A Driver Remembers
by W.R. (Bill) Worthington
Hello; I have attached a picture of a West York Bus, with
some of the drivers! The picture was taken in front of the office/dealership,
on St.Clair Avenue West! The date was June 1946! I drove these Fords
during the spring of 1946, having just got out of the RCAF! Doing the
Eileen Route, we would terminate on Keele near Dundas. Our "turnaround"
was a left turn onto Dundas, a second left turn into Heintzman Av.,
where we could turn around in their parking lot and get back out onto
Dundas! Our northbound pickup point was on Keele St., roughly across
from where we dropped off! I had lived in Mt.Dennis prior to the Air
Force and rode on the Roselands bus from Lambton Ave. down to Keele
and Dundas, fairly often!
by W. R. (Bill) Worthington
My first recollection of a Motor Bus was in the very early Thirties, when we moved into Mount Dennis! Our first house in Mt.Dennis was in a small village on the west side of town, called Roselands! The Bus Line had its western terminus in this village so they named it the Roseland Bus Line! They only owned three busses and they were made in the early Twenties! They were originally designed for inter-city travel, to compete with the railroads! How they ended up on this little commuter line, I'll never know! They were plush seated and had a large luggage rack on the rear end of the roof, with a permanent ladder used to reach it!
One 24th of May, Dad was letting off fireworks in front of our house when the Bus pulled up to take on passengers! Dad lit a sky rocket which was set in a milk bottle to launch it from and the bottle fell over just as the rocket launched and it roared sideways, into the Luggage Rack and got stuck! It sat there, busily setting fire to the roof of the bus! Dad ran with a bucket of water and climbed the ladder, while everyone watched and put out the fire! Of course on our little run from its southern terminus at Dundas St. up through Mt.Dennis, I never saw luggage on this rack! These busses had a long "Engine Hood" out front and a large sun-visor over the windshield!
The fare was 5 cents each way and was a cheap and convenient means of getting into Toronto! It saved a four to ten block walk to catch the doubled ended Trolley that I mentioned above, which charged the same fare as the bus and ended at the same terminus!
My first job after leaving the Air Force in 1946, was driving busses for the West York Coach Lines! After I had "learned the ropes", so to speak, I was assigned to drive their commuter lines which also had their southern terminus at Dundas St. (Yes the same one as the Trolley and the Roselands Bus!) These commuter lines ran out to the west end of St.Clair Avenue, then up through a residential district in West York! There were two routes needed to cover the area! The busses were mostly fairly new, flat fronted, rear engined (Ford V8) and designed for commuter work! I had two "incidents" with these vehicles! The first incident happened one evening when I was taking the "rush hour" run out to West York! These beasts had only "Air Brakes" and the air pressure was built up by a compressor, which ran by belt off the engine! Sometimes the belt slipped and you could lose pressure!
One night, I had a "standing room only" load and as I approached my first turn up into West York, at Runnymede Road, I could see a TTC bus waiting for the light, to turn the other way! As I slowly eased up behind him, I glanced at my air pressure gauge on the dashboard and it read "zero"! No amount of pushing the brake pedal helped and I hit the back of Mr. TTC! The impact bounced him into the intersection and stopped my bus! Fortunately, my passengers were so tightly packed that they just compressed up to the front and no one was even bruised! The TTC driver was rather indignant and fussed for a bit until I told what happened! I think he may have had a similar experience at some time "cause we both went on our way and I never heard another thing about it! I did report it and asked that they do something about the slipping belt!
The second incident really happened twice and was caused by driving too fast over a raised railway crossing on the route! The force of the "bump" made the bus do a dip and dive and I learned that if the dipping and diving was too severe, it broke a pivot pin on the front wheel carriage! This first time, I was told nicely by the Boss, to slow down in future because it was a nasty job replacing this pin! The second time, I was late on my "down trip" to the Dundas St. terminus and yes, I dipped and dived across the rail crossing and as soon as I'd done it I knew! This time the boss said OK, get a pair of coveralls on and get under the bus and help the mechanic replace that pin! It was a dirty rotten job! This was a good way to get me to slow down, because no matter how late I was after that, I slowly crossed that track every time!
This Coach Line also owned one of those old-timers (1920's vintage) that the Roselands people owned! It was only pressed into service when necessary and for the occasional "charter run"! My first experience with it was a charter, taking a group out in the country for a "Company Picnic! Driving this 25-year-old relic was a challenge, sitting down low looking out over that long hood, but there were no incidents to report! An incident did happen though, when I had to use it for one of my commuter runs, up and down, to and from West York! I was bringing a partial load of passengers down to the Dundas Terminus, when it "happened"! Just one block above the terminus, there was a connecting street called Vine St., entering Keele St., where we busses and trolleys ran! As I approached the end of this street, an old car made a left turn and came out right into my path! The brakes on this tired old thing were spongy and there was no way I could stop, so ka-bam, I hit him! Once again, I was going relatively slowly and while the old car was pretty well bent, the old couple in it and my passengers, were not hurt! I had to have my passengers fill out "witness" cards and they had to tow the old car away! My old bus was slightly damaged but I was able to proceed!
I also drove this "old-timer" on another assignment! This was the daily "schoolbus" run! The school was a senior public, located in Weston! The route was up and down the country roads between Weston and Malton! I picked up children from farm lanes and so it was quite a bit of distance between pickups! The kids were pretty good and I only had to stop and threaten them one time! The bus only broke down once, also! A student ran into his farmhouse and 'phoned and they sent out a replacement bus! The kids were late for school, that day! I only had this deal for two weeks, while the regular driver was on vacation!
There were no more "incidents" that I can remember and things went along smoothly, until I decided to leave the bus driving and join NCR! But that's another story, um err, Tale!
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