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Tamiami Part 1
The story of Tamiami Trailways has its starting point not with buses, nor with potential passengers, but in land development and centers around one man, Barron G. Collier. Later, as the bus line would take form, it became not the story of one company, but of three, until the mid-70's when it was eventually sold.
Barron G. Collier was born in 1873 in Memphis, Tennessee. At the turn of the century, when he was 27, he moved to New York City and within a few years had organized seven companies to sell car card advertising for subways, elevated trains and streetcars. While Collier did not invent the concept of placing advertising along the roof inside of transit vehicles, he honed the business to a fine edge, and by 1915, he had become a very wealthy man. In that year he built a winter estate on Useppa Island, just off the Gulf Coast of Florida, about half way between Tampa and Miami. In 1915 the population of the entire state of Florida was only 750,000 and Collier's estate was accessible only by boat.
Collier saw great promise in Florid's future and over the next 25 years he invested $12 million in the purchase and development of land. He acquired so much land in Lee County, that in 1923, at the beginning of the great land boom, when the legislature divided Lee County, the new county was named "Collier County" in his honor. Resorts and residential developments were built in several areas and Collier and his three sons became virtual land barons in southwest Florida... They owned the land development companies, the mercantile trade and eventually the only means of transportation in and out of the area.
There was no railroad service in southwest Florida, owing mainly to the low and swampy land and a virtual absence of population in any numbers. In 1922, Collier began Collier West Coast Motor Lines with a single White bus which was more like an open touring car. Attached is a picture of the bus complete with passengers. As you can see, it employed natural air conditioning, the air on the inside was in the same condition as the air on the outside. The route was 30 miles along a muddy track between Fort Myers and Naples. To say the least, Collier didn't see the road as adequate to attract buyers to invest in his land sales schemes and he and his associates planned a new paved highway down the west coast from Tampa to Miami. The name they came up with for the new road was the Tamiami Trail. When Collier incorporated his transportation enterprises in November 1924, the bus company became Tamiami Trail Tours and his truck line became Tamiami Freightways.
Collier began construction of the highway the following year, but the project was taken over by the state when the land boom collapsed in late
1925. The road was built on coral rock, blasted out and used to form the roadbed with deep drainage ditches on either side. In 1928 the road was completed and Tamiami Trail Tours extended its short line east from Naples to Miami and north from Fort Myers to Tampa, a new main line spanning 300 miles. The Tampa to Miami trip took ten hours and made a lunch stop in Fort Myers. Later in 1928. Tamiami purchased John Hartsells' Gulf Coast Motor Co. With its eleven buses and route from Tampa to Sarasota which gave Tamiami a monopoly on the west coast route, New service was also begun between Tampa and Lakeland via Mulberry and from Fort Myers across the state to West Palm Beach.
Tamiami ceased to be an operating company in 1932 when the Tampa-Miami and Tampa-Lakeland routes were leased to Union Bus Co., from Jacksonville, FL. Union Bus Co. had financial ties to Southeastern Greyhound and conducted their own operations in northern Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The cross state line to West Palm was leased to another operator. The lease was made necessary by the hard times that fell on Collier and all Florida at the end of the land boom. It freed working capital to be used elsewhere and contributed to income. Collier's motor freight business, Tamiami Freightways was retained and continued to be operated directly. The territory served by the truck line was considerably larger than the bus company's.
The lease arrangement with Union Bus only lasted three years and on October 1, 1935, Tamiami resumed operating the bus company. The main reason was that Union Bus had made plans to merge all their operations south of Jacksonville with those of Florida Motor Lines, the state's largest carrier, who had deep ties to Greyhound. Collier realized that Florida Motor Lines concentrated their service on Florida's east coast and that Union Bus would be funneling all their traffic to Florida Motor Lines at Jacksonville, The result would be a loss of service for the west coast of Florida and Collier knew that more service meant more traffic and more customers for his real estate ventures.
Only seven White buses were returned to Tamiami from Union Bus, but new equipment was ordered and a new general office and maintenance facility was built in Tampa at 1010 East Lafayette Street, Among the new buses coming to Tamiami were two White model 7788 buses equipped with twelve cylinder under floor engines. To say that these buses tore up the flat countryside in southwest Florida is an understatement. A photo of one of these buses is attached, resplendent in its green, orange and silver paint scheme.
Tamiami wasted no time reaching out to connecting carriers who could send passenger traffic to Tamiami from the north, In 1836 an application was filed for a route from Tampa north through Tallahassee to the Georgia state line where buses could connect with those of the Georgia-Alabama Coach Lines who ran on to Eufaula and connected with Capital Motor Lines. The initial decision went against Tamiami, the denial reasoning being possible damage to Florida Motor Lines. However, Tamiami appealed through the courts and prevailed in the case and was soon operating north to Tallahassee and the Georgia line.
In March 13, 1937, Barron G. Collier died, however his death did not affect the company as it was already owned by two other corporations controlled by Collier's three sons, who assumed control of all the Florida enterprises.
In 1939, Tamiami received approval to purchase Georgia-Alabama Bus Co. From James Murray who was running one round trip a day with a ten passenger bus. Although the route was later abandoned, it did provide a much needed passenger feed for Tamiami's schedules.
In 1940, Tamiami also took back the lease on the routes from Lakeland to Fort Myers and from Fort Myers to West Palm Beach from Glades Motor Lines and by purchase a route from Clewiston to Miami via Fort Lauderdale from Mary Kettner, also acquiring her three buses.
During the war Tamiami began a local line from MacDill AFB to downtown Tampa and an agreement was reached with Georgia-Florida Coaches to take over the majority of their service in Florida. Georgia-Florida's route came into Florida at Lake City and continued south through Gainesville to Williston where they connected with Tamiami. In the purchase, Tamiami acquired the authority between Williston and Lake City which became the new connection point with Georgia-Florida.
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ADER COACH LINES - GEORGIA STAGES - MODERN COACH CORP.- BAY LINE
S. H. Ader started Ader Coach Lines in the early 1930's using small Flxible buses on Chevrolet chassis as illustrated by the picture of number 23, Headquartered in Albany, his first route covered 200 miles along U.S. Highway 19 between Griffin and Thomasville, Georgia, via Albany and Americus. He quickly added connecting routes from Columbus to Ellaville and from the Columbus through Albany to Tifton.
In November of 1936 Ader incorporated and changed the name of his company to Georgia Stages. That same year he expanded the newly formed Georgia Stages adding routes from Columbus to Tallahassee via U.S. 27, from Albany to Moultrie and a disconnected line from Atlanta to Talbotton.
In 1939, Georgia Stages purchased Coleman Motor Lines whose principle route ran from Dothan, Alabama to Waycross, GA via Bainbridge and Valdosta. Other Coleman routes from Tifton to Waycross, and Tifton to Tallahassee via Moultrie and Thomasville. After the purchase, R. S. Coleman became Georgia Stages' traffic manager. More new routes were authorized in 1939 between Tifton and Fitzgerald and from Griffin to Atlanta, the latter making possible thought service between Atlanta and Tallahassee for the first time, bridging the gap between Tennessee Coach in Atlanta and Tamiami's service at Tallahassee.
The largest purchase that Georgia Stages ever made was St. Andrews Bay Transportation Co. in early 1944. Known as the Bay Line and a member of Trailways like both Georgia Stages and Tamiami, the headquarters for this company were in Dothan, AL. Routes extended from Americus, GA through Dothan to Panama City and from Panama City to Pensacola. Just prior to the purchase by Georgia Stages, The Bay Line had acquired Lee's Coach Line who ran from Tallahassee to Panama City via Blountstown and also by Apalachicola. Giving The Bay Line a direct route along the Gulf Coast from Tallahassee to Pensacola across the panhandle. A picture of one of The Bay Lines' little Flxibles is attached.
In 1946, Georgia Stages President Fred Mills changed the company name to Modern Coach Corp, and from then on the company was known as Modern Trailways. Among the service improvements were Modern's participation in Thru-Bus service from Miami to Chicago with Tamiami, Tennessee Coach and Indianapolis & Southeastern Trailways among others. In 1953, Modern became the first Trailways member to operate GM's new PD-4104 coaches and Modern's bus 560 posed on the Biscayne Causeway in Miami was featured on Tamiami timetables all thought the 50's along with being displayed in frames proudly in Modern Trailways agencies.
Modern Coach Corp. was acquired by Tamiami Trail Tours in 1956, extending Tamiami's system main line to 825 miles stretching from Atlanta to Miami. Additionally, Thru-Bus arrangements in Trailways' Atlantic States Route included Tamiami in service from Miami to New York City via Florida's west coast and Lake City, with Georgia-Florida Trailways carrying the several schedules per day on north through Georgia. With the Modern purchase came 10 late model Aerocoaches like 506 shown in the picture, six GM PD-4103's and twelve GM PD-4104's. All the acquired equipment was air conditioned with only the ten Aerocoaches being gas powered. These joined the rather sizeable fleet of Aerocoaches Tamiami had been operating since the early 1940's.
Additionally in 1956, Trailways member Service Coach Line found itself in financial distress and Tamiami, along with Carolina and Virginia Trailways stepped in to rescue the carrier and preserve Trailways' service between Jacksonville and Sylvania, GA on the New York City route and Jacksonville and Augusta on the route via Charlotte.
The Trailways carriers still came in second best to Greyhound on New York City to Miami traffic due to the circuitous routing via Lake City, Tampa and the Florida west coast. In 1958 Tamiami applied for two new routes, one from Gainesville to Jacksonville via Melrose and the other from Jacksonville to Canal Point via Orlando, which would tie in with Tamiami's existing authority to West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood and Miami.
Bitter opposition to the applications was mounted by Greyhound who immediately reinstated dormant service over the proposed Tamiami route. For its part, Tamiami presented over 400 witnesses in support of its application. On September 10, 1959, a decision was handed down in favor of Tamiami. The Florida Commission was particularly annoyed with Greyhound's protest reasoning saying, "A carrier who has had ample opportunity to serve the public through the years, cannot wait until the filing of an application for a competitive service to increase or improve its own service to the point of adequacy." After the ICC gave its approval and the appeals process was exhausted for Greyhound, on Dec. 12, 1961, the first Tamiami schedules began operating the new route as part of Trailways' Maine to Miami Thru-Buses on the revised Atlantic States route. Saving the Service Coach link into Jacksonville had been a very smart more.
Ten years after the last application, Florida opened a new road from Naples to Ft, Lauderdale called Alligator Alley. Greyhound and Tamiami both filed to operate over the new road with Greyhound applying for an additional route from Naples to St., Petersburg.
Tamiami promptly filed for authority from Lakeland to Bunnell via Orlando and Daytona Beach. The Railroad Commission approved both company's applications and both appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. The Court handed down its verdict and essentially said competition is good and let the awards stand.
To its credit, Collier Corp. Continued to insure that Tamiami always operated the latest equipment and built new, modern terminals all throughout Florida and Georgia. In the mid-70's, Collier Corp. Finally sold Barron G. Collier's bus line, begun in 1922 on a dirt road with a White Touring car between Naples and Ft, Myers. The purchaser was Continental Trailways who had long been interested in acquiring the company.
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ROUNDING OUT GEORGIA
Service Coach Lines
SERVICE COACH TRAILWAYS - The conception most people have of Service Coach is as a vital part of the Atlantic States Route, New York City to Florida down through the Atlantic coast states. The bus line had vastly different origins though.
Started in the 1930's by George Morris, Service Coach was based in Dublin, Georgia, and was basically an east-west bus line which by necessity, connected with Greyhound. His bread and butter route was from Macon to Savannah via Dublin, Glennville, Ludowici and Hinesville. Greyhound fed him traffic at Macon, not for Savannah, as they had their own service from Macon to Dublin and Savannah over another route, but to his intermediate points, the best of which, especially during the war years, was Hinesville, with Camp (Fort) Stewart. In the midst of the war, six round trips a day plied the route, with and additional three short turns from Savannah to Hinesville and four connecting schedules at Ludowici for Jesup and Brunswick. It was at Brunswick that any southbound connecting traffic for Jacksonville and points in Florida was handed off to Atlantic Greyhound.
Service Coach originally operated out of Augusta to Dublin and McRae but that authority was sold in the early 40's to a J. Harley Garner of Douglas, Georgia who was piecing together a bus line that would become Georgia-Florida Coaches. Service Coach returned to Augusta in 1947 with a new route which went to Swainsboro. Other expansion took their operations out of Georgia for the first time; to Orangeburg, SC from Sylvania, Georgia and to Murphy, NC, from Athens through the North Georgia Mountains. The service into the mountains wasn't successful and was tried by a number of different carriers after Service Coach gave it up. The route to Orangeburg was an attempt to connect with Queen City Trailways and after it failed to bear substantial results, was sold to that company, and not operated again until the mid-50's.
Service Coach's fortunes were changing though along with the pattern of bus use in the south. After the war, as rationing stopped and cars became available again, their white ridership began to buy their own wheels. At the same time, blacks weren't so much interested in taking the bus over to Macon or Dublin but in packing up and heading north where there were jobs and where there was no segregation. Adding the new route into Augusta was the first step Morris made to serve that traffic. As the traffic dried up locally in Georgia, more and more of the local service was taken off and Morris began to desperately search for new revenue sources. In the early 50's, he finally was able to extend from Folkston, Georgia down US 1 to Jacksonville, Florida. With that expansion, he joined Trailways and became part of their Atlantic States route to New York City. Although these changes helped, Morris still had a bus line that ended dead in Jacksonville, only to connect with Florida Greyhound Lines. Of course, that was a one-way street, he gave them traffic but it never came back. His chief revenue source in Jacksonville came from using the Jacksonville Coach Co. Terminal at 500 W. Adams, which is where all that company's buses to NAS Jacksonville and Mayport Naval station operated from.
By the mid 1950's, Service Coach was in real financial distress, and in 1956, to keep it from failing with the resulting loss of the important link into Jacksonville which was invaluable for Tamiami's planned route expansion from the south, three members of the association. Tamiami, Carolina and Virginia Trailways, got together and purchased the route authority. At that time the route from Reidsville to Macon was sold to another member, Atlantic Stages, the Dublin to Albany route became inactive, and what remained in operation with the new owners was Augusta-Jacksonville with three round trips per day, Sylvania-Jacksonville with one round trip per day and Waycross-Savannah and Waycross-Brunswick.
The company was saved, but remained marginal until Tamiami was finally able to expand into Jacksonville from Miami and also the Florida west coast with the first service starting in late 1961.
While Service Coach's expansion into Augusta and joining Trailways helped, there remained a ver real problem for them. Queen City Trailways controlled the Augusta Terminal and, at that point, also owned Georgia-Florida Trailways. Even after Tamiami's entrance into Jacksonville, traffic going south through the Augusta gateway was routinely routed around Service Coach and over Georgia-Florida, an increasingly slower route given new highway construction, to force passengers and revenue over that company. It would take its toll. This is the main reason Queen City did not participate in the rescue of Service Coach... Every passenger Service Coach carried to Florida was a potential loss of revenue to Georgia-Florida and Queen City was well aware of Tamiami's expansion plans out of Jacksonville.
GEORGIA-FLORIDA TRAILWAYS - Georgia-Florida Coaches was formed in the early 40's by J. Harley Garner and headquartered in Douglas, Georgia. It was formed by purchasing a route from Service Coach Line from Augusta to McRae,
Georgia, and a second route from McRae, Georgia to Lake City, Florida owned by Atlantic Stages of Savannah. By 1943 Garner's company was already a member of Trailways and had expanded south of Lake City through Gainesville to Williston, Florida, where they connected with Tamiami Trailways for Tampa and Miami. The Lake City Williston route would later be sold to Tamiami.
By 1948, the company had been sold to Charlotte's Queen City Trailways, operating headquarters were moved to Augusta and another route, from Douglas through Valdosta and Madison to Perry, Florida was being operated. Other than adding the traffic point of Valdosta with its nearby air base, the route was, in reality, a long trip through no where to end up in a town of less than 2,500 people. It didn't last too long.
After Tamiami acquired Modern Trailways in 1956, the former Modern route from Tallahassee to Fitzgerald, Georgia was extended 49 miles to McRae, meeting Georgia-Florida and a thru bus pool was begun from Augusta to Pensacola via Tallahassee. In the mid-1960's, Tamiami's drivers struck and when the strike was settled, Tamiami who had long chafed at the diversion of traffic over Georgia-Florida, seized the opportunity and agreed to reinstate only one Florida-New York City trip over the Lake City and Georgia Florida routing. Prior to the strike, two Florida-New York City trips had gone via Lake City. In addition, there had been two trips a day coming into McRae from Tallahassee and that service was cut back to one with the traffic from Tallahassee to New York City increasingly routed through Atlanta. Today, there is no bus service over any portion of what was once Georgia-Florida.
ATLANTIC TRAILWAYS - Started in the 1930's by J. A. Booker of Savannah,
Atlantic Stages routes by the early 40's stretched west from Savannah across Georgia through Reidsville, Vidalia, McRae and Cordele to Americus and then on to Eufaula, Alabama, where it connected with Capital Motor Lines for Montgomery. A north south route from McRae to Lake City, Florida was disposed of in the early 40's to J. Harley Garner who combined it with other authority to form Georgia-Florida Coaches.
Atlantic's route from Americus to Eufaula was mainly to connect with Capital Trailways and in 1946, when Capital purchased Florida-Alabama Coach Co., gaining access to Columbus, Georgia from Montgomery and Union Springs,
Atlantic made application to operate from Americus to Columbus and followed Capital's switch in emphasis to the Columbus gateway which had the advantage of access to military traffic from nearby Ft. Benning. Service to Eufaula was reduced to one shuttle a day and then finally abandoned.
Atlantic joined Trailways in 1945 and until Service Coach came into the association, was the only Trailways member serving Savannah. In the mid 50's, Booker sold Atlantic to Frank Wilkinson who owned Southern Stages in Macon, another Trailways member, Booker kept his local service from Savannah to Savannah Beach and Tybee Island along with a charter operation in Savannah, renaming it National Bus Service. In the late 70's, Booker retired and sold National to George Cullens of Macon and it became part of his C&H Bus Lines.
When Service Coach failed financially in 1956, Atlantic purchased their authority from Reidsville to Dublin and Macon and shortly thereafter, Wilkinson applied to extend the route from Macon 40 miles to Thomaston over a rural secondary road which at that time had little more than sprayed tar to seal the dirt. It did allow a connection with Tamiami Trailways at Thomaston and through service to Atlanta was initiated. Two Atlanta trips were operated daily, one operating as a thru bus to Savannah and the second one to Jacksonville, Florida, wherein Tamiami brought the bus from Atlanta to Thomaston, then Atlantic brought it through Macon and Dublin to Reidsville, and the rescued Service Coach took it from Reidsville through Jesup to Jacksonville. At this point, Tamiami was not operating from Valdosta to Jacksonville, but only from Valdosta to Fargo as part of GA 94 was still unpaved, so this was the only Trailways route from Atlanta to Jacksonville.
In 1970, Wilkinson sold both Atlantic and his other company, Southern Trailways to Transcontinental Bus System of Dallas, Texas, and thereafter the two companies were combined and became known as Continental Atlantic Lines, Inc. In 1974, Transcontinental purchased Tamiami Trailways and in 1977, Continental Atlantic Lines was folded into Tamiami.
SOUTHERN TRAILWAYS OF GEORGIA - Frank Wilkinson's Southern Stages based in
Macon dated from the early 1930's Southern's route structure remained almost unchanged over most of its history. The main line was always from Augusta, Georgia to Columbus via Macon. There was also a branch line from
Macon to Americus and a local line from Macon to Athens. For many years an additional route out of Macon went to Hub Junction and Gainesville, although by the mid 50's, the Gainesville route had been abandoned.
Wilkinson also owned Southern Transit which ran from Macon to Warner Robbins Air Base. An independent operator until 1949, he brought Southern into the Trailways System in that year and participated in the Dixieland Route, the new Thru Bus service linking Raleigh, North Carolina and Dallas, Texas via Fayetteville, Augusta, Columbus, Montgomery, Jackson and Shreveport. It involved operation over the routes of Carolina Trailways, Queen City, Southern, Capital and Continental Trailways' Southern and Dixie divisions. At the time it was the longest thru bus service in the country and pooling equipment was a real innovation allowing the passenger to travel without bus changes. Wilkinson purchased five new ACF Brill IC-41 buses in 1949 to operate his part of the pool, adding a sixth IC-41 in 1950. The route which connected eight military installations was an instant success and had the effect of force feeding Wilkinson's bus line with traffic at Columbus and Augusta.
One of the more interesting pools run by Southern was with Tamiami Trailways, a thru bus from Atlanta to Columbus, where Tamiami operated the bus from Atlanta to Talbotton and Southern Stages then took the bus the final 36 miles to Columbus. Two round trips per day were run and a Southern driver pulled their portion of the trip!
In the mid 50's, Wilkinson purchased J. A. Booker's Atlantic Trailways and while the two companies remained separate corporate-wise, they were all operated out of Macon. With the addition to Atlantic of Service Coach's Reidsville-Macon route in 1956, an additional route from Savannah to Columbus via Macon made sense with the effect of draining traffic away from Atlantic's traditional route to Columbus via McRae. In later years that route was cut back to one trip a day from Columbus to Vidalia where a connection was made with the bus coming in from Macon to Savannah, and finally the McRae routing was discontinued completely.
In 1970 Wilkinson sold to Transcontinental Bus System of Dallas and his two companies became known as Continental Atlantic Lines, taking the 41000 numbering series. Also included in the sale was Southern Transit of Macon and the local service to Robbins AFB. Previously, Southern Trailways buses carried the "X" prefix and Atlantic the "A" prefix in their bus numbers. In 1977 Continental rolled Continental Atlantic's operating authority into their Tamiami subsidiary and management shifted to Tamiami and away from Macon.
Operation of the Columbus-Macon-Augusta line continued until Greyhound's drivers struck in the late 80's and as they resumed operations with non-union drivers the Macon route was never restarted with through traffic being diverted through Atlanta. Capital Trailways in Montgomery applied for the old Southern Stages route and re-instituted service over the route, however pickings were slim as Greyhound routed traffic around Capital on the Columbus end and Southeastern Stages routed around them at Augusta. Capital finally had to bow to the Golden Rule of Business... "He who has the gold, makes the rules!"
GEORGIA TRAILWAYS - In March 1982 Trailways, Inc. transferred their authority from Macon to Savannah to George Cullens and his son George, Jr., owners of C&H Bus Lines. Cullens' original operations began with commuter service operated from Dublin and other local points to Warner Robbins AFB and then extended to include charter service in the Macon - Dublin area. In the 70's, when J. A. Booker sold his National Bus Service operation in Savannah, Cullens bought it, including the Savannah-Savannah Beach local operation, folding it into his C&H Bus Lines. Later on he took over the Trailways, Inc. operation from Atlanta to Tallahassee via Talbotton, Columbus and Bainbridge, operating it into the early 90's at which time it was abandoned.
In 1982 with the Macon-Savannah route, they set up Georgia Trailways as the operating entity. Initially, the equipment used on it were GM PD-4107's, however today those buses have all been sold and the service is operated with Model 10 Eagles. At the time they took it over, Trailways, Inc. was running three round trips a day. Cullens, talking to Joe Terry the local manager in Macon got the figures and suggestions on changing the schedules, eliminating some poor runs and rearranging what was left to operate two round trips a day, the level it is at today and which is profitable given the fact that C&H Bus Lines carries the fixed overhead and so the line runs is what's called incremental mileage. Cullens' offices and main shop are located at 448 Pine in Macon, which was the home base for Southern Stages 60 years ago.
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