A History of the #33 and #35 lines - Coldspring Crosstowns
Typical sight from the late 1970's - Coach #2103 lays over at Montebello on April 23, 1979. Jack Bloodsworth photo.
The Coldspring Lane Crosstown is an example of an idea that- once given the level of support it needs, will grow to fulfill its projected usefulness. The changes of the line were hard fought and gradual. Still, they did occur, and have caused the line to be the most expanding of all of the city lines in the 1990s.
The line's history begins at an odd time for system expansion - the final days of the BTC. One would think that BTC's last thoughts were on any new service as its ridership continued to dwindle thanks to the automobile, but nevertheless, on September 23, 1968, the #35 Cold Spring Lane Bus Line began service to Morgan College along Cold Spring Lane. The Retreat Street coaches used for the service were usually 1200s, although 1400's sometimes found their way to the line. The route simply used Cold Spring Lane for the entire length of the trip, looping using Garrison, Oakford, and Granada at the West, and turning at the McKeldin Student Union parking lot at the East. Service was limited to 3 trips in both the morning and evening peak periods. Since the length of new line was long, while the service very limited, it is doubtful that Bus Stop signs were installed along it. Riders simply flagged the buses down to ride them, and bulletins state that stops simply be made at all intersecting streets where safe to do so.
While the line did reasonably well in the peak flow directions, it performed weakly for its return trips, thus leaving a substantial amount of dead mileage, and resulting in its discontinuance with the end of operations on May 30, 1969. BTC quite simply did not have the capital to expand the line to meet its potential, and the skeletal service it did provide would not attract many other regular riders than the Morgan students who were travelling to and from school. It would take years and effort for the Cold Spring line to meet its potential.
Several years passed, as the MTA had taken over operations of the local Transit Service. By the advent of 1976, there was growing interest among Morgan State students and staff to try to reinitialize service along Cold Spring Lane. Meetings and correspondence were conducted between officials of the MTA and the school, and finally on January 17, 1977, service began on a "TRIAL BASIS" on the new route, designated, appropriately, "#33." Initially, service was offered only on Weekdays, from 6am to about 6:30pm. The route operated between the Belvedere and Groveland/Belvieu terminus down Dolfield Avenue, and across Cold Spring Lane to loop at Morgan State via Hillen, Havenwood, and Loch Raven. The line was operated from Kirk Avenue, and for many years, saw nothing but ex-BTC fishbowls assigned to it, typically of the 1963 Vintage high 1900 class.
The service must have been well recieved, as the line was incorporated as a regular route with the next pick. In January of 1978, another trial took place, as the line was extended to Moravia during Rush Hours, with base service turning back at Montebello State Hospital. This setup lasted for many years. In 1982, the line was one of the first to recieve the new Grumman 870s as it was designated a Wheelchair Accessible Route, along with routes 3, 8, 22, and 36. On June 18, 1984, the line was extended into the Rogers Avenue Metro Station with the implementation of the extensive Metro Connection Routes program. However, it was not until June of 1986 that the #33 began to recieve the respect it deserved. At this time, service was extended to run until 10:00 in the evening, and Saturday service was commenced, initially running on a sporadic 90 minute headway.
Gradually, service has increased, and the #33 line has become a full-fledged, respectable, and dependable crosstown route. Ironically, when the Saturday service began in 1986, service to Moravia operated all day, while the weekday mid-day turn back at Montebello continued to operate, thus isolating Moravia bound patrons from truly having a functional crosstown bus serving them. This would be alleviated in 1993, when several improvements were made, the first being the extension of service to Moravia at all times (at the cost of a longer mid-day headway), the addition of a second Saturday block (dropping the headway down to a more practical 45 minutes), and the inauguration of Sunday Service (at 90 minute headways).
Later, service would be improved once again, with the addition of a third bus in the base period, dropping the headway from 50 minutes to 35 minutes, as well as the extension of service to Midnight on Weekdays and Saturdays.
While the #33 line is no Route #13 by any stretch of the imagination, this line has garnered an increasingly steady ridership, and continues to post more than acceptable farebox recoveries. The heavy student ridership to Morgan State and Poly and Western High Schools has been a major cause of this, as well a number of patrons switching from Route #44 for a faster or more convenient ride. The line offers a lesson to the schools of current day planning that seem to believe there are no more opportunities to create successful transit operations in the declining population within the City limits.
to return to the Main Index