Let’s ride the bus

By Joan Baxter

Today the Greene Cats transportation service provides comfortable transportation all over Greene County. Though the system was established in recent years, bus transportation in and around Xenia is not new.

As early as 1915, transportation between Wilmington and Xenia by means other than rail was proposed.

This is a quote from the Journal-Republican Wilmington Weekly Feb. 24, 1915: “Our friend Doctor Patterson, writes us interestingly about the jitney car – a word and a vehicle which are both new. We do not know how much of a demand there might be for jitney service to Xenia, but it is quite possible that two or three jitneys, making regular rounds, would pick up many fares. And there is that old project of service between Wilmington and Xenia which somebody tackles one in a while. Regular daily service, sufficiently advertised to be known to all traveling men, and not too expensive, would meet a public need. It would require a little nerve and a little capital, but is could be made to go after awhile.”

The idea seemed to be a good one because on April 28, an ad appeared in the same newspaper with the following: “Motor Bus Line between Wilmington and Xenia. Having purchased a new five-passenger Oakland car, I will operate a motor bus line between Wilmington ad Xenia, beginning April 15. Two trips will be made each day on the following schedule: Forenoon. Leave Wilmington 7, arrive Xenia 8; Leave Xenia 10, arrive Wilmington 11.

Afternoon hours included leaving Wilmington at 1, arrive Xenia at 2 then the return trip left Xenia at 5 arriving at Wilmington at 6. The price was 50 cents for a single trip or $ for round trip.” The proprietor lists his name as M. E. Semans at Oakland Garage. His phone number was 111.

Apparently all went well for a while, but the Xenia Gazette reported an accident on Nov. 23, 1915 involving the jitney owned by Semans and another jitney company owned by the Deeter Brothers. It seems that the Deeter vehicle ran into the back of the Semans car near the O.S.S & O Home. Semans preferred charges, saying the wreck was deliberate, while Deeter maintained it was truly accidental. Semans claimed that the Deeter brothers had said they would put him out of business, and that they had attempted to succeed by running into his vehicle at a narrow place near the Home. The Deeter car was more seriously damaged and unable to make the return trip to Wilmington.

Eventually, the jitney disappeared from service (and from memory).

For a few years, the King Bros. bus line operated between Xenia and Cincinnati. In 1947, the Cincinnati Street Railway Company purchased the business which also provided bus transportation between Cincinnati, Dayton, Franklin, Lebanon, Portsmouth and Xenia.

Cecil Huston and Roscoe Fudge bought the Xenia City Bus Line in 1935. At that time the service was from downtown to the OSSO Home, back downtown and then to the east corporation limits. There was also service for those working at Hooven and Allison. They operated the business for a few years then sold it to Ralph Root. When the business was sold, Cecil managed the Farm Bureau and Roscoe Fudge joined the Army and was killed during World War II.

In April 1949 it was reported that the “most extensive intra-city bus transportation ever offered in Xenia will become a reality Sunday April 10.” Six routes were established. Service was available until 10 p.m. Sundays, the first run began at noon, ending at 10:20 p.m.

Fare was 10 cents with transfers available for 5 cents. There was no charge for babes in arms. Transportation directly from downtown to the new hospital was maintained with a ride of about eight minutes.

This story is told about the early days of Mr. Root’s bus transportation business.

“A mother put her two little girls on the bus for a ride to the Doctor’s office. The driver promised to look after the girls. ‘Mommy says we have to ride the bus to make sure it continues’. The line is not yet paying its way, but at the end of 30 days surely it will. Mr. Root isn’t content to only drive a bus – he is having schedule cards printed for distribution and may embark on a house-to-house canvass to introduce himself and his operation. He is thinking about a “kiddies” excursion day as a way of babysitting youngsters on rounds of the city, extending good will to parents a hoping the kids will do some good on advertising.” The article about the new bus line was published in 1949. Eventually the service was extended to operate “express” non-stop service between Xenia and Dayton.”

Another privately operated bus company was the Wilbur Dahmer Company, providing not only service between Wilberforce and Xenia but also charter service.

Following the April 3, 1974 tornado, service was established to help folks get around town. At first, full size buses were used, but because of some narrow streets proved to be too large. A transportation grant was received and the “X-Line” was established. The busses were smaller, with transportation provided around town and also to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University.

This was especially helpful for students who desired to study on their way to and from school and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees could read the newspaper on the way. The Transit operated a few years until February 1981.

Today, the courteous Greene Cats drivers will provide service to your destination.


By Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is a local resident and weekly historical columnist.

Joan Baxter is a local resident and weekly historical columnist.