The Eight Mile West bus line can definitely go down in Detroit transit history as a route that had many lives,
although most of them were short-lived. It appears that the existence of a W. Eight Mile bus line seemed to henge upon which route the DSR assigned to its Conant or Conant-W. Eight Mile bus routes.
THE EARLY D.S.R. YEARS:
The existence of bus service along West Eight Mile Road owes its beginnings to the success of the Ford Motor Co.
Highland Park (Model T) Assembly Plant — birthplace of the $5-a-day wage. As the population along Detroit's far
north end (annexed from Greenfield Twp in 1916) began to boom as a result of the plant, the demand would arise to
provide bus service to the plant from that area, which up until then had been unserviced by public transportation.
On Sunday, November 16, 1924, the DSR launched its Eight Mile Road bus route. This was actually the third bus
route to be placed into operation under the DSR, being launched prior to the start of the department's motor coach
division. Since the DSR didn't have any buses at the time, the service along Eight Mile was operated under contract
arrangement with the Detroit Morotbus Company. However, after the launching of the DSR's Motor Coach
Division on Jan. 1, 1925, and as more buses became available, the DSR took over the route on June 22, 1925.
The original Eight Mile Road route operated from the Ford plant at Woodward and Manchester in Highland Park to
W. Eight Mile Road and Turner, west of Livernois. On April 5, 1925, the route was extended to Wyoming, but now
terminated at the State Fairgrounds, where it connected with the Woodward streetcar line, which had now been
extended to the Fairgrounds. Aside from a brief interruption in service in 1933, the Eight Mile line would continue
to operate until it was replaced by the extension of the Conant line to Eight Mile and Wyoming on Feb. 15, 1937.
WORLD WAR-II YEARS:
The next existence of the Eight Mile West line began on June 1, 1942, when it operated as the Eight Mile West
Shuttle. The line operated from the Fairgrounds and traveled via Woodward and Eight Mile Road to Schaefer and
W. Eight Mile. The shuttle's only hours of operation were during evenings and Sundays —- as it replaced a portion
of the Woodward bus route (the former Woodward Delux* route) during that line's non-operating hours.
However — just four weeks later — on June 29, 1942, the shuttle would become a full time bus route, and was
renamed Eight Mile West. It replaced the Eight Mile branch of the Woodward coach line —- which had branches
along Seven and Eight Mile Roads. The Woodward bus service had been discontinued after the Office of Defence
Transportation (ODT) banned all bus lines that duplicated streetcar routes. The purpose was to help conserve
gasoline and rubber during the war. This new bus route was launched to continue the service along W. Eight Mile.
Effective Sept. 8, service was extended to Eight Mile and Lahser. But after two years the Eight Mile West line was
discontinued — effective June 14, 1944 — after the Conant route was once again extended along Eight Mile Road,
creating the Conant-Eight Mile West bus line.
THE POST-WAR YEARS:
The Eight Mile Shuttle service was again resurrected on Sunday, July 18, 1948, after the Conant-Eight Mile line
was cut back to Meyers Road. The 4-½ mile long shuttle route operated along W. Eight Mile Road, from Meyers to
Lahser. Although the shuttle would operate a few years longer than the route that precessed it, its fate would be the
same. Effective April 24, 1953, the Eight Mile Shuttle was also discontinued and again replaced by an extension
of the Conant-Eight Mile West route.
|Information for the above article compiled from data info supplied by Jack E. Schramm, courtesy of "DSR BUS ROUTES,
1932-1945" ("Detroit's DSR, Part 2" -- March-April 1992 edition of Motor Coach Age magazine), and "DSR BUS ROUTES,
1945-1975" ("Detroit's DSR, Part 3" -- May-June 1993 edition of Motor Coach Age magazine), and also from the 1957-58 and
1963 DSR Service Maps already in the author's possession. Additional information courtesy of the Stan Sycko Transit Collection.
But the Eight Mile West route wasn't dead yet.
Effective on Oct. 29, 1956, service began along
Eight Mile Road from the Northland Shopping
Center to W. Eight Mile and Inkster roads (near
Grand River). However, on April 1, 1957, the
route was rerouted south along Beech Road
(present day Beech Daly Road) to Joy Road
(six miles to the south), and was renamed Eight
Mile–Beech Road. But this short-lived route
was discontinued in just over two months, with
the portion along W. Eight Mile Road again being
replaced by the Conant–Eight Mile bus line,
effective on June 20, 1957. The Conant line
would continue to service W. Eight Mile Road,
from the Fairgrounds Loop to Lahser, until its
Eight Mile Road operation was eventually taken
over on June 25, 1994, by the former #17 Eight
Mile East line, which had already been extended
(day-time only) along W. Eight Mile Road in 1980.
*DELUX ROUTES were originally extra-fare fast service lines initiated in 1928 by the DSR after jitneys were outlawed off of Detroit
streets. Smaller 15-passenger parlor buses were used and operated sort of like "jitney-buses," so to speak. There were no transfers
issued or accepted, and once all seats were filled a sign was placed in the windshield and the bus ran nonstop until a passenger got
off. These so-called "Delux routes" operated on Woodward, Grand River, Mack and Jefferson — all former jitney lines. But by 1938,
regular buses were being used and the two remaining Delux routes became regular bus lines, and were used to supplement street-
car service along Grand River and Woodward. However, these lines were discontinued in 1942 by federal order under the ODT.
|© 2006 (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 11-29-09)
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|During World War II and the years that followed, four separate bus routes would operate along West Eight Mile Road. The
map above features three of the routes that operated between 1942 and 1957, with each route highlighted by a different
color-code. The map of the fourth and final route "EIGHT MILE WEST" is pictured below.
THE FINAL YEARS:
That final resurrection of the Eight Mile West line would occur on April 1, 1960, when the Eight Mile West would
replace a portion of the former Five Points bus route. This new route now operated from McNichols at Rockdale,
via McNichols, Lahser, and Eight Mile, to W. Eight Mile and Grand River (just past Inkster Road). Although ridership
was light, the Eight Mile West would continue to operate as a separate line for nearly six-and-a-half years. The line
was discontinued for the last time on Sept. 7, 1966, however, this time it was replaced by the Imperial Express line,
where it continued as an Imperial "Seven Mile" Express off-peak hour shuttle well into the DDOT years (with
peak-hour branch trips via Lahser and Eight Mile Rd.). Today, route #78 Imperial Limited still operates peak-hour
branch trips along the former Eight Mile West route, but only to Eight Mile and Five Points (the city limits).
The former Eight Mile West line operated only during peak hours, Monday thru Friday, with coaches scheduled
every forty minutes. To view a 1960 DSR flyer announcing the new EIGHT MILE WEST line see D.S.R. BULLETIN.
|The above map shows the route followed by the Eight Mile West
bus line during its last years of operation. The 5-mile long route
provided bus service to the far northwest corner of the city. Two
extra-fare 5¢ zones were in place outside the city limits.
Route operated under DSR