Hello everyone. Today’s story will be about The South Suburban Safeway Lines Bus Company. The first time I saw those buses was when I was living in the Roseland neighborhood in the early 1970s. My family and I moved into the neighborhood in June of 1969 at 11135 South Michigan Avenue in an apartment above a shoe store called Schiff Shoes. My late father owned the property from 1965 to 1996. We lived there for five years until my father raised enough to buy a house in another neighborhood. I wasn’t crazy about living there, but the neighborhood was wonderful.
My first memory of seeing those buses was when my brother and I were looking out the window from our apartment and saw them drive by on South Michigan Avenue. The CTA bus route 34 S Michigan was also there and it was repeatedly nice seeing those vintage propane buses. When my family waited for The South Suburban Buses, we usually boarded on the corner at East 112th Street where Gately’s Peoples Department Store was formerly located there. The express route transported us from E 112th Street to South King Drive, to Michigan Avenue downtown. I undoubtedly remembered the fare boxes when you drop your coins into the slot and there was wheel was turning that lasted about two to three minutes. The ads on the buses were remarkably interesting. The promotional ad that I frequently saw was for Bays English Muffins.
The other route that I remembered was The Dan Ryan Flyer. Instead of South King Drive, the route would be on The Dan Ryan Expressway to the south suburbs. I remembered the sign curtains on the buses that said Roseland-Altgeld Gardens, Dolton, Riverdale, South Holland and others. The other routes that I remembered were on South Halsted Street & South Western Avenue. My favorite route was the one on King Drive. It was slower but more scenic. I remembered at East 63rd Street & South King Drive where the elevated train was. Also, the turnaround of The Calumet Bus that went to Gary, Indiana, was located there too. The CTA bus route 3 King Drive, both local and express buses, would stop at the East 93rd Street bus turnaround. I used to see those buses there all the time. The routes have changed since then and they were extended more faraway south.
The bus garage was located in Harvey, IL, and the buses were housed there for years. The price of the fares was very reasonable, and the commuting to downtown was very enjoyable for everyone. The most humorous thing that most people remembered about those bus routes was periodically passengers realize that were express buses and they can’t get off to their destinations. They would either get outraged, sad or throw a hissy fit. South Suburban Safeway Lines went out of business in 1983 and was bought by The Regional Transportation Authority.
From former residents of Roseland, surrounding neighborhoods and the southern suburbs, The South Suburban Safeway Lines Company was fondly remembered for providing good transportation to everyone that commuted to and from downtown Chicago. The Roseland neighborhood was bustling shopping district on South Michigan Ave with wonderful businesses long gone. Whether you were a student, housewife or any person that never drove a car, it was right there on our doorstep. And that was a beautiful thing. Thank you. Pete Kastanes-Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.