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PRE-SEMTA SUBURBAN BUSES - Pg. 4
MARTIN LINES, INC. (1935–1975)
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The Martin Lines was a privately-owned suburban Detroit bus company that provided bus service to Highland
Park, Royal Oak and Troy.  The early history of this company goes back to
Ira and Robert Martin, two
brothers
(initially backed by their father) who began a small bus line through Royal Oak around 1922.  Operating
under the name "
Martin & Sons," the route operated from the Ford plant in Highland Park, via Woodward and
Main St, to 14 Mile Rd in Clawson.  However, the route was sold to the
DUR's Star Motor Coach Line in 1927.

On March 1, 1927, shortly after the sale of their Royal Oak line, the Martin brothers purchased a bus route along
John R. St from the
Detroit Motorbus Co.  This route operated from the Ford auto plant at Woodward and
Manchester in Highland Park, via Woodward, Six Mile, John R., 11 Mile, Main St and Rochester Rd to Rochester.
In 1929, the company launched a second Rochester to Highland Park route via Lincoln, Campbell, Hilton, Eight
Mile and Woodward to the Highland Park plant.  These two routes would survive until sold to
SEMTA in 1975.

In February 1929, a new route along Coolidge Highway
(Schaefer) from 14 Mile, through the city of Detroit, to
the new
Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn was launched.  This route, with its various branches (including service to
Rochester and Big Beaver Rd (16 Mile))
operated until 1935, operating under the name "Big Beaver Bus Co."    

By the time the company was renamed
"Martin Lines, Inc." in 1935, only the two Highland Park–Royal Oak
routes remained.  The original John R. route now terminated at Center and Fourth St
(south of 11 Mile) in Royal
Oak.  Although the Hilton route, via Woodward, Eight Mile, Hilton, Campbell, Lincoln, Troy and Fourth St, also  
terminated at this same location, some trips were extended along Main and Rochester to Big Beaver Rd in Troy.

Although
Martin Lines would build a new bus garage on 11 Mile just east of Main St. in Troy in 1947, aside
from a short-lived route along Ten Mile Rd between John R. and Van Dyke, no additional lines were added by the
company.  However, after the opening of the Oakland Mall on John R. and 14 Mile in Troy, MI, the John R. route
was extended to the mall in 1967, resulting in alternating trips between the mall and the Royal Oak terminus.

Even though only two routes were provided by
Martin Lines during most of its operating years, the company
still managed to service a number of southeast Oakland County communities, including Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel
Park, Madison Heights, Royal Oak and Troy, and of course Highland Park and Detroit.   
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Early White Motor Company Buses (Not Pictured)
When the Martin brothers purchased the Rochester (John R.) line from the Detroit Motorbus
Co. in 1927, a fleet of ten buses
(possibly Fifth Avenue or Six-Wheel) were acquired with the
purchase.  That same year, the company began purchasing
new buses from the White Motor Co.
based out of Cleveland, OH.   Ten
(29-pass) Model 54 Deluxe parlor buses were purchased
between 1927 and 1929.  After the Depression, the company moved toward transit buses with
eight of the small
(27-33 pass) White Model 706-M coaches purchased between 1937 and 1939.
WHITE MOTOR COMPANY COACHES
GM "NEW-LOOK" COACHES
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The transit vehicles displayed on these Suburban Photo Pages were purchased by the
privately-owned bus companies that serviced Detroit's suburbs before being acquired by
the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority
(SEMTA) between 1971-1975.
GM "OLD-LOOK" COACHES
While most of the surrounding transit company bus fleets had become all GM by the 1960s,
some of the Martin Lines' nearly 20-year old Whites were still chugging along.  In this July 1963
photo, an unidentified Martin Lines Model 782-1 White is south along Woodward Ave just south
of Eight Mile
(across from the State Fairgrounds) and en route to Woodward and Manchester
while working the Big Beaver extension of the Highland Park-Royal Oak-Troy via Hilton route.
[photo source unknown — image used for educational purposes]
After the White Motor Co left the transit bus business in 1953, Martin Lines turned to GM for its
remaining bus orders.  Between 1954 and 1958, Martin Lines purchased seven new GM
"Old-Looks"
(#30-35, 45).  All seven were the 45-passenger (35-ft x 96-inch) Model TDH-4512.  
This photo appears to have been taken at GM Truck & Coach in Pontiac and shows a brand new
unidentified coach sporting the Martin Lines livery of red, blue and silver with black pinstripes.
[photo courtesy of the Samuel Braxton Jr. Bus Photo Collection]
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Martin Lines GM "New-Look" Buses (Photos Not Available)
Between 1960 and 1967, the Martin Lines bus company would purchase eleven GM New-Look
design coaches.  Although all eleven would be the 35-foot long by 96-inch wide 45-passenger
models, two of the suburban configuration design (coaches #55-56) where purchased in 1967.

Unfortunately, no photos of these coaches are currently available for display on this website.
However, this web-page will be updated if these photos become available.
ATTENTION: The "DetroitTransitHistory.info" website is in need of additional photos of the
Martin Lines GM "Old-Look" model TDH-4512.  These would include b-&-w and/or color photos
of that series transit coach manufactured by
General Motors Truck & Coach:
* Martin Lines coaches #30 thru #35 and #45 — delivered between 1954-58
* Martin Lines coach #50 (former GM demo TDH-4512/002) — delivered in 1963

Interior photos of these Martin Lines old-look coaches are also needed.  If you would like to share
your photos to be displayed on this website please contact the site-administrator at:
detbusfan@detroittansithistory.info
(proper credit will be given to the photo contributor, unless requested otherwise)
.
ATTENTION: The "DetroitTransitHistory.info" website is very much in need of photos of the  
Martin Lines GM "New-Look" models TDH-4517, TDH-4519 and SDH-4502.  We welcome
b-&-w and/or color photos of these coaches manufactured by
General Motors Truck & Coach:
* Martin Lines coaches #46 thru #49, #51 thru #56 and #43 — delivered between 1960-67

Interior photos of these Martin Lines GM New-Look models
(a.k.a. "fishbowls" or "silver-sides")
are also needed.  If you would like to share your photos to be displayed on this website please contact
the site-administrator at:
detbusfan@detroittansithistory.info
(proper credit will be given to the photo contributor, unless requested otherwise)
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With the passage of Public Act 327 0f 1972, state funds were now available through a 2¢ per gallon gasoline
tax that allowed
SEMTA to begin purchasing Detroit's financially-strapped suburban bus companies.

The small
Martin Lines company (along with its limited ICC charter license rights) was the last of the suburban
Detroit bus companies to be acquired by
SEMTA.  The company's inter-state charter license into five states and
Washington D.C. no doubt made the acquisition more attractive, which
SEMTA would continue using to operate
chartered service trips to Cedar Point and into other locations outside of Michigan for some years to come.

Effective March 20, 1975,
SEMTA took-over operation of the Martin Lines routes, which became part of
SEMTA's Great Lakes Division.  At the time of purchase, Martin Lines, Inc. operated 19 buses along two
Highland Park-Royal Oak-Troy routes — one via Hilton, the other via John R.  While the Hilton-Campbell
route was eventually discontinued, the John R. route is still serviced today by
SMART route #495 John R.

Although all 19 Martin buses were acquired by SEMTA at purchase, the eight GM Old-Looks were never used.
SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY PURCHASE
CLICK-ON "SEMTA HISTORY – Pt. 2" FOR MORE ON THE SALE OF SUBURBAN BUS COMPANIES TO SEMTA
Please click-on link to return to the "SUBURBAN TRANSIT" Main Page.
For Comments & Suggestions Please Contact Site Owner at: admin@detroittransithistory.info
© 2015  (PAGE last MODIFIED ON 05-28-15, 07-10-15)
Information for the above was gathered from various newspaper articles supplied by Stan Sycko; numerous bus enthusiasts websites; and
from Motor Coach Age Magazine articles on the history of Detroit's suburban lines co-authored by Jack E. Schramm and Robert L. Cambell,
including the Oct-Dec 2002 edition titled "Detroit's Suburban Buses" and the Oct-Dec 2003 edition "SEMTA and SMART."
In April 1963, Martin Lines would acquire former experimental demo coach TDH-4512/002.
Originally built in 1953, this coach was turned over to GM Research Laboratories and modified
with a gas-turbine GT-309 engine and other special instruments.  The world's first gas-turbine
powered bus would be known as "Turbo-Cruiser I."  In 1963, an improved turbine engine was
placed in a GM New-Look coach, resulting in Turbo-Cruiser I being rebuilt as a standard
diesel-powered coach.  It was later sold to Martin Lines, becoming coach #50 seen in photo.
[Photo courtesy of MCA (Oct-Dec 2002 issue) used for educational purposes]
COACHES PURCHASED BY MARTIN LINES lFROM 1945 THRU 1975
FLEET
NUMBER
MAKE
MODEL
NUMBER
YEAR
SEAT
CAP.
FLEET INFORMATION (MISC.)
53-58
WHITE
782-1
1946
32
 
59-60
WHITE
788-1
1948
41
 
33-35
GM
TDH-4512
1954
45
GM Old-Look – 35-foot diesel – air-suspension now standard equipm't
32
GM
TDH-4512
1955
45
GM Old-Look – 35-foot diesel
31
GM
TDH-4512
1956
45
GM Old-Look – 35-foot diesel
30
GM
TDH-4512
1957
45
GM Old-Look – 35-foot diesel
45
GM
TDH-4512
1958
45
GM Old-Look – 35-foot diesel
46-47
GM
TDH-4517
1960
45
GM New-Look – 35-foot diesel
48
GM
TDH-4517
1962
45
GM New-Look – 35-foot diesel
49
GM
TDH-4519
1963
45
GM New-Look – 35-foot diesel (Second Generation GM New-Looks begin)
*50
GM
TDH-4512
*1953
(1963)
45
GM Old-Look – 35-foot diesel  (built in 1953 as "Turbo-Cruiser I" demo)
(gas-turbine rebuilt as standard diesel in 1963 – sold to Martin Lines)
51
GM
TDH-4519
1964
45
GM New-Look – 35-foot diesel
54
GM
TDH-4519
1965
45
GM New-Look – 35-foot diesel
52
GM
TDH-4519
1966
45
GM New-Look – 35-foot diesel
55-56
GM
SDH-4502
1967
45
GM New-Look (Suburban) – 35-foot diesel
43, 53
GM
TDH-4519
1967
45
GM New-Look – 35-foot diesel
NOTE: Coach numbers highlighted in Yellow still on roster when SEMTA purchased Martin Lines on Mar. 20, 1975
Although included in purchase, none of the GM Old-Looks (coaches #30-35, 45 and 50) were placed into service by SEMTA.
(Click-on photo to view larger image)
In 1937, White Motor Co. redesigned its transit bus line by introducing the Model 788.  Martin
Lines purchased five of the smaller
(32-pass) Model 782 (#41-43, 44— first 782 built (ex-demo),
and 52)
, between 1941–42, and six of the Model 782-1 (#53-58) in 1946.  Five used Model 782
(#36-40) were also purchased during this time.  In 1948, Martin Lines would purchase two of
the larger-size
(41-pass) Model 788-1 (#59-60).  This 1948 White Motor Co. photo shows one of
the two Model 788-1 purchased by Martin Lines — the last Whites purchased by the company.
[White Motor Company photo – American Truck Historical Society Collection]
(Click-on photo to view larger image)