Buses In Utah

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This page was last updated on June 22, 2022.

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Motor Coach Age, the magazine of the Motor Bus Society, published a four-part history in 1987-1988 of buses in Salt Lake City and other cities in northern Utah. Back issues are long out of print and unavailable, so to preserve this vital part of the history of transportation in Utah, the text of the articles is presented here:

Utah Light and Traction Co. -- 1923 to 1944 (Motor Coach Age magazine, January 1987) (also available as a PDF, with photos; 19 pages 14.5MB)

Salt Lake City Lines -- 1944 to 1970 (Motor Coach Age magazine, March 1987) (also available as a PDF, with photos; 12 pages; 7.8MB)

Regional Bus Companies, including Bamberger, Ogden, Utah-Idaho Central Railroad, Cook Transportation, Salt Lake and Utah Railroad, Utah Valley Transit, and Provo City Lines (Motor Coach Age magazine, March 1987) (also available as a PDF, with photos; 19 pages; 13.3MB)

Rosters of the buses in Utah, except UTA -- Rosters from the above three articles. (Motor Coach Age, January and March 1987)

Utah Transit Authority -- History 1970 to 1988 (Motor Coach Age magazine, October 1988) (also available as PDF, with photos; 15 pages; 26.8MB)

Utah Transit Authority -- History and timeline.

Utah Transit Authority Buses -- Roster listings of UTA buses, 1970-1987, and since 1988.

Salt Lake City's electric coaches -- An excellent article from Bus World magazine, about Salt Lake City's electric coaches, also known as trackless trolleys. (also available as a PDF, with photos; 6 pages; 3.5MB)

Union Pacific Stages Buses -- An article about the buses of Union Pacific Stages, Inc., which operated bus routes through Utah from 1927 to 1952, when the routes were sold to Overland Greyhound. (also available as a PDF, with photos; 21 pages; 13.8MB)


Photos of the electric trolley coaches from the article in Bus World, and the above Motor Coach Age articles.

Salt Lake Bus Terminal

January 15, 1949
Overland Greyhound opened its new terminal on January 15, 1949. The bus company had purchased the old interurban terminal from the Bamberger Railroad and was reported as spending $400,000 to completely remodel the interior and exterior of the building. (Deseret News, January 11, 1949)

"Beginning with the first schedules after 4 A.M. Monday, January 17, buses of the following companies will use this terminal:"

January 29, 1968
Greyhound announced that it would move its terminal from its current location at West Temple and South Temple streets, to a new location at South Temple and 200 West, occupying a new terminal building designed for the purpose. The terminal is being moved to make way for the new Salt Lake County Civic Auditorium, also known as the Salt Palace. (Deseret News, January 29, 1968)

(Ground was broken for the new Salt Palace in March 1967; the Salt Palace name was selected in a contest in March 1965.)

April 16, 1968
Greyhound held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new terminal. (Deseret News, April 13, 1968)

January 7, 1969
Greyhound formally opened its new terminal in Salt Lake City. To serve the traveling public, the facility had been in use as early as December 15, 1968, but formal completion was delayed while subcontractors finished some of the final work. (Deseret News, November 14, 1968)

Strangely, there is no newspaper news item about the terminal actually opening. I would assume that when Greyhound formally opened the new terminal, demolition of the old terminal likely started almost immediately, in February or March 1969.

The three-day ceremony for the completion of the first portion of Salt Palace, the new sports arena, started on July 12, 1969. (Deseret News, July 9, 1969) (That same sports arena was demolished beginning in December 1993.)

After being demolished in early 1969, the site of the former Salt Lake Rail and Bus Terminal became a parking lot for use by Salt Palace visitors. On March 10, 1977, ground was broken for a new Bicentennial Arts Center, to include a concert hall and a gallery for the Salt Lake Arts Center. The new concert hall was named Maurice Abravanel Hall and became the new home of the Utah Symphony. The Salt Lake Arts Center opened on May 11, 1979, and Abravanel Hall held its opening ceremony on September 14, 1979.

Utah Motor Tours

The photo shows an Aerocoach bus. As far as I can tell, they were only built in the 1944-1947, and only 1500 were built for service nationwide. I was unaware that any were in Utah. Utah Motor Tours was owned and operated by Utah Transportation Co., one of the earliest for-hire auto tour companies in Utah, dating from about 1909. Their touring cars got bigger and bigger, hauling more and more people all across and up and down the state, and finally they began using buses. They apparently quit, or were bought out in about 1950 as the big boys (Greyhound, Trailways, etc.) came into Utah. In the photo, the bus in the background is a Grayline Motor Tours bus, a direct competitor which has a story very similar to Utah Motor Tours.

(View the photo)

Eli Bail wrote on August 5, 2019.

It took a while, but I unearthed my notes on Salt Lake City Sightseeing.

Among them were the following items:

-- A number of photos of Utah Motor Tours buses downloaded from the Marriott Library digital collections, mostly White conventionals of several eras.

-- A news item from Bus Transportation September 1934 about the start of the Utah Transportation Co. to compete with the Salt Lake Transportation Co.

-- A 1940-41 list of members of the American Tourways Association which then included Utah Motor Tours as well as the Chicago Sight-Seeing Co., Colburn Motor Tours of Colorado Springs, Mac's Auto Tours of LA and several others.

-- Utah Motor Tours brochures from several eras which in addition to sightseeing also noted the availability of private cars for hire, Checker taxi service and baggage transfers as well as private guide service and a storage garage. The address given was Utah Transportation Co., 50 West South Temple, and the manager was Lyle B. Nicholes.

-- Several photos and postcards which included a Kenworth (40), four Gilligs (63,65, 67 and 68 can be discerned), a standard Aerocoach (72)

-- A downloaded 1946 photo of 15 Utah Transportation Co. buses in front of the State Capitol. The array includes the Kenworth and the four Gilligs along with at least two buses with United bodies, two conventional Whites including 34 and two Chevrolet conventionals. The photo is credited to Shipler Commercial Photographers.

-- Reported in Bus Transportation July-August 1937 was delivery of two White 706's — the photo of 34 is a good bet to be one of these.

-- Upon further review, 40 appears to be an older Gillig, not a Kenworth.

-- A Utah Transportation Co. ad features a photo of a Packard ambulance; call 2737 for service.

-- A separate note indicates that another part of the enterprise was the Hill Field Bus Co.

-- An advertising card (undated, but perhaps the 1950's?) shows what appears to be a glass-top Aerocoach, lists the address as 59 West South Temple, the phone number as 4-8438, advertises membership in the American Sightseeing Association and lists the Alta-Brighton Bus Line; Lyle B. Nicholes is president and general manager.

By the way, Aerocoaches weren't particularly rare in their day — at lest 3,000 were turned out between 1934 and 1952.

Salt Lake Terminal Expands, 1949

The Deseret News -- January 11, 1949

Overland Greyhound Bus Station Ceremonies Set

Salt Lake City's newest transportation facility, the new bus travel center at South Temple and West Temple Streets, will be formally opened for public inspection Saturday, Jan. 15, from 11 a m. to 8 p.m., it was announced by R. E Shalamter, district manager of the Overland Greyhound Line.

The new bus terminal, one of the most ultra modern in the West, represents a $400,000 improvement, including purchase a the old interurban terminal building from the Bomberger Railroad Company and a complete remodeling program. Russell J. Walsh. Omaha, president of the Overland Greyhound Lines, a Union Pacific subsidiary, will formally present the new travel center at 2:15 p.m. to Mayor Earl J. Glade. Other participants will include Pres. George Albert Smith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; W. P Dunn, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and Gus P. Backman, executive secretary of the Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to the Overland Greyhound Lines, owner and operator of the terminal, the travel center will be used by the Pacific Greyhound Lines, the Bamberger Railroad Company, Salt Lake-Tooele Stages, Gray Line Motor Tours, Lewis Brothers Stages, Santa Fe Trailways, and Salt Lake-Coalville Stage Line.

Schedules of these companies provide 100 arrivals and 100 departures every day with an estimated annual passenger arrival or departure of between 750,000 and 1,000,000 persons. Overland Greyhound Lines serve 17 western states from Chicago westward through Salt Lake City to Los Angeles and to the Pacific Northwest at Portland, while the Pacific Greyhound Lines serve the territory westward from Salt Lake City to San Francisco sad the Pacific coast.

The remodeling program and new construction has been completed by the Jacobsen Construction Company, and Ashton, Evans and Brazier were the architects. The entire building has been completely modernized both exterior and interior. The building has a frontage of 184 feet on South Temple Street and 178 feet on West Temple Street, with adjacent property extending 330 feet on South Temple Street, or half a city block, and 197 feet on West Temple Street, including trackage for right-of-way to First West Street.

The terminal which is diagonally across the street from Temple Square, the mecca for millions of visitors, occupies the site of the home of Wilford Woodruff, a former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was built in the late fifties or early sixties and was later remodeled into the Valley House, a pioneer hostelry of historic interest. The Valley House was torn down in 1916 and the site was used by the Bamberger Railroad Company as depot facilities until the construction of the present building in 1923.

The Overland Greyhound Lines officers to attend the formal opening and open house in addition to Mr. Walsh, president, will Include G .E. Motz, general manager, and R. J. O'Connor, general traffic manager, both of Omaha. During the open house flowers will be presented to women visitors and brochures describing the building will also be presented.

In addition to the bus traneportation lines the building will be occupied by a number of business firms including the Bigelow Sandford Carpet Company, Bamberger Railroad Company's executive, traffic and operating office, the Cedar Richfield and Wyoming Distributing Company, Herman and Tannenbaum, Associated Specialties Company, Deseret Livestock Company, F. N. Ellis, contractor, and W. W. Gardner, contractor. The medical center of the Union Pacific Railroad Employes Hospital Association has also been established on the second floor for the exclusive service of Union Pacific and Overland Greyhound employes.

The main floor space will be occupied by the Greyhound Post House, national restaurant chain which will operate the terminal restaurant, seating 100 at counter, tables and booths. Other main floor businesses will include the O. W. Memmott barber shop, the Interurban Drug Company, and a news stand. The basement is occupied by the Gottschall Printing Company with warehouse space leased to a Salt Lake City newspaper.