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 - Lake Front 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  Lake Front Lines.

Lake Front Lines

Near the turn of the century, Cleveland was linked with the northeastern Ohio cities of Painesville and Ashtabula by interurban cars of the Cleveland, Painesville & Eastern. Steam trains of two railroads already served the area, and highway competition in the form of the Cleveland-Ashtabula-Conneaut Bus Co. drove the electric cars from the scene in 1926. Greyhound eventually acquired C-A-C, as the company was known, and merged its service with the through bus operations on the Buffalo-Cleveland route. Greyhound buses ran via U.S. Route 20 and into Cleveland via Lake Shore Blvd. so as to provide service to lakeside communities such as Mentor and Willoughby.

John N. Tarr, a one-time Greyhound commission agent who had purchased the Pittsburgh-Washington (PA) suburban line from Greyhound in 1962 and operated it as Suburban Lines, resigned as head of that company in 1966, move to Painesville, and acquired the Cleveland-Painesville-Ashtabula service, taking over on April 10, 1966. Ex-Greyhound PD-4103's numbered 101-118 and TDM-5108's 201-204 inaugurated service on the new Lake Front Lines, with Greyhound retaining the right to serve Painesville and Ashtabula on a few daily through trips.

Ten Greyhound PD-4104's, 310-320 except 313, replaced some 4103's in 1968, and then on July 16, 1969, Max Cowan of Western New York Motor Lines bought the company, retaining Jack Tarr as its general manager. Additional buses were brought in from the Western New York operation, the Trailways name was painted on the existing vehicles, and the Cleveland terminus was shifted from the Greyhound terminal to the Trailways depot across the street. Currently there are 21 round trips on weekdays between Cleveland and Painsville, with four continuing to Ashtabula.


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Page updated on August 13, 2004