Friday, November 19, 2010

Red Lion Bus Lines: Cigar (si gar’), n. a cylindrical roll of tobacco leaves cured for smoking.

Why would a bus company history begin with the definition of a cigar? In 1939, in the small central Pennsylvania town of Red Lion many area farmers grew tobacco. A bus was used to transport workers to and from the many local cigar-making enterprises. It worked! In an age when few people owned cars, potential customers were quick to realize the benefits of this service, and the Red Lion Bus Company was born.

In the early 1940s, a new service started transporting students to Red Lion Schools. Students paid their own way, purchasing a monthly ticket. In 1946 the school district started paying for student transportation. In the late 1940s, school districts started consolidating and the company’s growth in school bus operations flourished as consolidation continued.

In the 1950s, the company began to offer charter service and motorcoaches were added to the fleet. In 1964, the World’s Fair in New York City provided a major attraction destination for tours. In the 1970s, the energy crisis led to the popularity of motorcoach tours and group charters. People were looking for alternatives to the car for vacations and recreational travel. And Red Lion Bus was there to help. Additionally, it acquired three school bus companies in the 1970s and 1980s. Meeting the demands of growth demanded larger facilities and so a new complex was completed in 1978, the current location of the company today at 110 East Walnut Street, Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Two satellite locations are also used as bases for school bus operations in York County. These are located at Stewartstown and Delroy. The company has contracts with four school districts to provide student transportation services.

In 1982, Red Lion Tours, Inc. was established to specialize in escorted motorcoach tours and tours for groups. Within a few years, this role expanded to also include a full-service travel agency. In 1985, Ridgeway Tours of Lancaster was acquired and today Red Lion Tours is known by the business name of Red Lion Tours & Travel, reflecting its role in providing a broad range of tour and travel services, including worldwide travel in addition to motorcoach travel throughout the USA and Canada. Today the team consists of approximately 185 employees, a fleet of 18 motorcoaches, 110 school buses, 16 service trucks, vans, and other company vehicles.
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