A National City Lines predecessor assumed operation of Joliet's buses in 1934, after conversion from the last streetcars operated by the Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway. There were numerous changes with the bus routes over the years, to where there is little resemblance between the streetcar system and the present bus system.
Effective 9/2/75, the RTA implemented a major overhaul of the bus route structure in Joliet. Noted here are only the most major route changes since that time.
For many years, several route numbers in Joliet were used for two different completely unrelated routes. This also was the case for Joliet City Lines (JCL) route numbers. Presumably there was a history of through routing. But the last "schizophrenic" route numbers were eliminated in 2008.
501 - West Jefferson - operated as far west as Essington until the late 1980's, when the #508 Larkin Crosstown route was discontinued. Route #508 had previously been the one route serving Joliet Junior College. Same route number was also assigned to Forest Park route until 11/24/2008, when as part of a major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes, Forest Park route was assigned new number #509.
502 - Cass Street/Marquette Gardens - two route segments, primarily via Cass east of downtown Joliet, and via Glenwood west of downtown Joliet. Until around 1976 was #502 Marquette/Forest Park (Gage St.), when the two different Forest Park routes were consolidated into route #501, now the #509 Forest Park route. The Cass segment was originally a streetcar route, JCL route #2, RTA route #504, then became part of route #502 around 1976. The Marquette Gardens segment began as a bus route, JCL route #5. The route reached Jefferson Square Mall in the early 1980's, and in 1997 was extended west to Essington. Route discontinued 11/24/2008 as part of a major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes, with portions served by new route #505 West Joliet and route #508 East Joliet.
503 - Black Road-Raynor Park - one way loop route formed in 1981, primarily westbound from downtown Joliet via Black Road to Essington, and east via Ingalls (Raynor Park). This consolidated two separate routes which had previously operated both directions. Black Road route originally introduced as bus route in 1925, JCL route #6. Raynor Park route likely evolved from JCL route #7, named the Center route. In the mid 1970's, there was a #503 East Washington/Raynor Park route, and a #504 Black Road/Cass route. Around 1976 those routes became the #503 Black Road/East Washington route, and the #505 Raynor Park/Gardner route. Route #505 was renumbered #504 around 1978. Route #503 adopted when Black Road and Raynor Park routes were combined in 1981. Route discontinued 11/24/2008 as part of a major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes, with portions served by new extension of route #505 West Joliet, and a new dial-a-ride service.
504 - South Joliet - one single route on south side of Joliet, containing numerous turns and loops to maximize the points of activity served. From 1981 until 11/24/2008 primarily served locations east and west of Chicago Street (State Hwy. 53), having replaced two separate routes which had existed until around 1981. In the mid 1970's, these routes were the Gardner segment of route #505 Rockdale/Gardner, and the South Joliet segment of route #508 Lockport/South Joliet. A portion of the Gardner route had been a streetcar route, later JCL route #4. Around 1976 these routes became the #505 Raynor Park/Gardner route, and the #507 South Joliet/Crest Hill route. Routes #505 and #507 were renumbered #504 and #506 around 1978. Route #504 adopted when south side routes were combined in 1981. Effective 11/24/2008 as part of a major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes, route expanded to replace south end of old Second Avenue route. The Second Avenue route was a separate route until 1981, #506 Lidice/Second Avenue until around 1976, #508 Lockport/Second Avenue until around 1978, and #507 Lockport/Second Avenue and later #509 Second Avenue. From 1981 until 2008, Second Avenue route was part of a one way loop, having been combined into #506 Washington route, and served by eastbound #506 buses departing downtown Joliet.
505 - West Joliet Loop - loop route formed 11/24/2008 as part of a major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes, joining two separate route segments which had operated between downtown Joliet and outlying points. The segments had been known as the Lidice and the Rockdale routes, and had both been numbered #505 since around 1978. From around 1976 to 1978, both segments were numbered #506. Prior to then, segments were parts of the #505 Rockdale/Gardner, and the #506 Lidice/Second Avenue routes. The Rockdale segment was a streetcar route, later JCL route #1. Route took its final basic form in the late 1970's, when route was extended west of Moen and Midland onto McDonough. The Lidice segment includes a segment on Hickory and Broadway which was a streetcar route, later JCL route #3.
506 - East Washington - portion of route was a streetcar route, later JCL route #3. Replacement bus service eventually operated east to New Lenox. Basic route had operated both directions via Washington St. east of Joliet. Was part of #503 East Washington/Raynor Park route until around 1976, then #503 Black Road/East Washington route. Became route #506 in 1981. At that same time, eastbound routing consolidated with old Second Avenue segment, making a one way loop serving that segment on trips departing downtown Joliet. Route discontinued 11/24/2008 as part of a major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes, with portions served by new route #508 East Joliet. No replacement service was provided to New Lenox.
507 - Crest Hill - route operated on northwest side of Joliet, primarily via Raynor. Earlier, a streetcar route had operated on Wilcox, one or two blocks to the east. Bus service on Wilcox was JCL route #2. Became part of #507 South Joliet/Crest Hill route around 1976, renumbered #506 around 1978, and was discontinued by 1981.
507 - Plainfield - new route introduced 11/23/81, serving Louis Joliet Mall, the area's major mall which had opened in 1978. Prior to then, the mall had been served only by the #508 Larkin Crosstown route. From 8/29/83 to 2/21/92, certain rush hour trips operated beyond the mall to the town of Plainfield. Now Plainfield is left with no transit service.
508 - Larkin Crosstown - introduced 6/2/65 as route #509, soon renumbered #508. Operated between Hillcrest shopping center and Joliet Junior College. Effective 7/31/78, extended north to newly opened Louis Joliet Mall, and branch created to town of Shorewood. Service to Louis Joliet Mall discontinued 11/23/81 with introduction of route #507. Remainder of route discontinued 3/27/89, with Joliet Junior College served by extension of route #501, and Shorewood left with no transit service.
508 - East Joliet - introduced 11/24/2008 as part of a major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes, replacing portions of discontinued routes #502 Cass and #506 Washington.
509 - Lockport - was a streetcar route and part of Chicago & Joliet Electric interurban route, and later JCL route #1. Was part of route #508 Lockport/South Joliet until around 1976, when reconfigured as #507 Lockport/Second Avenue, and later #507 Lockport. Renumbered #509 around 1981. Was only route on east side of Des Plaines River between Joliet and Lockport until 6/19/78, when route #834 to Yorktown Mall was introduced. Route #509 became redundant to route #834, and was discontinued 11/10/90.
508-509 - Northeast Joliet/Southeast Joliet - short lived evening routes introduced 11/20/2000 serving Joliet.
509 - Forest Park - route took its present basic form around 1976 as part of route #501, after being consolidated with another route segment on Joliet's northeast side. The #501 route segment had been known as the Forest Park (Arthur Ave.) route. While the other segment had been the #502 Forest Park (Gage St.) route. The original Forest Park (Arthur Ave.) bus route was introduced during the 1920's, later JCL route #4. Shared route number with #501 West Jefferson route until 11/24/2008, when as part of a major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes, route finally assigned its own separate number #509.
510 - West Joliet Dial-A-Ride - introduced 11/24/2008, serving areas left with less fixed route service after major restructuring of Joliet Pace routes. Operated by First Transit/Joliet.
511 - Joliet-Elwood-CenterPoint - rush hour route introduced 3/8/2004, connecting Joliet with new business park at former Joliet Arsenal site.
512 - Joliet-CenterPoint - rush hour route introduced 11/21/2016, connecting Joliet with new business park at former Joliet Arsenal site.
From 5/23/81 to 8/10/81, the Joliet Mass Transit District was shut down because of the RTA funding crisis at the time, when the RTA did not have the cash to pay to keep the system operating. After resumption of service, several routes were consolidated.
Click for 1976 RTA Bus Map
Joliet City Lines routes in 1946
1 Lockport (was streetcar, to RTA #508, Pace #509, Pace #834)
1 Rockdale (was streetcar, to RTA #505, Pace #505)
2 Cass (was streetcar, to RTA #504, Pace #502, discontinued)
2 Wilcox (was streetcar, to RTA #507, discontinued)
3 Hickory (was streetcar, to RTA #506, Pace #505)
3 2nd (was streetcar, to RTA #503, Pace #506, discontinued)
4 Richard (was streetcar, to RTA #505, Pace #504)
4 Forest Park (introduced as bus route, to RTA #501, Pace #509)
5 Reed/Prairie (introduced as bus route, to RTA #502, Pace #502, discontinued)
6 Ruby (introduced as bus route, to RTA #504, Pace #503, discontinued)
7 Center (introduced as bus route, to RTA #503, Pace #502, discontinued)
8 Chemical Plant (introduced as bus route, discontinued)