The earliest bus companies often actually used large automobiles or limousines, and were often known as "auto stage" companies. These were often sole proprietorships owning only one vehicle, or partnerships or family companies. And over the years, these companies were acquired or merged into the larger Greyhound or other companies. Information is not always easily available for the early bus companies. But between 1914 and 1929, all states except Delaware began regulating motor transportation. A bus company could only operate a route, if it was granted a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity by the regulatory commission in that state.
While intrastate motor transportation was generally all regulated by 1929, interstate motor transportation was not regulated until passage of the Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1935. This act gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) the authority to regulate bus routes providing interstate service.
In some situations, multiple bus companies might have operated along a same given highway. But only one company might have had local intrastate authority from the state regulatory agency. Other companies might have operated "closed door" over certain route segments, or had only interstate authority from the ICC.
In 1927, as the intercity bus industry was developing, Russell's Guides began publishing the monthly "Russell's Official National Motor Coach Guide", primarily for bus travel and ticket agents, and containing all intercity bus schedules throughout the United States and Canada. This was the bus equivalent of the "Official Guide of the Railways". Various issues of the Russell's Guide were used for information on historic bus companies, since the 1940's.
Included here is an overview map for each state, showing the intercity bus routes listed in the January 1976 Russell's Guide. Not shown are certain bus systems listed, which were of a more suburban or metropolitan nature. This was several years before passage of the Bus Regulatory Reform Act of 1982. This federal legislation deregulated the bus industry, resulting in the discontinuance of many routes, especially of a more local nature. This deregulation has made it possible for the bus route network to evolve more dynamically, and making the history in more recent years too complicated to further document here.
The overview maps are followed by links covering the histories of the bus companies. Generally for the Trailways and independent bus companies, scanned maps from various issues of the Russell's Guide are included. The Russell's Guide did not include such maps from most of the Greyhound companies. But route histories for most Greyhound companies were well documented in articles in various issues of the magazine "Motor Coach Age", published by the Motor Bus Society. And this information provides the basis for historic route descriptions for the Greyhound companies.
Description of data included for each Greyhound or Trailways route segment.
Information on Russell's Official National Motor Coach Guide, and how the table numbers evolved along with the intercity bus industry.
Most of the Motor Coach Age articles on intercity bus companies, have featured the various Greyhound and Trailways companies. With fewer historical articles covering the independent companies. The larger independent companies have basically are covered with scanned images of maps included in the Russell's Guide, along with brief histories where available.
For the smaller bus companies, one interesting resource which I acquired, is the 1952 "Mass Transportation's Directory". Listed are all known transit companies from that year, city suburban and intercity. Bus companies more of an intercity nature are listed in the Russell's Guide. While this directory provides an interesting "snapshot", of what other obscure bus companies had existed.
The next phase in this project, became possible when I located a thorough library collection of Russell's Guides, dating back to 1942. It thus became possible to trace the histories of the smaller intercity bus companies, in greater detail.
And currently ongoing, is research of early reports from the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the various state regulatory commissions, containing records of the issuance of each Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for each bus route.
To provide a complete history of intercity buses, would be a project too huge to undertake. So this information is provided more as an overview. Many bus companies added routes and discontinued routes throughout their histories. For independent bus companies, generally their original routes routes are mentioned. Some bus companies evolved throughout their histories, to where they ceased operations with route networks completely different from how they started.
The smaller companies included are generally those which are included in the July 1942 Russell's Guide or the 1952 Mass Transportation's Directory, and their predecessor and successor companies. Included are the years of operation, which before 1942 are usually not known. Bus companies were not always listed in the Russell's Guide with consistency, possibly resulting in some inaccuracies.