The Railroads in Patterson - Part 3

The Maybrook Line is Replaced by Bus Service

With improved rail service to New York on the New York Central, and with the continuing financial cloudiness over the New Haven, passenger service began to wane on the Maybrook Line in the 1920s. Freight service was the money maker, and passenger runs were reduced. Complaints about the frequency, reliability, and convenience of the rail service, along with the increasing popularity and cost effectiveness of the automobile engine, resulted in creation of an alternative form of mass transit: the automobile bus.

Bus service was established between Patterson and Poughkeepsie in 1924 and proved popular. The route was intended to continue south from Patterson into Brewster, and for a while it did, but the Patterson-Brewster portion of the route was discontinued when the bus company was unable to secure a franchise agreement with the town of Southeast. The Sound Bus Service was owned by (Henry) Ballard & (Charles W.) McCormack of Patterson, and provided service that followed the Maybrook rails and serviced the same towns served by the New Haven. By November, 1924, the Railroad began to oppose the competing bus service. A hearing was held in Poughkeepsie by the New York State Public Service Commission. Several area users of the Sound Bus Service testified in support of the service.

The schedule for the Sound Bus Service, as it appeared in The Putnam County Courier on July 11, 1924. The schedule for the Sound Bus Service, as it appeared in The Putnam County Courier on March 6, 1925.

Not to be outdone, the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Co. organized the New England Transportation Co. in 1925. In September, 1925, the new company applied to the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) for permission to operate a bus line between Brewster and Poughkeepsie. The route was suspiciously similar to the route of the Sound Bus Service, and also generally followed the route of the Maybrook tracks. The exception was in Putnam County. The New England Transportation Co. proposed to provide service from Patterson south to Carmel, and then east to Brewster. The bus was to service Patterson in West Patterson, but, unlike the train, would bypass Towners, making the next stop Carmel. The company stated that it would not provide local service to passengers traveling solely between Carmel and Brewster. New England Transportation intended the route to continue to Danbury, Connecticut. Its application stated that the route would be serviced by two deluxe motor coaches daily, each capable of carrying 25 passengers. No freight would be carried. Freight was the domain of the railroad. Danbury departures would be at 8:30 AM and 2:30 PM, with arrivals in Poughkeepsie at 11:30 AM and 5:30 PM. Poughkeepsie departures would be at 11:30 AM and 5:30 PM with arrivals in Danbury at 1:20 PM and 7:20 PM.

In its filing with the PSC, the New England indicated that the service was intended to replace passenger service on trains #934, 939, 948, and 949, operated by the Central New England Railroad Co., and other train runs that would in the future be deemed unprofitable and elligible for elimination. The application stated that the bus service was being established to protect the business interests of the New Haven and the New England Railroads in the passenger transportation market in the states of New York and Connecticut. The New Haven and CNE Railroads were both in bankruptcy, and eager to eliminate an unprofitable local passenger service. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Co. owned 85,250 shares of the 85,500 outstanding shares of Central New England Railroad stock, which was operating the passenger rail service over the Maybrook tracks.

These deluxe motor coaches, as shown in the October 23, 1925 edition of the Putnam County Courier, were to be utilized by the new New England Transportation Co. bus route between Poughkeepsie and Danbury. The coaches seated about 30 passengers, and were described as well heated and well ventilated, utilizing the latest in bus design. Former Senator James E. Towner of Towners spoke in favor of Sound Bus at a public hearing in Poughkeepsie. In 1926, Towner was president of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. Blue Coach Lines began its bus service in August, 1929.

Ballard & McCormack's Sound Bus Service was determined not to lose business to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Co. and barely one week after the filing of the New England Transportation Co., Charles W. McCormack petitioned Danbury for a Sound Bus franchise to run a "jitney" service from Patterson to Danbury. Unable to get a franchise to service the Village of Brewster, the service would travel from the Patterson hamlet to the "state road" (NYS Route 22), and then turn east on the road now known as Haviland Hollow Road, and then travel through New Fairfield, Connecticut on the "state road to Danbury", now known as CT Route 37. In Patterson, the route would connect with the existing Sound Bus route from Patterson to Poughkeepsie. The jitney was a twenty seat bus manufactured by the REO automotive company.

Reaction to the New England Transportation Co. proposal came swiftly. By the end of September, 1925, the Town Boards of Patterson and Pawling passed resolutions against the New England proposal and in support of the Sound Bus Service to provide exclusive bus service. Similar opposition was growing in the Towns of Poughkeepsie and Beekman. The Patterson and Pawling resolutions cited the "adequate and satisfactory" service provided by the Sound Bus Service, and stated that a duplicate service was unnecessary. The resolution also chided the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad for having sufficient trackage to provide adequate passenger service on the Maybrook rail line, and not needing to add bus service to provide acceptable levels of passenger service. The train service combined with a bus franchise would give the Railroad an unfair competitive advantage over the Sound Bus Service, according to the resolution.

Convenient bus service to Poughkeepsie is a selling point for this Patterson real estate ad appearing in the April 16, 1926 edition of the Putnam County Courier. In June, 1955, the Green Haven Bus Co. was awarded the franchise previously held by the Flying Eagle Whiteway Bus Lines to operate bus service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City to Sylvan Lake in Dutchess County. The first stop on the route was Carmel, and there was no local service between West Pawling and Sylvan Lake. The route passed through Patterson on NYS Routes 311 and 292, with a stop in nearby Holmes. The ad appeared in the June 16, 1955 edition of the Putnam County Courier.

But not all reaction to the New England Transportation Co. filing was negative. In early October, 1925, the Board of Alderman of the City of Poughkeepsie held a public hearing on the proposal, and then voted to allow the New England Transportation Co. to operate its bus route from Poughkeepsie to Carmel - or at least to allow it to operate the bus within Poughkeepsie city limits. Many Putnam and Dutchess residents spoke at the hearing in favor of Sound Bus and against the New England Transportation Co. John E. Mack, representing Ballard & McCormack, stated that there was not enough demand for to competing bus lines to operate profitably. He predicted that Sound Bus would collapse, unable to compete with the giant corporate empire of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Co. He predicted that the bus service would draw business to the cities of Poughkeepsie and Danbury, and away from the smaller towns along its route. Mack stated that the only reason Sound Bus was formed was to meet the growing complaints from Patterson and Pawling residents over the poor train service. Former Senator James E. Towner of Towners, Patterson Town Clerk William Taylor, Beverly Ballard, and Henry Ballard were among the local residents to speak in favor of Sound Bus at the hearing. The matter still needed to be decided by the New York State Public Service Commission.

Bus service continued for a while, and passenger rail service was terminated in 1927. In the fall of 1958, another bus company began service along part of the Maybrook Line, connecting New York City to Stormville Airport. Arrow Bus Lines was operated by the R & H Company, Inc., and provided service to the Greyhound Bus Terminal on 50th Street in New York City. Passenger and freight service was provided, with one daily round trip that took over three hours for the whole route. Patterson was serviced along NYS Route 311. All stops north of Armonk were flag stops, meaning that the bus driver would stop whenever signaled to do so by a waiting passenger.

The Arrow Bus Line schedule appeared in the October 16, 1958 edition of the Putnam County Courier.

In the late 1950s, bus service between Poughkeepsie and Danbury, Connecticut, was provided Empire Bus Lines, Inc. Empire provided weekly service on Thursdays, traveling through Patterson and circling Putnam Lake, reaching the Lake at approximately 10 AM, and making a return trip from Danbury that reached Putnam Lake at 2 PM. On February 16, 1959, Empire received permission to provide daily service through Patterson and into Putnam Lake. The bus from Poughkeepsie would travel along NYS Route 22 and turn left onto Haviland Hollow Road, turn right onto East Branch Road to Haviland Drive to the Servicemen's Monument, arriving at approximately 10:15 AM. From there, the bus would travel Fairfield Drive to Ball Pond, and then continue to the Danbury Bus Depot on Main Street. The return trip would reach Putnam Lake at 4 PM.

The increasing popularity of the automobile led to the decline in the demand for public transportation between Poughkeepsie and Danbury, and today there is no public transportation available that follows the route of the Maybrook Line.

Next: The Controversy over the Grade Crossings in Patterson
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