The company originated as the streetcar operations of Connecticut Light & Power Company, but the separate name of Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company was adopted for those operations in 1901.
The company also operated some intercity operations, such as Bridgeport-New Haven, coordinated with The Connecticut Company (ConnCo), exchanging transfers with the latter's routes in cities where ConnCo provided local service.
During the period from 1906 to 1920, the company gradually leased out its routes to ConnCo, but in 1936 CR&L resumed operation of those lines when ConnCo failed to make payments on the leases. By 1937, nearly all trolleys were replaced by buses. CR & L's bus color scheme was predominantly green.
Its operations in Norwalk ended in 1970; the rest of the system ceased to operate in November, 1972. Operations were replaced by service provided by Connecticut Transit in New Britain, Meriden, and Waterbury, Norwalk Transit District (more than ten years later), and Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (1975).
The largest of CR & L Lines' bus operations was in greater Bridgeport, Connecticut. Prior to its permanent shutdown in November 1972, it was the largest of several public bus companies serving the Bridgeport area (Between 1906-1936, it was a branch operation of The Connecticut Company). However, it did not have a cooperative arrangement with its "non-competitors" (all bus routes had their own service territory, generally), as it would not accept transfers from any of them. However, they did exchange transfers with regional bus lines (Chieppo Bus Co., defunct: ran infrequently between Bridgeport and Danbury via Trumbull, Western Monroe/Stepney, Newtown, and Bethel; Valley Transportation Co., defunct: ran infrequent service between Bridgeport and Waterbury via s.e. Trumbull/Nichols, Shelton, Derby, Ansonia, Seymour, Beacon Falls, and Naugatuck; transfers were also exchanged with The Connecticut Co. (now Connecticut Transit), from regional bus routes CR&L ran to Norwalk, Milford, and New Haven from Bridgeport).
Prior to 1971, the year CR&L began reducing service and even eliminating some low-performing bus routes (#7 PATTERSON AVE./Stratford, via Barnum Ave.; #4 Ansonia - Derby via State Road 110 in Shelton and Stratford, as examples recalled), CR & L ran buses to about 66% of the city, as well as to Fairfield, Westport, Norwalk, Easton, Stratford, Shelton, Derby, Ansonia, Milford, Orange, West Haven, and New Haven. Most of its routes throughout the city and into Fairfield and Stratford ran frequently (as often as every 15 minutes along Main Street, E. Main, mid-section of Park Ave., Fairfield Ave., State St., Boston Ave., Stratford Ave., and Conn. Ave.). Main St. and Fairfield Ave. in Downtown Bridgeport was the core transfer point for all CR & L bus routes, with the odd exception of two routes that terminated 2 blocks east, at the former site of the city's railroad depot: #13 SEAVIEW AVE. and #15 NEW HAVEN; these particular buses did not extend into the heart of downtown Bridgeport, forcing many to walk 2 blocks to make transfers. Passengers needing to reach certain areas of Bridgeport and its suburbs that were not served by CR & L had to walk 1-3 blocks average to connect with a competing bus line that did not accept transfers from CR & L (see explanation in next paragraph).
As for Bridgeport's other bus lines that did not have a cooperative relationship with CR & L Lines, these smaller companies somewhat filled the gaps in service to areas in the city and its immediate suburbs that were not served by CR & L Lines. They all exchanged transfers, but would not do so with any of the regional carriers that cooperated with CR & L. Also, their main transfer point in Downtown Bridgeport was at the former intercity bus terminal on John St. across from the oddly-named street called "Plaza," which was actually Middle Street, one block parallel to Main Street. Main St. was exclusively for CR & L (also shared by Chieppo Bus to Danbury and Valley Transportation to Waterbury, both of which departed from the bus terminal), while Middle St. and the bus terminal were dominated by all the others. However, John and State Streets were shared by both CR & L and its competing bus lines. All north/southbound buses did not even use the northern downtown sector of Main St. between Congress St. and E. Washington Ave., instead- traveling via Housatonic Ave.
Bus companies (now all defunct), that operated uncooperatively, yet non-competitively alongside CR&L Lines, included:
- Gray Line Bus Co.
- Chestnut Hill Bus Corp.
- Bridgeport Auto Transit Co.
- Stratford Bus Line Inc.
- Trumbull Coach Lines (information requested)
- White Lines, Inc. (information requested)
- Intercity Bus Co. (information requested)
As noted above, regional local/express bus lines that served Bridgeport included Chieppo Bus Co. of New Haven, Connecticut (served Bridgeport-Danbury corridor), and Valley Transportation Company of Oxford (served Bridgeport-Waterbury corridor). These bus lines ceased operations of their routes during the mid-late 1970s. A summer-only express bus also ran between Bridgeport's bus terminal and Playland Amusement Park in Rye Beach, NY by Cross Country Coach, Inc. (defunct) of Milford, Connecticut.
***For a photo gallery of actual and identical buses and trolleys that served the Bridgeport region, please click on 'PHOTOS just above the title caption of this article (provided by Ted Elliss - shared from public archives).CR & L Lines had the following bus routes operating shortly before its demise in November 1972:
#1 - TUNXIS HILL/MAIN & FAIRFIELD (via Fairfield Ave., State St., Howard Ave., North Ave. into Fairfield- Tunxis Hill Cutoff, Knapps Hwy., Black Rock Tpk., Stillson Rd.); this route ran every 20 minutes, and terminated at the northern end of North Benson Rd.- having offered close access (via a 5-min. walk) to both Fairfield Preparatory School and Fairfield University.
#5 - DEVON or MILFORD/BRIDGEPORT or LAFAYETTE ST. or BLACK ROCK (only limited service west to Black Rock, which ran out Fairfield Ave. to Gilman St., occasionally extending to Riverside Dr.- which paralleled Post Rd. in Fairfield; also ran limited service south of downtown via Lafayette Blvd. into Lafayette St. toward University Of Bridgeport; on the eastern end, limited service ran onto Rivercliff Dr. or just east of Naugatuck Ave. via US RT. 1 in the Devon section of Milford; the main trunk of this route was from Bridgeport via Crescent Ave., Noble Ave., Barnum Ave. into Stratford's Main St., East Broadway, Ferry Blvd./US RT. 1 into Milford/Devon, via Naugatuck Ave. and branching off along various streets along the west shore before reaching Milford Center's Broad St., looping via Gulf St., W. River St. in returning to Bridgeport; this route ran as often as every 30 minutes, and shared bus stops along Barnum Ave. with a competing bus line- Bridgeport Auto Transit's BARNUM-STATE route.
#6 - NOBLE-SOUTH PARK (lower Park Ave., through downtown, East Washington Ave., Noble Ave. to Beardsley Park at Edna Ave.), every 20 min. Also of note: Valley Transportation's Waterbury bus service operated along Noble Ave. as an express- boarding passengers outbound, while only discharging passengers inbound- although transfers were exchanged with CR & L routes where intersected.
#8 - MAIN ST. (between Seaside Park and Thorme St. only; Gray Line Bus had upper Main St.'s territory- and at only 50-60 min. intervals, while #8 ran every 15 min.) Also of note: Chieppo Bus Co.'s DANBURY service ran as an express along Main St. south of Thorme St., but did share local bus stops further north with Gray Line- and exchanged transfers with intersecting CR & L routes (an advantage for bus riders along northern Main St. who could actually travel to other areas served by CR & L without paying a separate fare- but only at certain times of the day).
#9 - EAST MAIN ST./STRATFIELD or NORTH PARK AVE. (2 branches on both ends, main trunk of route was via Park Ave. from North Ave. to State St., then to Lafayette Blvd., Fairfield Ave., Stratford Ave., East Main St., Boston Ave., Palisade Ave., Granfield Ave.; eastern branches to either Pearl Harbor St., loop via Success Ave. back to Granfield Ave. - or Granfield Ave. into Stratford: Canaan Rd., Henry Ave., Stonybrook Rd., Broadbridge Ave. to Kenyon St.; western branches ran either down North Ave. from Park Ave. to Brooklawn Ave., then north into Fairfield: Stratfield Rd. to Sport Hill Rd. at the golf course - or continiung further up Park Ave. to Capitol Ave. The main trunk route ran at 15 min. intervals, while branches ran every 30 min.). Also of note: Gray Line's McKESSON-PLAZA route operated as an express along Park Ave.
#10 - NORTH BRIDGEPORT (not a good destination sign, since this route actually goes to the Nob Hill section in the northeast portion of Bridgeport): starts out actually heading west from Main St. via John St. (return via State St.) to Park Ave. into Washington Ave. back to Main St. northbound to North Ave. into Boston Ave., East Main St., Huntington Tpk., Broadbridge Ave. to Greystone Rd.; this route ran every 30 min. Also of note: the Gray Line's TRUMBULL Via E. MAIN ST. route actually shared bus stops along upper East Main St. with CR & L. Additionally, Valley Transportation's WATERBURY service operated express along Huntington Turnpike- only boarding passengers outbound, and discharging passengers inbound.
#11 - NORWALK/BRIDGEPORT (hourly service via Fairfield Ave., State St., Post Rd./US RT. 1 through Fairfield, Westport, into Norwalk). This route gave people an advantage, as it supplemented local service along Fairfield Ave. and State St. This also supplemented local bus service in Norwalk along the eastern US RT. 1 corridor up until 1970- when CR & L's Norwalk Division service ended operations.
#13 - SEAVIEW AVE. (from the old railroad sta. at Water St. and Fairfield Ave., onto Stratford Ave. to Seaview Ave. south to edge of footbridge to Pleasure Beach at Central Ave.; this bus ran every 30 min. averaging 10 passengers most trips.)
#14 - FAIRFIELD/STRATFORD (Fairfield Center: from No. Pine Creek Rd. via Post Rd./US RT. 1 into Bridgeport via Fairfield Ave., State St., Lafayette Blvd., Stratford Ave. eastbound, Conn. Ave. westbound, into Stratford: Main St. north to East Main St., returning via Reed St.; every 15 minutes). Also of note: bus stops along Fairfield Ave. and State St. between downtown and Hancock Ave. were actually shared with Bridgeport Auto Transit Co.'s BARNUM-STATE route. In addition, Gray Line's LORDSHIP-PLAZA route had to run express along Stratford and Connecticut Avenues to Hollister Ave., only having been allowed to board passengers outbound and discharge passengers inbound.
#15 - NEW HAVEN/BRIDGEPORT (from the old Bridgeport Railroad Sta. on Water St.: via Stratford Ave., Conn. Ave. (westbound), into Stratford via Stratford Ave., Main St., East Broadway, Ferry Blvd. into Milford via US RT. 1- detouring along Bridgeport Ave., Broad St., Daniel St., W. River St., and Cherry St. into US RT.1/Boston Post Rd. through Orange into West Haven via Orange Ave./US RT.1 into New Haven- making local stops along Davenport Ave. toward Downtown New Haven; ran every hour.) This bus was theoretically an express between downtown and East Broadway in Stratford, but did make local stops as a supplement to #14. Also of note: numerous people from both Bridgeport and New Haven relied on this sole provider of bus service to what was then The Connecticut Post Shopping Center in Milford- now known as CT Post Mall.
Some other routes are recalled, having been eliminated by 1971, such as #7 - PATTERSON AVE., #18 - MELVILLE AVE., #22 STONYBROOK, #4 - ANSONIA-DERBY-SHELTON, #??? EASTON; there were likely some other bus routes that once existed. If any of you remember or have any documentation regarding Bridgeport's transit history, please add your information to this, thank you. (Ted Elliss)
Bridgeport Area Bus Operations After 1972 and The Demise Of CR & L LinesEdit
It was recorded in 1970 that more than 25,000 people on average rode buses in the Greater Bridgeport region. Following the shut-down of CR & L bus operations throughout Connecticut in November 1972, much of Bridgeport's sectors and suburban areas were without bus service. Meanwhile, there would be a sudden huge increase in ridership on all bus routes operated by then-existing smaller bus companies. Several weeks passed before these companies were permitted to provide at least partial service along former CR & L routes- identified by small flags erected at the top front ends of buses, with large hand-wriiten cardboard signs displayed at the buses' front windows identifying their destinations. As each of these smaller bus companies had few extra buses to spare, service to certain areas of Bridgeport, Stratford, and Fairfield had only hourly service (or longer), while other areas saw no replacement service at all. CR & L's former routes were covered fully or partially in the following manner (identified by CR & L's former route number): By 1974, The Connecticut Department Of Transportation had purchased a large number of long 51-seat 'new look' (a.k.a 'fishbowl' buses - for their very large rounded front windows) with a predominant blue scheme. Though the majority of these buses were earmarked for Connecticut Company's (later re-named CT Transit) transit divisions, the remaining vehicles were distributed among the other local bus operations statewide - with 15 of them given to Bridgeport's operators under a lease agreement. These buses were eventually repainted to reflect their company's color schemes (More details below).
Gray Line Bus Co. (which was the apparent successor to the former Danbury-based White Lines Bus Co.'s Bridgeport operations) first operated along William Street before returning to Noble Ave. after strong protests and difficulty navigating the bus along a somewhat narrow William Street (#6); Main St. (#8), East Main St. (cosolidated with its TRUMBULL via EAST MAIN ST.limited-service route)- combining parts of (#9) and (#10) to Huntington Tpk. via East Main St. (with some trips extended into Trumbull via Broadbridge Rd.- White Plains Rd.- Church Hill Rd. to Edison Rd.), no longer via North Ave./Boston Ave.; Its GE-SEASIDE PARK route extended from Dinan Hospital on Bond St. to cover (#9) via the northern end of Palisade Ave., Granfield Ave., Pearl Harbor St., and Success Ave.- with the southern side of Palisade Ave. not regaining service. Its McKESSON-PLAZA route became a lloop service in Fairfield to partially cover (#1) and (#9), extending from Kings Highway East via Black Rock Tpk., Stillson Rd. (no longer west toward No. Benson Rd.), Fairfield Woods Rd., then south on Stratfield Rd. Villa Ave., and Brooklawn/Clinton Avenues to North Ave.- resuming its original route. Its LORDSHIP-PLAZA route did not change, but did begin making local stops along Stratford/Connecticut Avenues as far east as Hollister Ave. Eventually, Its OX HILL-PLAZA route was to be re-directed away from Madison Ave., Wayne St., and Savoy St. tp provide direct service entirely along Main St. between Seaside Park and Trumbull Shopping Park (now an expansive Westfield Trumbull Mall). Older buses bore a predominantly grey scheme, with later fishbowl buses being entirely white with a thin grey horizontal stripe across its center.
Chestnut Hill Bus Corp. re-routed its TRUMBULL SHOPPING PARK via PARK AVE. line away from Madison Ave. to run entirely via Park Ave. between Seaside Park- via loop through downtown via John/State Streets- and Old Town Rd./Madison Ave. at Trumbull Shopping Park. Bus scheme was yellow-gold.
Bridgeport Auto Transit Co. took over virtually the entire (#14) route between Fairfield and Stratford via Post Rd./Fairfield Ave./State St., Sratford/Connecticut Avenues, and Stratford's Main St. as far north as Paradise Green and Mill River Country Club- returning via E. Main- Reed- Wakelee. Eventually, Stratford Bus Line, Inc. would take over the Stratford - Bridgeport portion of this route. Bus scheme was dark (red) orange.
Stratford Bus Line, Inc., primarily a charter and school bus operator- historically having operated only one local bus route: HUNTINGTON ROAD. did not immediately provide coverage at the same time as its sister Bridgeport bus companies did, yet eventually agreed to take over the eastern segment of (#14) between downtown and Stratford via Connecticut/Stratford Avenues and Stratford's Main St. from Bridgeport Auto Transit Co. Bus scheme was medium blue.
Chieppo Bus Co. did not make any changes on its DANBURY - BRIDGEPORT service, other than making local stops entirely within Bridgeport via Main St. This was also the case for Valley Transportation, whose WATERBURY - BRIDGEPORT line remianed without changes- other than making local stops entirely within Bridgeport, and with both carriers agreeing to exchange transfers with the Bridgeport bus compaanies. Bus scheme was almost identical to that displayed by Bpt. Auto Transit Co.: dark gold-orange.
It was also at this time that two former CR & L suburban routes were not to be initially restored: (#11 - Norwalk) and (#15 - New Haven). Then in 1973, Cross Country Coach acquired the rights to begin bus service between New Haven and Norwalk- though was not allowed to make local stops within Bridgeport (other than boardings outbound, discharges inbound). This company was generally a charter bus operation, using some older General Motors buses purchased from CR & L Lines, and at times- a coach bus or school bus when those buses were out of service. Transfers were also exchanged with Bridgeport's service providers, CT Transit's Norwalk-Stamford line, and CT Transit in Milford, New Haven.
It would not be until 1974 when The Connecticut Department Of Transportation decided to fund new bus upgrades for the former 'Connecticut Company' bus operations statewide (about to be re-named as 'Connecticut Transit'), along with leasing some new buses to other transit operations- including those serving the Bridgeport area. These buses were the 'New Look - Fishbowl' models (in use since the early 1960s throughout the country and Canada- including many 44-seat standards in Bridgeport), but were extended 51-seat models- a first for transit use in Greater Bridgeport. Each of the bus companiies providing local Bridgeport service gained at least one of these buses (15 total), with no immediate changes to current bus routes and schedules. Finally, with the help of mostly federal funding, planning and implementation of The Greater Bridgeport Transit District (GBTD) would take shape. By 1975, all bus companies- Gray Line, Chestnut Hill, Bridgeport Auto Transit, Stratford Bus Line (its local routes only) would be dissolved, with its buses then operating under GBTD (aka The People Mover). In the years that followed, there would be many changes- positive and negative, affected by changing demographics and economics- both having a major impact on public bus services. Area unemployment was rising with the eventual closure of many companies and industries. Federal and state funding for GBTD was far less than that of CT Transit, which led to fluctuations in bus service scheduling and routing. The area had lost more than half of its riders after C R & L's demise. Some ridership gains were noted after the formation of GBTA- with improvements in scheduling, route changes, and new routes created. However, Downtown Bridgeport particularly saw severe economic decline, with Lafayette Plaza Mall's closing by the early 1980s as well as Leavitt's, H L Green,Kresge's, Howland's, Read's, Sears, and Gimbel's among major retailers no longer in business. Furthermore, most bus service within Bridgeport remained infrequent since 1972, largely at hourly intervals. This economic depression spread to the once-large employers in and around Bridgeport. Adding to this was the revelation of mismanagement at GBTD, which eventually led to its re-organization under the name Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (GBTA) by the early 1990s. Meanwhile, the operations of regional localized bus service by Chieppo Bus Co., Valley Transportation, and Cross Country Coach had ceased by the early 1980s, consequently ending direct bus transit links to Danbury, Derby, Milford, New Haven, Norwalk, Waterbury, and communities in between. Also- since 1982, there had been no bus service along US Route One linking Bridgeport and Fairfield with Westport and Norwalk. Entering the 21st Century up to present day, however, Greater Bridgeport now has adequate bus service to Norwalk. Westport, Fairfield, Trumbull, Shelton, Derby, Stratford, Monroe (limited service), and Milford. Transit districts were formed as far back as the early 1980s in Milford and Norwalk, with their bus operations alongside CT Transit linking bus service to Darien, Stamford, Wilton, Ansonia, Seymour, Orange, West Haven, and New Haven. GBTA recently reported ridership levels (Summer 2014) at over 22,000 weekday average. (Contributed by Ted Elliss)
CL&P acquired several companies before becoming CR & L:
- CR&L over the years acquired a number of other companies:
- Bridgeport Traction Company, acquired 1900 (leased to ConnCo 1905-1936)
- Derby Street Railway, acquired 1900 (leased to ConnCo 1906-1936)
- Milford Street Railway, acquired 1900 (leased to ConnCo 1906-1936)
- Shelton Street Railway, acquired 1900 (leased to ConnCo 1906-1936)
- Meriden Southington & Compounce Tramway Co., acquired 1902 (leased to ConnCo 1906-1936)
- Cheshire Street Railway, acquired 1904 (leased to ConnCo 1906-1936)
Changes from streetcar to bus operationEdit
The last streetcars in each division were replaced by buses as shown in the following table:
|Division||Year last streetcar was|
replaced by buses