B&O Bus Service to New York City

Discussion relating to the B&O up to it's 1972 merger into Chessie System. Visit the B&O Railroad Historical Society for more information. Also discussion of the C&O up to 1972. Visit the C&O Historical Society for more information. Also includes the WM up to 1972. Visit the WM Historical Society for more information.

B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby chnhrr » Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:20 pm

This posting is an offshoot of the posting below.
A few years ago I came across a photograph of a B&O bus in Manhattan which was taken in the early 1930’s. Bus service was available from Jersey City to Manhattan for B&O passengers as an option to the ferryboat service leaving the CNJ Terminal.

Was this bus service included the price of the train ticket? What stops did the buses make once in the city? I’m assuming that the buses used the Holland Tunnel to cross the river and the bus service continued until 1958. I include two photographs from the late 1940's-early 1950's, one at the CNJ Terminal and one at Union Square (courtesy of J. Roborecky – Trainnet)
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Re: Bus Service to New York City

Postby BaltOhio » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:14 am

Briefly:

The service began in 1926, when the PRR finally evicted the B&O from Penn Station, which it had been using since World War I, when the USRA put it there to help relieve the load on the Pennsy. Between then and 1958, when all B&O service to NY ended, B&O used three generations of specially equipped buses, beginning with front-engine Yellow intercity coaches, then (in 1936) air-conditioned Whites with custom-built streamlined bodies, and finally the more conventional Whites shown in your photos.

B&O tickets included the bus trip, no extra charge. It could hardly do so, since the whole idea was to compete with the PRR and overcome the Jersey City handicap. Porters collected baggage before train arrival in JC, tagged it for whatever NY destination was wanted, and loaded it onto the buses. At stops and terminals, the driver or station porters unloaded it. The buses always used the CNJ ferries, and it was always a nice experience to get off the bus while it crossed the Hudson and see the NY skyline and harbor activity.

The bus routes and terminals varied over the years, but at the peak there were five. The principal terminal was in the Chanin Building on E. 42nd St. opposite Grand Central, which had spacious station facilities and an underground loop entrance-exit for the buses. The route itself followed Lafayette St. and Fourth (Park) Ave. to 41st St., with stops at 9th St. (Wanamakers) and the Hotel Vanderbilt.

Other terminals were:

-Columbus Circle, originally following 23rd St. and 8th Ave., later Hudson St. and 8th Ave., with stops at the Hotels New Yorker and Lincoln
-Rockefeller Center, originally following the elevated West Side Highway, later Hudson st. and 8th Ave., with stops at the Hotels Taft and Victoria
-34th St., following 7th Ave. and stopping at the Hotels Governor Clinton, Pennsylvania (never mention Penn Station!), McAlpin and Vanderbilt.
-Brooklyn, originally terminating in a loop near the Boro Hall and serving the Hotel St. George, later terminating at the Eagle Building, with no intermediate stops. Intermediate stops were limited, mostly serving major hotels en route.

All the routes but Columbus Circle were funneled through the CNJ's Liberty St. ferry terminal. In the early days, Columbus Circle used the CNJ's 23rd St. ferry until this was discontinued, then it, too, went through Liberty St.
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:41 pm

Rail Classics did an article about this service in an old issue from 1987. Somewhere in my collection I actually have a B&O bus ticket, and it's killing me that I can't find it!!
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby NellieBly » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:21 pm

I have some memories of riding the B&O bus from a 1957 New York to Washington trip on the Royal Blue. We lived in Westchester County on the NYC Harlem Division, so my mother took my sister and me to Grand Central on an NYC commuter train. We then crossed the street to the Chanin Building, and I remember the nice waiting room B&O provided. I also remember going downstairs to get on the bus, which then drove to the Liberty Street ferry (I don't recall the route we followed). My memory is that we got off the bus and stood on the front of the ferry, which docked at the northmost ferry dock at the CNJ Jersey City terminal. The B&O trains used the track on the extreme north side of the station. I recall people waving from the vestibules as the bus drove alongside the train.

The only other memory I have of that trip is of the Pullman porter buffing my shoes as we approached Washington (my mother always traveled first class).
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:30 pm

I just got around to finding this thread, and it reminds me of an obscure note I found in a B&O public timetable from the late '30s. The buses of course had space reserved for them aboard whichever ferry departure was scheduled to connect with a particular train, and the timetable note gave a phone number you could call to reserve a space for a private automobile to be driven aboard the same ferry and out on the platform along with the buses, right to the vestibule of your car. The automobile would presumably be driven out to the end of the platform to be spun on the turntable (what a photo to get!), just like the buses. I wonder how often that provision was used.
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby Leo_Ames » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:11 am

Sorry to bump such a old thread, but I was watching a old movie from 1954 titled ' It Should Happen to You' on Turner Classic Movies last night (The first big role for Jack Lemmon, who soon later became a star).

Anyways, it was shot on location in NYC and you get a good view of a B&O bus depot at a big traffic circle/city square in one scene (Columbus Circle?). Stumbled across this thread in a search engine when I wanted to see if the bus company was related to the railway, so I figured I'd mention that if anyone wanted to see what one of their facilities looked like.
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby CarterB » Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:20 am

Anyone have pics or links that show the bus turntable at Communipaw terminal?
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby R,N, Nelson » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:49 pm

The last bunch of White buses usually didn't use the turntable but simply turned around by jogging. They'd turn on a right angle and be crossways in the roadway between the platform and the turntable, then back up and reverse turn and then turn again the opposite way and head back to the passenger platform. Only one bus did it at a time but that was the way it was on the turntable anyway.

Apparently, they had a shorter turning radius that the former class.

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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:30 am

Otto Vondrak wrote:Rail Classics did an article about this service in an old issue from 1987. Somewhere in my collection I actually have a B&O bus ticket, and it's killing me that I can't find it!!


Here is material from a Classic Trains blog relating to the Chanin Building station, including photos of turntables used to turn the busses. Surprised that Kalmbach has allowed this copyrighted material to appear on the web:

http://cs.trains.com/ctr/f/3/t/230410.aspx
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Re: Bus Service to New York City

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:47 am

BaltOhio wrote:The service began in 1926, when the PRR finally evicted the B&O from Penn Station, which it had been using since World War I, when the USRA put it there to help relieve the load on the Pennsy.


Possibly addressed at another topic, but where was the CNJ-PRR physical interchange made?

The Hunter interchange through the LV was a 1950's creation named the Aldene Plan; no physical interchange at Elizabeth to my knowledge. If interchanged at South Philly (still active as an Amtrak excursion used it during '14), then the "leafy" NJ stops, Westfield, Plainfield, and others and their business would have been missed.

Thoughts, Mr. BaltOhio?
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby CarterB » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:26 pm

"The B&O managed to extend its agreement to use Pennsylvania Station well into the 1920’s, long after the U.S.R.A. was dissolved. To reach Penn Station, B&O passenger trains were routed over the Lehigh Valley from Manville NJ on the Reading to Manhattan Transfer. Reading locomotives were used on B&O passenger trains between Philadelphia and Manhattan Transfer. From there, PRR electric locomotives brought the trains into Penn Station."
source: http://jcrhs.org/B&O.html
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby philipmartin » Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:27 pm

This Blue Comet photo from SteamLocomotive.com shows parlor coaches in the background, possibly B&Os.
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Re: B&O Bus Service to New York City

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:38 pm

They would have had to be--looks as though there was space to pull off the turntable at the far end.
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