|© 2007 (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 09-15-07)
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D.S.R. Route #49
When the city-owned DSR system began operating its bus route along John R. Street on the city's north-end in 1925,
the privately-owned Detroit Motorbus Company (DMB) had already begun operating its own service along John R.,
from Highland Park to downtown Detroit, a few years prior. Motor bus service along mid-town John R. actually began in
mid-1921 as a branch extension of the DMB's first bus route along East Jefferson. Extended trips off the Jefferson line
would travel via Woodward, Witherell and Adams to John R. Street, then turning along Piquette and Amsterdam streets
to the Burroughs Adding Machine Co. plant at Cass and Amsterdam.
Not long afterward, the John R. route, along with its fleet of Fifth Avenue Coach Co. built double-decker buses, was
separated from the Rt 1-Jefferson, becoming the company's Rt 2-John R. But by late 1922, the Rt 2-John R. line
had been discontinued and replaced by two John R. routes -- Rts #8 and #9 -- both eventually beginning at the foot
of Woodward at the Detroit-Windsor Ferry docks. The Rt 9-John R. line operated via John R, but turned at Grand
Blvd., passing the new General Motors Bldg. along its route to Dexter and Joy. This route would eventually become
known as the DMB's Rt 9-Dexter-John R. line (one of its two Dexter bus routes).
The other John R. route -- Rt #8 -- originally branched off the Jefferson line and terminated at E. Grand Blvd., but in
December, 1923 became a separate line again and was extended up John R. Street to Grand Avenue in Highland Park.
In 1924, the route was extended to Gerald Avenue, two blocks south of the Ford Highland Park Plant, home of the
Model T and the $5-a-day wage. This Rt 8-John R. will be the main focus of the rest of this article.
From 1922 through 1931, Rt 8-John R. continued operating under the
DMB. But when the company's license to operate in Detroit was revoked
by the Common Council, the bus route was taken over by the city run
DSR, effective January 1, 1932. With the DSR already operating a John
R. line along the city's north-end, the take-over now resulted in two DSR
John R. routes. To avoid confusion, the northern John R. route was re-
named "John R. North" while the former Detroit Motorbus route was
renamed "John R. South."
Meanwhile, back in March, 1929, the DSR began operating an Oakland
bus line from John R. and Victor (one block south of the Ford plant), via
John R., Manchester, and then along Oakland to Eight Mile. The line was
later rerouted to the DSR's Highland Park Terminal Loop at Woodward,
near Manchester. The route left the loop and traveled along Manchester,
and then via Oakland and State Fair to Greeley (just west of Dequindre).
However, effective May 2, 1932, the John R. South and Oakland bus
routes were combined by the DSR. This resulted in the formation of the
"John R.-Oakland" bus line.
This new John R.-Oakland line operated from Campus Martius, in front
of Sam's main downtown department store (currently the Compuware
Headquarters' front doors) and traveled the former John R.-South and
Oakland routes to State Fair and Dequindre. Beginning in June of 1937,
trips were added via Nevada and Dequindre to State Fair. On September
15, 1939, the bus line was rerouted northbound along Brush Street and
southbound along John R. after the two streets became one-way streets
to help alleviate the city's heavy traffic problems.
During its reaming years under the DSR, a number of route adjustments
were made. Beginning December 10, 1945, the unusual practice of trips
alternating between Nevada and State Fair streets began. While one trip
would operate via State Fair/Outer Drive and Ryan to Eight Mile, the next
one would travel via Nevada and Dequindre, terminating at Conant, just
south of Eight Mile. This alternating routing pattern would continue along
the route, well into the DDOT years. Beginning on March 13, 1950, night
service and Sunday service only operated north of Manchester, from the
Woodward Loop at the Highland Park Terminal to Eight Mile Road.
Headways for the John R.-Oakland varied over the years. During the
1950's, when mostly 31-passenger Transit and Checker coaches were
used on the line, headways averaged 2 minutes during peak-hours and 5
minutes for the base. By 1968, when only regular 40-foot coaches were
being used, peak headways averaged 10-12 minutes, and 20-25 minutes
the rest of the day.
|The above map shows the route of the DSR's
John R.-Oakland line after service had been
extended via Dequindre to 12 Mile Road in
Madison Heights during the late 1960's.
However, during most of the route's years of
operation the John R.-Oakland line would
terminate at Eight Mile Road, the city limits.
|The smaller-size 31-passenger coaches, like the Checkers and |
these Transit Buses (in photo) using quick headways, were
assigned to the John R.-Oakland line during the 1950's.
However, by the mid-60's regular size 50-passenger coaches
were used on all DSR lines, except on downtown Minibuses.
(photo courtesy of the S. Sycko collection)
Beginning on February 3, 1947, a John R.-Oakland Express
bus route was added, basically following the regular route from
Eight Mile and Ryan to downtown, with ten minute headways.
Express operation began at John R. and Woodland (just south
of Highland Park) into downtown. Effective on June 20, 1969,
the John R.-Oakland Express was rerouted along the Walter
P. Chrysler (I-75) Freeway, beginning from East McNichols into
downtown (see route map above).
Beginning on April 17, 1967, some John R.-Oakland trips via
Nevada and Dequindre were extended along Dequindre to 12
Mile Road, providing service to the Hazel Park Race Track,
and the Madison Heights Shopping Center on 12 Mile and
John R. But this extended service to 12 Mile Road and John R.
was discontinued on September 8, 1971, and the line was cut
back to Eight Mile Road and Dequindre.
However, the John R.-Oakland days as a city bus route were numbered, as the line would soon
become one of the last casualties under the former DSR era. Effective on June 15, 1973, the day
that the last major route changes were initiated under the DSR, the John R.-Oakland line was
discontinued. All service south of Manchester, along John R. and Brush streets, was eliminated,
while service north of Manchester, along Oakland Avenue to Eight Mile Road, became a part of the
Oakland bus line. Although the express route followed by the former John R.-Oakland Express
remained unchanged, it was renamed the Oakland Express, effective that same day.
Information for the above article compiled from data information supplied by Jack E. Schramm, courtesy of "DSR BUS ROUTES,
1922-1932" ("Detroit's DSR, Part 1" -- January-February 1991 edition of Motor Coach Age magazine),"DSR BUS ROUTES,
1932-1945" ("Detroit's DSR, Part 2" -- March-April 1992 edition of MCA magazine), and "DSR BUS ROUTES, 1945-1974"
("Detroit's DSR, Part 3" -- May-June 1993 edition of MCA magazine). Additional information compiled from 1957-58 and 1963
thru 1970 DSR Service Maps in the author's possession. The 1969 John R.-Oakland transfer courtesy of the Stan Sycko
|In this August 1942 photo, crowds of Detroiters line-up during WW-II to board the John R.-Oakland bus line
while standing in front of Sam's Discount Store on Campus Martius in Downtown Detroit. The route sign on
the second coach reads "JOHN R-OAKLAND VIA STATE FAIR," one of the two routes the bus line followed.
[Photo source: John Vachon photo, U.S. Library of Congress: American Memory Collection]