COBWEB CORNERS: When buses replaced streetcars
By Mel McFarland
Some of you do not like to ride the city buses. I personally do, and I have some interesting memories of the experiences. A while back I did a story about Divco trucks and the Milk Truck. It was followed by several replies which reminded me of the old buses that traveled “the Avenue.”
Colorado Springs' old streetcar system was replaced by the bus in 1932. It was not a bus like we see now. The first bus used in Colorado Springs looked more like a truck with windows. The bus could carry a dozen or so, because that was all the room they had. The last street cars used could carry about double that. Once the street cars were gone, bigger buses were needed. A dozen larger ones arrived about a year later. The new bus looked a lot like what we think of as a bus, but it was still short; it carried about 48. A few years later even bigger buses arrived, able to carry about a hundred. These were built by the White Company, which also built trucks. A few years later, more were added. This was the standard bus until after World War II. After the war, more modern buses arrived and most of the little ones were sold, or kept in reserve.
The bus company used the old street car barns between Cascade and Tejon south of Cimarron, but they did not need all the space. Most of the shops became stores, and they still are. The old bus garage was closed in the 1970s when a new one was built.
Colorado Avenue was one of the busy routes up into the 1950's. Most of the people who worked downtown rode the morning bus in and the afternoon bus home. During the day, people rode in to shop. No, there were no malls, and Old Colorado City lacked some of the places to go. like Hibbards and Sears. In the morning, the demand was so high that an extra "shuttle" (about half the size of the regular bus) picked up riders from about 25th to downtown. The regular bus either ran to Manitou or 30th street. The regular bus ran on the half hour, while the shuttle ran at 15 and 45. I always tried to ride the shuttle. School kids even rode the city bus. Main High School (now known as Palmer High School) and St. Mary's High School kids only saw each other on the bus.
The main stop was Busy Corner. All buses crossed there. Don't recognize the name? Well, how about Pikes Peak and Tejon? In those days, Tejon was a two-way street. I have a bit more to say on the bus, so tune in again next week!