years ago, Cleveland has bus lines radiating from the city center to outlying suburbs in all directions. The suburban operations are unusual in being completely independent from one another and from any larger companies, though some are basically one-route carriers, but even more unusual is the fact that many are publicly owned. In fact, public ownership came to some of the suburban lines even before Cleveland Transit System (CTS) succeeded from the old Cleveland Railway back in 1942.

In addition to seven suburban operations in business now, four others have been absorbed over the years by CTS. The extent of knowledge about some of these 11 operators is not great, but in this article we attempt to put them all together so that their separate stories will add up to a history of suburban bus service in Cleveland.

This section of the article looks at the Cleveland-Lorain Highway Coach Company.

Cleveland-Lorain Highway Coach Company

Beginning at the lake to the west of Cleveland, the first carrier encountered is the Cleveland-Lorain Highway Coach Co. Its service dates to 1923, when H.A. Sanborn and H.G. Coleman, formerly operators of jitneys within Lorain, began service to downtown Cleveland via Detroit Avenue. Initially they employed a single Clydesdale bus on this service, later relying on Fageol Safety Coaches.

The original bus service made considerable inroads into patronage levels on the Lake Shore Electric interurban line, principally because buses made stops all along the main street of Lorain (Broadway) and all through South Lorain, whereas the interurban's only stop in either town was at Broadway & Lake Avenue, Lorain -- right across from the bus line's terminus. By the mid 1930's, Lake Shore began augmenting its rail service with elderly Whites acquired from Community Traction Co., Toledo, but Cleveland-Lorain countered by installing deluxw Yellow cruisers of types V and Z. By the time Lake Shore abandoned the electric service and put Yellow 742's on the line, on May 15, 1938, its fare was up to $1.00, while Cleveland-Lorain Highway Coach was charging just 75 cents for the Cleveland run.

Since the Greyhound-Lake Shore swap, Greyhound and Cleveland-Lorain have exchanged interline tickets and have used the same terminal in both cities. Cleveland-Lorain expanded its number of pickup points in Lorain during 1969, and began to carry local riders for the first time, on account of the abandonment of service by Lorain City Lines. These changes continue in effect, even though School Bus Service has restored some local service lately. The 17 well-maintained GM's of Cleveland-Lorain offer 21 inbound and 23 outbound trips on weekdays; nine buses are required to hold down the basic service. Extensive charter work utilizes the remaining buses, and all-expense tours are operated in conjunction with Bixler Tours of Hiram, Ohio.

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Page updated on August 13, 2004