History of Transit in the Harrisburg Area

Looking Back….

Every so often someone asks why CAT does not perform charter or special services. Often the question surfaces when references are made to CAT’s predecessor Harrisburg Railways Company (HRC).

HRC, was private “for profit” bus company long before the days of public transit.  As such they had no basic restrictions on doing charter work–even competing with other local intercity bus companies who did nothing but charter work.  Charter work supplemented regular route income and the company always maintained several over the road buses which were used exclusively for this purpose.

HRC could run charters to any point in Pennsylvania, after April of 1953 and with the establishment of a subsidiary Company called Keystone Charter Service charters could be operated to the surrounding states. In 1962 HRC acquired the well respected Bushey Bus Service, Inc.  Bushey’s eight newest buses became part of the HRC fleet and charters, through the former Bushey permits, could now be run to Ohio, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. from any point within a 10 mile radius east of the Susquehanna River.

HRC’ Keystone Charter Service was off and running booking various local clubs, groups, and schools.

When the private transit carriers, in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) became quasi-government authorities,  emphasis was placed on their respective route networks and, basically, most charter services were turned over to private companies.

What limited remaining local charters that were allowed to be operated by public transit systems became history with a Federal Transit Administration ruling issued in mid-2008.  Charter services, from that point, were to come under the auspices of private “for profit” bus companies.

This aforementioned aspect of the history of Capital Area Transit is one often overlooked but is an interesting part of our archives – part of what makes this such an interesting industry.