Monday, March 23, 2009

As we are headed to NY for my Mother’s funeral on Wednesday and Thursday, I thought I would write about one of our newer acquisitions from the former Jamaica Bus Company. Sunday, January 29, 2006 marked a major turning point in private bus transportation when Jamaica Buses’ operation to the communities the serviced terminated and the route were taken over by the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Jamaica Bus Lines operated 103 buses on four local and express lines that served 10 million riders per year across New York City. Jamaica was the sixth bus line that was transitioned to the MTA operation in 2005-2006. We were offered Jamacia Bus Lines 1972 GM T6H 5308-A and accepted it. Here’s a brief history of the company:

In 1894, the Long Island Electric Railway was incorporated for the purpose of building and operating street railways in Queens County (at that time Queens County included all of present-day Nassau County), and the first route began operating in 1896 from the Kings County Elevated Railroad station at the Brooklyn city line to downtown Jamaica. In the following year service had been extended along present-day Guy R. Brewer Boulevard to Far Rockaway, and along Jamaica Avenue to 212th Street.

In 1899 the Long Island Electric was purchased by the New York & North Shore Railway Company, a subsidiary of the New York & Queens County Railway Company – then the largest street railway operator in Queens. However, the company eventually faltered. In 1902, the original route of the New York & North Shore (Flushing-to-Jamaica along present-day 164th Street) was sold at foreclosure to the New York & Queens County, and the New York & North Shore changed its name back to the Long Island Electric the following year.
The last section of track to be built by the company was a short one-mile extension from 212th Street to the city line on Hempstead Avenue at Belmont Park, this track was placed into service during 1904.

In 1906, August Belmont, president of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and a director of the Long Island Rail Road, announced that he had acquired a controlling interest in the Long Island Electric; half of his interest in the company was transferred to the Interborough Rapid Transit, and the other half to the Long Island Consolidated Electric Companies, a subsidiary of the Long Island Rail Road.

Fire struck the company’s car barn in 1924, and completely destroyed all the company’s facilities. This loss, when combined with continuing annual operating losses and nonpayment to bondholders led to a foreclosure on the company that year. The company was sold at a bankruptcy sale in 1926 to American Communities Corporation, a corporation controlled by the Bank of Manhattan. Later that year the company’s name was changed to Jamaica Central Railways.

In 1931, the City of New York announced a plan to widen Jamaica Avenue, and would require the company to spend thousands of dollars to relay its track in that street. Rather than undertaking this expensive project the company instead planned to motorize its Jamaica Avenue route, and substitute buses for the streetcars. A subsidiary, Jamaica Buses, Inc., was formed that year to operate buses on the motorized routes. The City of New York granted a franchise to Jamaica Buses, Inc. in 1933 in exchange for the surrender of all the parent company’s trolley franchises. With the new bus franchise in hand, the company motorized all the routes in the latter part of the year.

Jamaica Buses experienced financial difficulties and the Mayor offered the Jamaica Buses franchise to Green Bus Lines if the company could act quickly to rescue the company from financial failure. The stockholders of Green Bus Lines agreed to purchase the company. By the 1970s, deferred maintenance had taken its toll on the City’s rapid transit system, and additional demands were being made for express bus services between Queens and Manhattan. In response to these requests, Jamaica Buses initiated service an express route from southern Queens County.


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