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 - Garfield Heights Coach Lines

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 Garfield Heights Coach Lines.

Garfield Heights Coach Lines

Cleveland-Bedford interurban service by Northern Ohio Traction & Light Co. was abandoned on April 1, 1932, and Cleveland Southeastern Bus Co. started in business the same day. Second-hand Twins were the first buses and later in the 1930's, Yellows were acquired new. The present garage location on Harrison Street has been used since shortly after World War II, by which time equipment purchases had shifted back to Twin Coach.

Garfield Heights 2585

GCRTA coach 2585 in Garfield Heights Colors

Service between Cleveland and the growing residential community of Garfield Heights was inaugurated on July 1, 1947, under the name of Garfield Heights Coach Lines, Inc. Within two years, midday headways were 15 minutes, and half-hourly Sunday service began in the fall of 1949. Essentially the same service is offered today (1970). The two companies are operated as one, and all buses are painted alike and may be interchanged as necessary. Only Cleveland Southeastern has ICC rights.

Ten buses (nine Twins and one GM) were destroyed in a garage fire in 1965, at which time nine Twins were acquired from CTS (Cleveland Transit System) and used until better buses could be found. Six 4512's from Intertown Suburban Lines and eight ex-New Orleans 5105's (which had operated for a short time in Columbus) replaced the last Twins early in 1967. There are now just over 50 buses on the active roster, with 34 required for rush-hour line service and eight for school duties.

It is widely believed that Garfield Heights Coach Line at least, and possibly the regular route operation of Cleveland Southeastern as well, will be the next suburban property absorbed by CTS. The recent formation of "Cleveland Southeastern Charter Coach Lines" by the two owners of these companies, and even more recently the assignment of the charter rights to a new corporation known as B.I.C., Inc., lends substance to these reports. Periodically the companies complain in the public press about their financial headaches, and public ownership will not be long in coming.

Update: We received additional information on service in the Garfield Heights area from a visitor that is a decendant of one of the earlier owners. The information above was on the later company on which information was available. Earlier service in the Garfield Heights area was virtually undocumented anywhere with the exception of two photos in the Motor Bus Society archives. With that out of the way, here is the additional information on the earlier bus service in Garfield Heights.

Bus service in the Garfield Heights area started in the early 1920's. The line was operated by Mr. Gus Somoski and ran on Turney Road. It's route consisted of a run from then Village of Garfield Heights to the CTS streetcar line at Harvard & Broadway in Cleveland. Information on the early days is sketchy at best and it is unclear as to what equipment this early service had (they did have some Ford transits documented by MBS photo). The official name of this operation was The Turney Road Transit Company (TRTC) and was founded by several local individuals including Mr. Henry Bohning.

By the very early 1940's, the company was co-owned by Mr. Bohning, Mr. John Petro, and Mr. William Kopper. In 1943, Mr. Kopper died and his share was inherited by his son, Mr. Wilbert T. Kopper. The ownership was maintained until 1947 when the operations were sold to the Bedford Bus Company (Cleveland Southeastern Bus Co). This sale resulted from the deterioration of the bus fleet after WWII. The current owners were unable to raise sufficient capital to purchase new buses to replace the aging fleet.

Basic operations of the TRTC were a half hour headway on the following route, the Garfield Heights/Maple Heights border on Turney Road to Whitehead Court (south of the Broadway and Harvard Ave. intersection in Cleveland). This operation was maintained for the entire existance of the TRTC. The original TRTC garage was located at NW corner of Turney and Granger Roads. In the early 1940's that garage was abandoned for a larger facility at the SE corner of Turner and McCraken Roads (this garage was later to become part of the Garfield Heights #1 fire station).

Also noted in the additional information was that one of the co-owners, Mr. John Petro, co-founded the Brecksville Road Bus Line. This operation was started in 1946 and was co-owned with Mr. Charles Reinecke.

Once the sale of the TRTC was completed to Cleveland Southeastern, which had already been in operation since 1932, the newly formed Garfield Heights Coach Lines commenced operation on July 1, 1947. Five new Twin 44-D coaches were purchased for initial service and additional Twins followed shortly after. It is not known what the disposition of the TRTC old coaches. Some may have run for the new company as the two photographs in the MBS archives show two buses with both the TRTC and GHCL names on them and a few Fords may have been sold to Brecksville Road Transit.

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Page updated on August 13, 2004