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DETROIT TRANSIT HISTORY
DETROIT TRANSIT HISTORY
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© 2009  (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 01-02-10)
THE HISTORY OF THE COOLIDGE TERMINAL
COOLIDGE TERMINAL (1947–48)
RECONSTRUCTION COSTS
(Estimated)
Storage Garage. . . .
$1,020,000.00
Gas House . . . . . . . .
65,000.00
Gas Dispensing
System . . . . . . . . . . .
170,000.00
Power Plant . . . . . . .
131,000.00
Maintenance and
Service
(Incl. Maintenance and
Inspection, Washing,
Stock Storage Units,
etc.)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
658,900.00
Fare Box, Gate,
Dispatchers House,
etc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
26,800.00
Terminal Building . .
199,800.00
Site Work
(Paving, Drainage,
Fences, etc.)
. . . . . . . . .
389,000.00
*TOTAL COST . .
$2,660,500.00
COOLIDGE BUS GARAGE (1938)
The original Coolidge coach service garage is seen here in this 1938 photo after having
recently undergone an extensive remodeling and expansion program. After the garage was
"streamlined" the facility was able to service up to 500 buses. The garage was later
demolished in 1947 to make way for new modern buildings.
The above 1938 photo shows the remodeled coach service area which was equipped with
five banks of fuel, oil and water pumps, all "metered." New overhead electrically-operated
doors were also installed to insure high speed servicing.
The above diagram shows the layout of the Coolidge bus garage and adjacent streetcar
yard. The bus garage and car house buildings were primarily used for the servicing of the
equipment and not for storage. The adjacent concrete areas along Schaefer Road
(left)
allowed for the outside storage of more than 500 buses.
(click photo to view larger version)
(Photos: Bus Transportation Magazine, March 1938, courtesy of Tom's Trolley Bus Pix)
Click here to return to "THE D-DOT YEARS" Main Page.
This Detroit News photo from June 22, 1948, shows the new $199,800 Coolidge Terminal office building nearing the final
stages of construction as part of an extensive $2.6 million DSR modernization and rehabilitation project.  Also visible is the
"Gas is Best!" natural gas reservoir in the distant background.  These huge structures were once a common sight in Detroit.
(Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University photo #29982 — see disclaimer below)
The Fourteenth Street line — which was
roughly  equivalent  to combining  today's
Linwood line with the 14th Street portion  
of the
Fenkell line — required miles of
deadheading to reach.  Access to the line
required pulling-out along the rails of both
the
Grand River and Oakman lines until
reaching  the  route  at  Ewald  Circle and  
Livernois.   Later, when the
Oakman line
was discontinued in December, 1945, and
its  rails  removed, access from
Coolidge
was   cut-off  and   the  
Fourteenth  car
line was  transferred  to  the  
Woodward
Carhouse
 in  Highland  Park. This again
left  
Grand  River  as  the  only  car  line
operating out of the
Coolidge location.

Also located on the property was a
DSR
bus operation, which had been expanding
rapidly since launched in 1925. During the
early years most bus routes were short
feeders under two miles, requiring one or
two buses.  When
Coolidge  opened in
1928, there were seven other bus garages
in operation at the time. However, many of
the smaller leased  buildings, such as the
American and Ward Avenue Garages,
were closed within a few months.

By 1937, only three of the largest garages
were left to house the
DSR's fleet of 1,152
buses, of which
304 were assigned to the
Coolidge Garage (the second largest in
the system)
.  The remainder of the fleet
was divided between the
 Highland Park
Garage
(597 coaches) and the east-side
Kercheval Garage (251).  But with the
DSR
's bus operation continuing to expand,
more bus facilities were later added to
other properties.  In 1938, the
Coolidge
Garage
  underwent  a  major  expansion
program, and bus capacity  at
Coolidge
increased   to  more  than  
500 — mostly
small
(21-pass.) — buses.

Meanwhile, starting  in  June  of  1930, a
new mode of public transportation had  
been introduced to Detroiters — electric
powered buses.  On June 14, 1930,  the  
Plymouth Electric line began operations
on  Plymouth  Road.   The  
six  trackless
trolley-buses used to service the line, all  
built by
Twin Coach, were housed out of
the  
Coolidge  Garage.  Although  there
were extensive plans to expand  this type
When the Detroit Department of Street Railways (DSR) opened its new Coolidge Carhouse and Bus Garage
on Sunday, February 26, 1928, it would place into operation the first transit property built by the City of Detroit that
could accommodate both streetcars and buses.  Originally named after
Coolidge Highway — the street on which it
was located
(which was renamed Schaefer Rd. in 1931) — the combined streetcar and bus facility was constructed
on the city's then sparsely populated northwest-side, within territory recently annexed from
Greenfield Township.
Located nearly eight miles from downtown,
Coolidge would be the farthest removed DSR facility from the city's core
street railway grid, but the closest to the developing newly acquired territories on the city's north and west sides.

On the day the
Coolidge facility opened, the Grand River streetcar line (which was just split-off from the previously
combined
Jefferson-Grand River line the year prior) was transferred from the east-side Jefferson Carhouse to
the new
Coolidge Carhouse.  Initially, Grand River was the only car line serviced by the Coolidge facility — being
easily accessible, with the carhouse located about ¼-of-a-mile north of the intersection of Grand River and Coolidge.

Although built for streetcar service, only two car lines operated out of the
Coolidge facility.  Because of its far-away
distance from most of the pre-1920s built street railway lines, only the heavily traveled
Grand River line (which
required a large fleet of cars)
, and later, the lightly traveled Fourteenth Street line (which was a good distance
away via rail)
, were assigned to the facility.
of service along the city's west-side, economics forced the electric trolley-bus service to be discontinued on Aug. 8,
1937.  The
Plymouth electric buses had unfortunately become a casualty of The Great Depression of the 1930s.

During the years leading up to the second world war, the
DSR continued to expand its bus operations, including a
plan made just prior to the war to replace the streetcars on the heavy
Grand River line with motor buses.  However,
the arrival of
World War-II resulted in government imposed regulations favoring increasing the usage of streetcars,
but the limiting of bus mileage, to help conserve rubber and gasoline for the war effort.  These restrictions would
place the
DSR's bus conversion plans temporarily on hold.
However, after the end of the war, the
DSR would again focus on its prewar
campaign to convert its entire system
over to "all-buses" by the early 1950s.
New  bus  facilities would  be needed
to    accommodate    the    expanding
motor  coach  operation.   In addition
to plans to  construct  a  new  all-bus  
terminal immediately adjacent to the
proposed
Edsel Ford Expressway,  
it was also determined  that a number
of current  facilities  would have to be
remodeled     and    modernized     to
accommodate the growing bus fleet.

In 1947, phase  one  of  a  
$6 million
terminal  modernization  program was
completed  with  the  opening of  new
This Xerox photo shows a fleet of DSR Peter Witt style cars parked along the north
end of the Coolidge property. Prior to 1947, streetcars assigned to the Grand River
and Fourteenth Street car lines operated out of the Coolidge Carhouse.
(Xerox photo copy courtesy of Kenneth Schramm)
large storage bays that were added to the east-side Shoemaker Terminal.  That same year, construction would
begin on the new
Samuel T. Gilbert Terminal, an all bus facility built within the city's mid-town section.

Also included in that
$6 million project was an extensive $2.6 million modernization and rehabilitation program
begun at the
Coolidge facility.  Effective May 4, 1947, the Coolidge Carhouse was closed and the Grand River
streetcar line was converted to motor bus operation the following day.  The cars and tracks on the property were
removed and the former buildings completely demolished, with new buildings of
"modern design" erected.  An
agreement was also reached with the
Arrow Steel Company, whose premises were adjacent to the Coolidge
property, for the storage of
DSR buses during the construction of a new storage garage.  An amount of $800.00 was
to be paid to the company for temporary storage of coaches over a
six month period.  Although similar in both
design and layout to the
Gilbert Terminal (also under construction at the time), the redesigned Coolidge facility
had more storage capacity and a somewhat larger floor area in its maintenance department.  Both terminals were
designed by the architectural firm,
Harley, Ellington & Day, Inc., and both facilities were completed in June of 1948.

The following is an estimated cost run-down for rebuilding and modernizing the
Coolidge Terminal during 1947-48.
In 1951 more changes were in store for the Coolidge Terminal when the Grand River bus line was converted
over to electric trackless trolley-coaches — with gradual conversion beginning in July of 1951.  The property had to
be upgraded with trolley related hardware and wired to accommodate the new fleet of electric powered coaches.  All
eighty of the St. Louis Car Company built electric trackless trolley-coaches used to service the Grand River line
were based out of the
Coolidge Terminal.
This June 1948 photo shows the entrance area to the recently completed Coolidge Terminal
Vehicle Maintenance building. Although similar in both layout-design and appearance to the
DSR's recently constructed Gilbert Terminal facility, the redesigned Coolidge facility had more
storage capacity and a somewhat larger floor area in its maintenance department.
(Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University photo #29982_1 — see below)
(*Figures were acquired from the article titled "DSR New Bus Garages" - October, 1948 edition of "BUS TRANSPORTATION" — courtesy of Tom's Trolleybus Pix Detroit)
During their heyday, the electrics provided frequent service. A DSR Weekday "School Closed" Schedules Analysis
Report
, effective June 24, 1954, shows the Grand River line required 58 trolley-coaches for the A.M. peak service,
60 for the P.M. peak, and 27 were needed for base operation.  Two minute headways were scheduled for A.M. and
P.M. operation, and four minute headways for the base service.  Only three coaches were needed for owl runs.

But after
DSR management decided during the mid-1950s to replace the entire fleet with GM diesel buses, the
department began phasing out its electric trolley-coaches.  On Nov. 16, 1962, trolley-coach service on the
Grand
River
line was discontinued and the Coolidge Terminal was again converted into an all motor bus facility, at the
time housing mostly
GM diesel buses.  The facility has remained an all bus operation to this day.
During those first years as an "all-bus" facility, as many as 411 coaches were required to maintain the scheduled
service on  lines assigned to the
Coolidge Terminal.  The following table shows which bus routes were assigned to
Coolidge for the weekday "School Open" schedules which took effect on Sept. 6, 1950.  The table also displays the
total number of weekday runs assigned to each line......
Between 1951 and 1962, a fleet of 80 electric trackless trolley-coaches, assigned to the Grand River line, were
based out of the Coolidge Terminal. For the most part, these rubber-tire electric buses—built by the St. Louis Car
Co.—were stored out of doors along the back dock at the east end of the property, as seen in the above photo.
(photo courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection)
BUS ROUTES ASSIGNED TO COOLIDGE TERMINAL — EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 6, 1950 TIMETABLES
BROADSTREET  (4) *
COOLIDGE SCHOOL RUNS (15)
FIVE POINTS  (3)
GRAND RIVER  (150)
GRAND RIVER EXPRESS
GREENFIELD  (5)
HAMILTON (C)  (45)
HAMILTON EXPRESS
LAHSER  (12)
LIVERNOIS  (59)
MEYERS  (12)
NORTHLAWN  (8)
PLYMOUTH-CANIFF  (52)
PURITAN-FENKELL  (41)
SCHAEFER  (3)
SCHOOLCRAFT  (26)
SIX MILE SHUTTLE  (3)
SOUTHFIELD  (10)
SECOND AVENUE (C)  (30)
SECOND AVENUE EXPRESS
TRUMBULL RAILBUS  (8)
WEST CHICAGO  (15)
WYOMING (C)  (30)
 
*(  ) Number displayed in parentheses denotes the total number of daily weekday runs assigned to each line
(January 2008 photo taken by Reggie A. Craig)
Today, the Coolidge Terminal facility continues as one of three bus terminals still owned by the Detroit
Department of Transportation
(DDOT). Over the years — while operating under a three-terminal operation — the
facility serviced most of the north and west-side
DDOT routes.  However, with the east-side Shoemaker Terminal
currently closed as part of a massive reconstruction project, the
Coolidge Terminal operates as one of two
terminals currently servicing the city.  Currently, a fleet of nearly
260 coaches are assigned to the facility.  The
location also houses
DDOT's emergency radio dispatch and customer service communication operations.
Virtual Motor City Collection photos #29982 and 29982_1 used by permission of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.
All rights, including those of further reproduction and/or publication, are reserved in full by the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.  Photographic
reproductions may be protected by U.S. copyright law (U.S. Title 17).  The user is fully responsible for copyright infringement.
Information for the above article was compiled from various sources, including "DETROIT'S STREET RAILWAYS Vol II: City Lines 1922-1956" by Schramm,
Henning and Dworman (Bulletin 120 – Central Electric Railfans' Association); from
Motor Coach Age magazine articles "Detroit's DSR, Parts 1 thru 3" written by
Jack E. Schramm; and from miscellaneous articles posted at
Tom's Trolley Bus Pix Detroit. Additional information also obtained from the 1947 edition of the
Journal of the Detroit Common Council. September 6, 1950 and June 24, 1954 DSR Schedule Analysis and Headway Reports courtesy of Tom Breeding.
FOR RELATED TOPICS SEE:
The unique website which takes a detailed look back at the History of Public Transportation in
and around the City of Detroit.
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D-DOT COOLIDGE TERMINAL UPDATE!! ...The Coolidge Terminal facility has been closed "temporarily" since January 14, 2012, as the property currently undergoes a major renovation project.