In 1922, the city took over the streetcar operations within Detroit. But Detroit United Railway continued to operate its interurban trains into downtown Detroit over city streetcar trackage, for a fee.
In 1928, Detroit United Railway was sold to Eastern Michigan Railways. And in 1934, the last interurban railway line was replaced with buses. Various bus companies served Detroit's suburbs until the early 1970's, when they were taken over by the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA). SEMTA was approved by the state of Michigan in 1967. In 1989, SEMTA was reorganized and became SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation).
These interurban railway lines, and the bus lines which replaced them, enabled people from outlying areas to travel in and out of downtown Detroit. But with the decline of downtown Detroit, along with the evolution of the suburban areas to an automobile culture, such travel is now less significant. These main bus routes continue to exist under SMART, but now instead carry more city residents to and from suburban jobs and shopping destinations.
Great Lakes Transit
The only transit operation to trace its history directly back to the Detroit United Railway, which had previously operated all electric railways in Detroit and southeastern Michigan. In 1928, Detroit United Railway reorganized as Eastern Michigan Railways, with Eastern Michigan Motorbuses as its bus subsidiary. In 1941, Eastern Michigan Motorbuses became Great Lakes Greyhound Lines, part of the nationwide bus system. In 1958, Greyhound sold the Detroit suburban bus operation to American Transit Corp., renaming the operation Great Lakes Transit Corp. SEMTA acquired Great Lakes Transit in 1974.
Lake Shore Coach Lines
Evolved from the Detroit Motorbus Co. suburban operations east of Detroit. Detroit Motorbus Co. began operating in 1920, in competition with the electric railways in Detroit and suburbs. In 1932, after the city Department of Street Railways took over the bus operations within Detroit, Lake Shore Coach Lines was formed to operate the east suburban routes. SEMTA acquired Lake Shore Coach Lines in 1971.
Evolved from the Detroit Motorbus Co. suburban operations west of Detroit. Detroit Motorbus Co. began operating in 1920, in competition with the electric railways in Detroit and suburbs. In 1932, after the city Department of Street Railways took over the bus operations within Detroit, Dearborn Coach Co. was formed to operate the west suburban routes. Dearborn Coach Co. became Intertown Suburban Lines in 1950, which became a subsidiary of American Transit Corp. in 1960, and renamed Metropolitan Transit in 1962. SEMTA acquired Metropolitan Transit in 1974.
The smallest of the four suburban bus companies to be acquired by SEMTA. The Martin Brothers had originally operated between Highland Park and Royal Oak beginning the early 1920's, using a converted truck. But the operation was bought out in 1927 by Detroit United Railway. But the Martin Brothers wanted to get back into the bus business, so they then organized as Martin Lines. Two routes operated north of Highland Park through Royal Oak. SEMTA acquired Martin Lines in 1975.
ADDITIONAL EARLY BUS COMPANIES
Some private predecessor companies had earlier acquired various smaller bus companies.