Class I railroads of the U. S. carried 445,995,000 passengers in 1935. Last week, the National Association of Motor Bus Operators announced that non-local bus lines had beaten this mark by carrying 651,999,000 passengers in 1935. An increase of almost 50% over 1934, it was the first time busses had handled more traffic than their biggest rivals. To keep pace with this new business, the largest U. S. bus line, Greyhound Corp., last week whelped the first 25 of a litter of 305 new busses, completely outmoding present standard equipment.
Manufactured by General Motors, the new busses are chiefly notable in having their motors in the rear. This allows the driver to sit far forward, gives more room, makes the busses look almost the same at each end. They carry 36 passengers, three more than before, have roomier seats, indirect lighting. To eliminate "wheel seats" (seats over the wheel housing), the passenger deck is raised nearly 2 ft. so that passengers step up from the centre aisle. Made of aluminum, each coach is 5,000 lb. lighter than the old style, is rakishly painted to give an effect of graceful lines to its ugly rectangular bulk. First ones went into service last week between Boston and New York.
Very similar in design to the new Greyhound busses are the East's first sleeper-busses, introduced on the Chicago-New York run last month by a new company named All American Bus Lines. The West Coast has had sleepers since 1928. Last year Greyhound extended its "nite-coach" service eastward as far as Kansas City (TIME, May 6, 1935). That the East was ripe for a similar facility was amply proven last week by the crowds which filled All American's sleepers to 95% of capacity.
The only transcontinental line not financed by railroads, All American started last September with $1,000,000 capital, now operates some 30 day coaches. The new sleepers, built in Los Angeles by Crown Body Works and Columbia Coach Works, are about the best in the country. They have four compartments on each side, each compartment seating or sleeping three persons and containing a lavatory. Chief improvement, in addition to lightness, streamlining and quiet, is airconditioning, based on a new system. Previous sleepers have had cooling apparatus which never succeeded because it was too heavy. The new lightweight system, installed by Dry-Ice Appliance Corp. of Mount Vernon, Ill., consists of a chemical refrigerant piped around the girth of the bus after passing over carbon dioxide. A 12-hr, run in 100° temperature requires 100 lb. of dry ice. Cost: $2.
Less roomy than Pullmans, the new sleepers have a great advantage in price. A Chicago-New York lower berth Pullman ride costs $33.25. In the bus it costs $20.25and all meals are free. At present limited to this run, which they make in 26 hr., the new sleepers will go on a transcontinental schedule as soon as more are built.