When the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) was formed in 1974, most of the bus service in Chicago's suburbs was operated by various privately owned bus companies A few of these privately owned bus companies descended from a few electric railways, which once operated in some of Chicago's older suburbs.


Brief history, on how the separate private suburban bus companies evolved into a single suburban bus system.


Earlier histories on the various electric railways and bus companies, which eventually evolved to the Pace system. The company histories are generally grouped according to present Pace operating division. Aurora and Elgin are grouped together because of a long common history of being part of the same company. Also included is Evanston, where the CTA emerged as the operator of the bus routes.


Service was provided by the Evanston Railway Co., later the Evanston Bus Co. In 1973, the Evanston Bus Co. ceased operations after lengthy strike. And because the RTA or Pace did not exist as the time, the CTA was the only agency suited to operate bus service in Evanston. CTA continues to operate most of the service.

Streetcar Map
Car Houses/Bus Garages


The Glenview Bus Co. began operations in 1940, serving Glenview, Wilmette, and nearby northern suburbs. That company closed down in 1974, and the village of Wilmette assumed operation of some routes. In 1995, Pace opened its North Shore Division in Evanston at 2330 Oakton St., initially assuming the Wilmette routes. The North Shore Division eventually took over a few additional routes from the Northwest Division.

Bus Garages


Bus service in the northwest suburbs was first introduced in 1922 by White Line Motor Bus Co., with two routes between Jefferson Park and Park Ridge. Additional early bus companies operating in the area were Suburban Auto Coach Co. and Federal Transportation Co. In 1927, those three companies merged to form United Motor Coach Co. In 1930, United Motor Coach acquired Des Plaines Motor Coach Line, which had introduced two local routes in Des Plaines during the previous year. In 1959, United Motor Coach acquired some routes previously operated by American Coach Co. of Skokie. At one time United Motor Coach operated as far west as Elgin and Harvard, but routes were scaled back by the 1970's. In 1975 United Motor Coach became publicly owned Nortran (North Suburban Mass Transit District), and in 1991 became Pace Northwest Division.

Bus Garages


The Chicago & West Towns Railway Co., later West Towns Bus Co., operated in Chicago's near west suburbs. In 1963 company acquired Leyden Motor Coach Co. In 1981 company was sold to RTA, managed by ATE. Became directly operated as became Pace West Division in 1985.

Streetcar Map (1889-1913)
Streetcar Map (1913-1948)
Streetcar Roster
Car Houses/Bus Garages


Early local transportation in Chicago's south suburbs was provided by the Chicago & Interurban Traction Co., operating an electric railway between Chicago's south side and Kankakee. The railway ceased operating in 1927, and South Suburban Motor Coach was formed, operating some replacement routes. South Suburban Motor Coach had two subsidiaries, Illinois Roadway Lines and Kankakee-Grant Park Bus Line, which were merged into the main company in 1930. Reorganized 1933 as South Suburban Safeway Lines. Also in the 1930's, acquired Chicago Heights Transportation Co. In 1983, South Suburban Safeway Lines was sold to RTA, managed by ATE. Became directly operated as Pace South Division in 1985.

Chicago & Interurban Traction Co. Map
Bus Garages


In 1921, Suburban Transit System began operating in Oak Lawn and neighboring southwest suburbs, under name South West Towns Bus Line. Renamed 1938 to Suburban Transit System, as company attempted to expand into north suburbs. In 1983 company was sold to RTA, managed by ATE. Became directly operated as Pace Southwest Division in 1985.

Between 1938 and 1944, Suburban Transit System operated the Lincoln Ave. route in the north suburbs, which eventually evolved to Pace route 210. In 1944, the route was sold to American Coach Co., which in 1959 was sold to United Motor Coach Co.

Bus Garages


Until 1934, the Chicago & Joliet Electric Railway Co. operated local streetcars within Joliet, and an interurban line between Joliet and Chicago's southwest side. The replacement local bus service was assumed by Joliet City Lines, a subsidiary of National City Lines, while the replacement interurban bus service was assumed by Bluebird Coach Lines. The local and interurban bus routes were eventually assumed by the city owned Joliet Mass Transit District, now Pace Heritage Division.

Streetcar Map
Interurban Railway Map
1976 RTA Bus Map
Car Houses/Bus Garages


Several electric railways were eventually consolidated into the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric Co., providing local streetcar service within its two namesake cities, and interurban service along the Fox River between those two cities. All electric railway service was replaced by buses by 1935, and in 1936 all bus operations were taken over by the newly formed National City Lines. By the early 1970's, all buses were operated by city owned systems in Aurora and Elgin. And by the early 1990's, Pace assumed operation of those bus systems.

Aurora Streetcar Map
Elgin Streetcar Map
Interurban Railway Map
Aurora City Lines Bus Map
Elgin City Lines Bus Map
Car Houses/Bus Garages (Aurora)
Car Houses/Bus Garages (Elgin)

Chicago Aurora & Elgin Web Site
Link to an excellent Web site with history, rosters, and other information about the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad, which from 1906 to 1924 was part of the same company operating local streetcars.


Until 1947, local streetcars were operated by the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad Co., which was better known for its interurban railway service. With the elimination of the last streetcars in 1947, a subsidiary Waukegan-North Chicago Transit Co. was formed to operate the local buses. Company was sold in 1963 after abandonment of North Shore interurban line. In 1982 company was sold to RTA, managed by ATE. Became directly operated as Pace North Division in 1985.

Streetcar Map
WNCT Bus Map
Car Houses/Bus Garages

North Shore Line Web Site
Link to an excellent Web site with history, rosters, and other information about the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad, which operated Waukegan's transit system until its demise in 1963.


These electric railways connected on the fringes of the Chicago metropolitan area. After discontinuance, some lines were replaced with buses. But any replacement buses were all discontinued prior to the formation of RTA and Pace.


Information on three obscure streetcar systems in Chicago's south suburbs, which ceased operation earlier than the other systems.


Additional bus companies which once operated in Chicago's suburbs.

Some information for these pages is from the Moody investment manuals from past years, and from various publications of the Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA).

Go to Chicago Transit & Railfan Web Site