Richmond Greyhound Lines
Dr. D.B. “Doc” Rushing
© Copyright, 2009, 202016, Duncan Bryant Rushing
The Richmond Greyhound Lines (RGL), an intercity highway-coach carrier, was a Greyhound regional operating company, one of the smaller Greyhound concerns, based in Richmond, Virginia, USA. It ran from 1929 until -60, when it became merged into the (second) Eastern Greyhound Lines.
The Richmond Greyhound Lines (GL) descended mainly from four different predecessor firms – the RF&P Transportation Company, the Richmond-Washington Motor Coaches, the Richmond-Norfolk Motor Coaches, and the Peninsula Transit Corporation. [The RF&P Transportation Company was the short-lived motor-coach subsidiary of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P) Railroad.]
In August 1929 the Motor Transit Corporation (MTC), the original parent Greyhound firm – through its acquisition company, known as the Automotive Investments, Inc., based in Duluth, Minnesota – bought the Richmond-Washington Motor Coaches, which ran along US highway 1 (US-1) between the two named cities, holding and using intrastate rights (obtained from the state or Commonwealth of Virginia), thus hauling not only interstate but also intrastate passengers as well.
Later in that same month the MTC began to coordinate the schedules of its new property with the trips of the RF&P Transportation Company, which ran on the same route, but which latter firm hauled only interstate passengers due to its lack of intrastate rights.
In the next month, September 1929, the MTC formed the Richmond-Greyhound Lines (RGL), temporarily using a hyphen in the name, then bought and took over the RF&P Transportation Company, which had run only six months.
During the creation of the RGL, the RF&P Railroad acquired a 49-percent interest in the RGL, and the MTC retained the other 51 percent.
Later that year, 1929, the MTC became renamed as The Greyhound Corporation (with an uppercase T because the word the was an integral part of the official name of the corporate entity).
Further, in 1930 Greyhound merged into the RGL the Richmond-Washington Motor Coaches, which it had bought in August 1929, then in the following year, 1931, Greyhound bought also the Richmond-Norfolk Motor Coaches and merged it too into the RGL. The Richmond-Norfolk last firm had run between the two named cities via Petersburg, Suffolk, and Portsmouth, west of the west shore of the James River and south of the south shore of Hampton Roads. [Hampton Roads is a large natural harbor just inland from Cape Henry, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.]
The Peninsula Transit Corporation (PTC) had begun in 1919 in Virginia, on the peninsula between the rivers James and York. The first purpose of the PTC was to haul passengers (mostly soldiers, mostly recently discharged members of the US Army after the end of World War I) – between Camp Eustis (later renamed as Fort Eustis) and both Newport News, to the south, and Lee Hall (the nearest place with a railway station), to the north.
The PTC extended northward to Williamsburg in 1923, to Toano and Gloucester in 1924, and to Richmond in 1925, then provided through-service between Richmond and Norfolk, using a ferry across Hampton Roads between Newport News and Norfolk, on a route shorter than the inland one via Petersburg, Suffolk, and Portsmouth.
During 1931 and -32 the PTC extended its Gloucester branch northward on US-17, on the peninsula between the rivers York and Rappahannock, to Tappahannock, thence eastwardly across the Rappahannock River to Warsaw, thence both southwardly and northwardly – to the south to Reedville, Lancaster, and Irvington, near the Chesapeake Bay, and to the north to Colonial Beach, where passengers could ride a ferry across the Potomac River and then catch other buses to Washington, DC, to Baltimore, Maryland, and to other points to the north.
Predictably, through the years those ferry rides became eliminated by the construction of bridges and a tunnel.
In 1932 the PTC bought the bus business (but not the trucking business) of the Tidewater Lines, which had begun in 1916. Thus the PTC acquired routes from Morgantown, Maryland, on the opposite side of the Potomac River across from Colonial Beach, northwardly through Waldorf to Washington and to Baltimore and southwardly from Waldorf to Leonardtown and Lexington Park, on the peninsula between the rivers Potomac and Patuxent.
Between 1932 and -36 the PTC affiliated with The Short Line System, thus interchanging passengers with other Short Line members and subsidiaries to the west, north, and northeast. [The Short Line System became unraveled during the Great Depression (and as a result of it), and most of the other firms in that system fell into irreversible financial troubles.]
The PTC in 1935 began local commuter service between Washington, DC, and Annapolis, Maryland, along two parallel routes, when an electric interurban railway failed in business and quit running.
In 1936, during a reorganization and reincorporation of the Richmond Greyhound Lines, it became slightly renamed by the removal of the hyphen from its former name.
During that same year, 1936, the RGL made a contract to buy the PTC, then in 1937 gained control of it and merged it into itself.
In the next year, 1938, Greyhound transferred the two Washington-Annapolis local commuter routes from the Richmond GL to the Capitol GL, another regional company, because those routes were so far removed from Richmond, the center of activity of the RGL. [The Capitol GL ran mainly on a single route, between Washington, DC, and Saint Louis, Missouri, along US-50, via Winchester in Virginia, Morgantown in West Virginia, Cincinnati in Ohio, Vincennes in Indiana, and Salem in Illinois.]
The Richmond GL ran a number of coaches merely between Washington and Richmond, between Richmond and Norfolk, between Washington and Norfolk via Richmond, and between Baltimore and Norfolk via Waldorf.
Mostly, however, the RGL took part in a large number of major interlined north-south through-routes (using pooled equipment in cooperation with other Greyhound companies) – that is, the use of through-coaches on through-routes running through the territories of two or more Greyhound regional companies – between various pairs of cities (first between New York City and Jacksonville), including – in the north, Chicago, Detroit, Montréal, Boston, Providence, New York City, Scranton, Philadelphia, and Washington – and, in the south, Norfolk, Atlanta, Mobile, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, and Saint Petersburg.
The Richmond GL met the Southern GL (formerly the Atlantic GL) to the south, and the new (second) Eastern GL (formerly the Capitol GL and the Pennsylvania GL) to the north and west.
A long-time vice president of the RGL was Swan Sundstrom, who was also a long-time president of the Pennsylvania GL, based in Cleveland, Ohio, and who was one of the original drivers who had worked for Carl Eric Wickman, the principal founder of the Greyhound empire, in the Mesaba Transportation Company, in Hibbing, Minnesota.
Merger into Eastern GL
In 1954 the parent Greyhound firm merged the Capitol GL into the Pennsylvania GL, then in 1955 it redesignated the newly enlarged Pennsylvania GL (along with the New England GL) as the Eastern Division of The Greyhound Corporation, known also as the new (second) Eastern GL, the first of four huge new divisions (along with Central, Southern, and Western).
In 1960 Greyhound bought the 49-percent minority interest of the RF&P Railroad in the Richmond GL, then merged the RGL into the new (second) Eastern GL. [That minority interest was the last one which Greyhound reacquired from any railway firm; after that no longer did any railway own a piece of the Dog.]
The partial ownership of the RGL by the RF&P Railroad is the reason for which the RGL did not become merged into the Eastern Division until 1960.
Thus ended the Richmond GL.
Beyond Richmond GL
Later (about 1969) The Greyhound Corporation reorganized again, into just two humongous divisions, named as the Greyhound Lines East (GLE) and the Greyhound Lines West (GLW); even later (about 1975) it eliminated those two divisions, thereby leaving a single gargantuan undivided nationwide fleet.
In 1987 The Greyhound Corporation, the original umbrella Greyhound firm, which had become widely diversified far beyond transportation, sold its entire highway-coach operating subsidiary (its core bus business, known as the Greyhound Lines, Inc., the GLI) to a new company, named as the GLI Holding Company, based in Dallas, Texas. The buyer was a separate, independent, unrelated firm, which was the property of a group of private investors under the promotion of Fred Currey, a former executive of the Continental Trailways (later renamed as the Trailways, Inc., the TWI, also based in Dallas), which was by far the largest member company in the Trailways association (then named as the National Trailways Bus System, now as the Trailways Transportation System).
Later in 1987 the GLI Holding Company, the new firm based in Dallas, further bought the Trailways, Inc., the TWI, its largest competitor, and merged it into the GLI.
The lenders and the other investors of the GLI Holding Company ousted Fred Currey as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the GLI after the firm went into bankruptcy in 1990.
The GLI has since continued to experience difficulties and lackluster performance under a succession of new owners and new executives while continuing to reduce its level of service. The reductions consist of hauling fewer passengers aboard fewer coaches on fewer trips along fewer routes with fewer stops in fewer communities in fewer states, doing so on fewer days (that is, increasingly operating some trips fewer than seven days per week), and using fewer through-coaches, thus requiring passengers to make more transfers (from one coach to another).
After the sale of the GLI, The Greyhound Corporation, the original parent Greyhound firm, changed its name to the Greyhound-Dial Corporation, then the Dial Corporation, then the Viad Corporation. [The contrived name Viad appears to be a curious respelling of the former name Dial – if one scrambles the letters D, I, and A, then turns the V upside down and regards it as the Greek letter lambda – L – that is, the Greek equivalent of the Roman or Latin letter L.]
The website of the Viad Corporation (http://www.viad.com) in January 2010 makes no mention of its corporate history or its past relationship to Greyhound – that is, its origin as The Greyhound Corporation – as though to ignore or dismiss Greyhound or to escape from it. [The GES Exhibition Services, Inc., one of the subsidiaries of the Viad Corporation, began in the 1960s as the Greyhound Exhibition Services (GES).]
The Richmond GL made a major, significant, and lasting contribution to the present Greyhound route network.
Please see also the articles on the Atlantic Greyhound Lines, the Capitol Greyhound Lines, the Central Greyhound Lines, the Dixie Greyhound Lines, the Florida Greyhound Lines, the Great Lakes Greyhound Lines, the New England Greyhound Lines, the Northland Greyhound Lines, the Northwest Greyhound Lines, the Overland Greyhound Lines, the Pacific Greyhound Lines, the Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, the Pickwick-Greyhound Lines, the Southeastern Greyhound Lines, the Southwestern Greyhound Lines, the Teche Greyhound Lines, The Greyhound Corporation, and the Tennessee Coach Company.
Jackson, Carlton, Hounds of the Road. Dubuque: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 1984. ISBN 0-87972-207-3.
Meier, Albert, and John Hoschek, Over the Road. Upper Montclair: Motor Bus Society, 1975. No ISBN (due to age of book).
Rushing, Duncan Bryant, Wheels, Water, Words, Wings, and Engines. South Bend: Fidelity Publishers, 2016. Forthcoming.
Schisgall, Oscar, The Greyhound Story. Chicago: J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, 1985. ISBN 0-385-19690-3.
Motor Coach Age (a publication of the Motor Bus Society), various issues, especially these:
Jon’s Trailways History Corner, a web-based Trailways history by Jan Hobijn (known also as Jon Hobein) at http://cw42.tripod.com/Jon.html.
Web-based schedules and historical data at www.greyhound.com.
06 June 2016
09 November 2010