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 info from
1957-58 and 1963 DSR Service Maps in the author's possession. The 1977 John R. North transfer courtesy of the Stan Sycko transfer collection.
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D.S.R. Route #47
Although it's been many years ago, at one time bus service along John R. provided
an important service for those residents who lived on the north-end of the city. The
territory north of the City of Highland Park had only recently become part of Detroit,
having been annexed by the City from Greenfield Township in 1916. But because the
area, which had been primarily farmland, was located too far to the north of the city's
existing streetcar lines, the residents found themselves without any adequate form of
However, after the Ford Motor Company's Highland Park Assembly Plant -- the
birthplace of the Model T -- opened in 1910, it soon spurred tremendous grown with-
in that area. When Henry Ford began offering the $5-a-day wage to his employees in
1914, the population surrounding the plant boomed. With 70,000 workers employed
at the huge facility by 1923, Henry Ford would begin to demand better service to the
plant from the DSR.
Consequently, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that almost immediately after
the DSR's motor-bus division began operations on January 1, 1925, that bus service
along John R. would soon follow. With a "temporary" leased garage now located on
Woodward and Stevens, one block south of Six Mile, bus service on the John R. bus
line would begin on February 1, 1925. The John R. route would become the seventh
bus line to be put into service by the DSR's motor bus division.
The new John R. line operated from the Ford Highland Park Plant on Woodward and
Manchester, and then traveled via Woodward, Ferris, John R., State Fair and Oakland
to Eight Mile. But it wouldn't take long for the DSR to realize that its fleet of small-size
21-passenger Graham buses were overwhelmed by the line's tremendous passenger
loads. This would force the department in 1926 to lease 10, larger-size, 29-passenger
Yellow Coach Type Z coaches from the DUR's People's Motor Coach Company,
to service John R. These buses could handle 44 passengers, including standees.
However, John R. would soon become the DSR's busiest bus route. In July of 1926,
seven of the DUR's Yellow Coach double-decker coaches were also leased for peak-
hour service on both the John R. and the Conant line -- which serviced the Dodge
Brothers Plant in Hamtramck. After fifty new American Car and Foundry (ACF)
|Beginning in June 1957, this 3½ mile
long route for the John R. North bus
line would remain unchanged through
1988, when the line was discontinued.
built double-decker coaches were delivered to the DSR in November of 1926, eleven were assigned to the new Second
Avenue Garage (located on Second and LaBelle in the DSR's Highland Park facility) for "full-time" service on the John
R. line. By January of 1927, headways on John R. averaged 5 minutes during peak-hours and 10 minutes during the
base. Eight to nine ACF double-decker coaches operated during the peak, while four were used the rest of the day.
|Up to nine of these locally-built 60-passenger American Car & |
Foundry (ACF) double-decker coaches operated along the
heavy John R. line during the 1920's.
|However, during the 1940's and 50's, only the small-size |
27-passenger coaches, like these Ford Transit buses, were
assigned to the John R. North line.
|By the early 1960's the smaller 40-passenger GM diesels, or |
these 37-passenger gasoline-powered Twin transit coaches
(seen in photo) saw service on the John R. North line.
In the meantime, while the DSR was operating bus service
along the north end of John R. Street, the privately-owned
Detroit Motorbus Company (DMB) was also operating a
John R. route south of Manchester into downtown Detroit.
However, when the DMB's license to operate in Detroit was
revoked by the Common Council, effective on January 1,
1932, the DSR took-over that company's city bus lines. As
a result, the DSR ended up with two John R. bus routes.
To avoid confusion, the DSR's John R. route was renamed
"John R. North," while the former Detroit Motorbus line
was renamed as "John R. South." This "John R. North"
designation would follow the northern route for its duration
as a bus line.
During the DSR years, the John R. North bus route would
undergo a few adjustments. By 1932, the route had already
been adjusted along John R.-- now operating along John R.
from Six Mile to Eight Mile Roads. By 1939, the service along
Eight Mile Road had been gradually extended as far east as
Hoover, but was cut back to Oakland when the Eight Mile
East bus line was launched on May 20, 1940. In 1942, the
service was extended north along Oakland and Stephenson
Highway (both now I-75), then via John R. and Nine Mile to
Woodward. However, this extension was discontinued in
1947, with one final route adjustment to East Eight Mile and
Dequindre made in June of 1957.
During its remaining years of operation, the John R. North
would see dramatic reductions in its service. After the Ford
Motor Company began moving most of its operations to
its Ford Rouge facility, ridership on the John R. North line
plummeted. Back in 1950, the John R. North operated 24-
hours a day, with headways averaging six to seven minutes
during peak-hours and 14 minutes during the base. Seven
of the small 27-passenger Ford Transit coaches were used
during peak-hours, three operated during the off-peak, with
one coach operating during owl hours. By 1968, headways
had increased to 23 minutes all day, and 25 minutes during
evening hours, with service now ending around 2:30AM.
By the time DDOT arrived in July of 1974, only one bus was
needed to operate the line, as headways had increased to 45
minutes during peak-hours, with no service offered off-peak
hours. With increasing low ridership numbers, and the route
basically being duplicated by the SEMTA #495 John R line,
DDOT decided to eliminate the John R. North, effective on
Tuesday, September 6, 1988. Bus service along one of the city's historic bus routes had come to a close. However, the
suburban bus operation along this route has continued on throughout the years.
JOHN R. STREET FACTOID:
Did you know??? ...That in addition to Woodward Avenue, John R. street also divides the city of Detroit
along its east and west sides. Many Detroiters naturally assume that it's only the city's main throughfare —
Woodward Avenue — which geographically divides the city, beginning from the Detroit River out to the city
limits at Eight Mile Road. Actually, Woodward does serve as a dividing line where the east–side meets the
west–side through most of Detroit. However, this is not the case north of Highland Park or McNichols Road
(Six Mile Road). The last two northern miles of the city is divided east and west by John R. Street.
|(July 5 1977 John . North
D-DOT Transfer courtesy of the Stan Sycko Transfer Collection)
FOOTNOTE: Although DDOT bus service along John R. was discontinued on September 6, 1988, this would not
be the end of DDOT's presence along John R. Street. DDOT bus service would later return to John R. three more
times during the coming years. This DDOT service is dealt with in articles on the Woodward-John R. and John R.
Limited bus lines.