Bus Service Inside Kearney
A. Street Car
(as remembered by him in 1915) A H
Boltin and some other businessmen organized a tram line – the horse drawn
streetcar – in 1887
Route went from the courthouse to the
West on 25th to the lake
East on 25th to Ave E, then north to old fairgrounds
Converted to electricity when power plant was completed in 1889
Operated to mid-1890’s shortly after the Boom
C. Bus service including to the air base
June 1, 1922 – Homer Graham Starts a Bus Line
Had been operating a taxicab for several
Decided to start a street omnibus line
Route from the court house to the Kearney State Teachers college
To run on a regular schedule.
Large Ford Trucks, fitted with bus bodies, will be used,
Will stop anywhere to take on passengers or permit them to alight.
Fare to be ten cents
If the passenger traffic is sufficiently heavy it may
be reduced in the future.
The first schedule will be half hourly from both terminal points.
Two busses will be used on the route,
Third kept always in reserve, to replace any that may
get out of order.
Don’t know if service was continuous or
started again in 1925
July 14, 1925 – "Bus Line Had A Good Start"
Cornhusker Bus line to start its service
Long gray trucks
Carried 400 to 500 the First Day
6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Half hour service - Pass any point on the route every 15 minutes.
Route from court house on Central and out West Lincoln Way to the TB
Single fare 10 cents.
Weekly passes for $1 are encouraged.
Can be used by anyone in the family or circle of
Sept 25, 1928 - Cornhusker bus line, aka
Cornhusker Stage line
Operating from Kearney to Lexington
and North Platte and Grand Island
Expanding to carry express at rates
lower than parcel post.
[and so began
competition with the PO?]
1942-1949 – Bus Service between the Air Base & Kearney
Nothing in City Directories
Nothing in Archives file of news clippings
Nothing in bound copies of the Duster – the base newspaper
Bus was operated by the military
Take a load in to town
Pick up at drop off point
Also came into Kearney to pick up civilian employees and take them back
All other bus service was between Kearney and other town/cities
Bus, especially a small bus or van
Carries passengers over a regular route on a flexible schedule.
A small motor vehicle, such as a bus or van,
An unlicensed taxicab or illegal taxicab operation
A share taxi
A dollar van
An ancient name, a slang term, for a nickel (from the original 5 cent
For those who rolled their own,
Prince Albert advertised little red bags of tobacco for “the price of a
jitney ride”, 5 cents.
Dist. 24 had a program and box supper to raise funds for an organ.
L.A. Koeppe, auctioneer, auctioned off the boxes, one going for as much
A jitney counter was set up in the back where those who did not buy a
Buy sandwiches, cake and coffee for 5 cents each.
Car – Man in Minneapolis wanted a motorcar so he
saved buffalo nickels for 3 years. When he had $461.45 worth, 9,229
nickels, he brought them to the dealer and drove away in his new car.
2. First Appearance
First Jitney Bus appeared in London in1830.
It was steam powered;
Carried 28 passengers inside and 22 outside.
Railroads stopped it from operating by getting a law passed that required a
man to be 100 yards ahead of it with a red flag in daylight and a red
lantern in dark.
3. In US - 1915
March – Jitneys were popular on the west coast.
L A had 1,050
San Francisco had 300
Seattle had 300.
April – The first jitney bus made its appearance in Minneapolis.
In St. Paul [MN] the jitney fever is epidemic.
More people want to jit than the jits can accommodate.
May – First annual convention of the National Jitney association
Held in Kansas City.
Those who addressed the convention said it was a growing business.
[Jitneys providing competition to street cars in large cities like Philadelphia]
Oct. – Philadelphia had legislated jitneys out of business
Jitney drivers reorganized themselves as “club cars and sold memberships
5 cents each which entitled the member to a ride on any of the jitneys in
4. In Nebraska – 1915
March – Attorney general ruled the “jitney” to be a common carrier.
Regulated by the state railway commission
April – Received its 1st application from a jitney company for permission to
issue auto stock.
Made by the Grand Island Jitney company and is for $10,000 worth of stock.
May – Lincoln passed an ordinance for licensing jitneys.
Three had been operating about three months, none at a profit.
License could be for a 4-passenger bus or for 20 passengers or more
June – Omaha was requiring a liability insurance bond of $10,000.
A local bond company said that would cost jitney men $15/month.
4. In Kearney
March 1915 –
Denison was looking at an electric auto bus for carrying passengers from the
depot to the Midway Hotel.
International Harvester had a representative bring one to Kearney to
Other cities were establishing “Jitney bus” service and it was being
suggested for Kearney.
No street car service in Kearney
No regular and defined method of transportation
No efforts to establish a service of this nature since the ‘boom day.’
Some older citizens thought a “Jitney” service would be practical
It could be operated by individuals
At certain parts of the day when the service was most needed.
Practical points of service - Normal School, the court house and the heart
of the city.
A good business for “some enterprising young auto man”.
[Less expensive to operate than a streetcar]
[D?] Wort and Minton were rigging an auto bus to be used by the Midway
Talks about jitney service have not gotten anywhere.
A Grand Island man was looking at the possibility of putting in a number of
Nov. 1916 – Operates Jitney Line
Charles H Ledbetter (a car salesman) started the first real
jitney service in the city,
Two large autos for the regular jitney trade. Enclosed in times of need
Mr. Ledbetter to drive one machine
Another competent man
in charge of the other.
Headquarters at the Midway garage.
April 20, 1917 – The new jitney of the Midway hotel is on the job now
Truck is built on a Republic chassis, the top being made here.
World War I & the Buffalo Co. Fair
Had been transp. by railroad from depot to fairgrounds
With the war
RR rolling stock not available
Fair Week Laws for autos, especially Jitneys
All auto traffic east to the fairgrounds must use Lincoln Highway,
Westbound traffic to use 31st street.
Only jitneys are available.
Effort made for the charge to be 10 cents each way.
Car owners wanted to charge 25, some willing to go with 15.
Also the city wanted to put a tax on the business.
The early applicants were charged $3.50, same as a taxi permit for 6 months.
Later it was suggested that one dollar be charged since he fair only lasts 3
But city officials were afraid changing the rate would result in a
so they should stick to the letter of the law.
Meeting of Officials to arbitrate the problems
Mayor, city clerk, city attorney,
Representatives of the fair association
Representative of the taxi cab owners & drivers
The ordinance had set the rate at $5/year by local drivers and $20/year by
Past admin was issuing permits for 6 months at a time instead
of a year for $3.50.
Finally agreed on the $1 for three days.
Those under this special permit mostly charged 15 cents because the fair
association paid for their permits
to assure there would be enough autos.
The taxi drivers kept their old rate of 25 cents to any part of the city.
Jan 1918 – City council asked to develop a plan for allowing short period
jitney service during fair week.
June 1918 – Mid-Summer racing meet – July 3-4-5 at the fairgrounds.
train service, will have to rely on jitney service who charged 15 or 25
Sept 1918 – All jitney drivers had to have their city licenses displayed
properly, according to the police who rounded them up to tell them.. The
average charge was 25cents for one person.
1920’s – 1940’s
Term jitney came to mean an old, run around vehicle
April 1920 – About the assessors in the county –
“A dozen chickens are worth ten dollars in the eyes of the assessor
One jitney regardless of vintage, is worth a like sum even though it might
not be junked for that amount.”
May 7, 1921 – The city acquired a jitney when an ”alleged booze car” was
abandoned. To be used for responding to calls around the city and providing
taxi service to department members on certain occasions.