History Milestones


1936 – Trailways is founded
Five independent transportation companies form a small motorcoach network, the Trailways National Bus System, to compete with the large and connected Greyhound Bus Lines.

Approximately 40 independent companies now make up the network’s expanding system. “Born of the Night” is a prevailing Trailways bus theme for transporting passengers, mostly Armed Forces personnel, in the darkened hours of the night. With the War over, the system is flourishing and ridership is booming.

1956 – 20th Anniversary
The well-established Trailways National Bus System is basking in its hay day period. Americans prefer traveling via Scenery Level in Five Star Service Class featuring air-conditioned buses. Passengers now enjoy the system’s thru-service network from coast-to-coast, which means not changing buses.

Trailways continues to be a strong company with 60 bus companies who are still independent, but now all mostly look have the same logo and appearance. The company promotes one set of standards for all.

The bi-centennial year, Continental Trailways, then owned by Holiday Inn, changed its name to Trailways Inc., absorbing the majority of the smaller and well-known network operations nationally as well as later re-acquiring the Eagle production facilities (in 1981).

1986 – 50th Anniversary
The event is low key as Trailways faces two of its greatest challenges since its inception: deregulation and the sale of Continental Trailways to Greyhound Lines. Intercity ridership continues to drastically decline. The diminishing independent network circles its wagons to protect its now fractured system.

1996 – 2000
Trailways is embattled, but is determined to survive. With only 14 companies that remain from the system’s earlier force of 77, the fiercely independent operators agree to resurrect Trailways’ founding spirit and rebuild the network by changing its focus to industry diversity, partnership and inclusion. The first female President/CEO, Gale C. Ellsworth, is hired in 1997 and begins to rebuild the organization, its spirit and network of motorcoach stockholders, helping to expand and develop a new “Trailways.” The offices are relocated from Washington, D.C., to the suburb of Fairfax, Virginia in 1999.

2006 – 70th Anniversary
Trailways grows to 70 fiercely independents operators and adopts the theme, “Team Trailways.” The company expands membership to include 80 industry partners. The focus is on promoting safety and security foremost, including the requirement that all members have DOD-certification, and quality. The stockholders are strongly committed to the brand.

2011 – 75th Anniversary
The milestone is marked at the annual conference with a gala, and a special anniversary magazine is published. There are now 90 motorcoach stockholders including Canada and Europe.

2016 – 80th Anniversary
Collaboratively, the Trailways network operates more than 10,000 for-hire group transport vehicles, of which, 2,000+ are over-the-road, full-size motorcoaches (buses). Trailways travels over 20 million miles annually. Trailways began developing a new strategic plan in preparation of celebrating its 80th Anniversary on February 5, 2016.

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  • Trailways Bus
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  • Art Linkletter
  • National Trailways Bus System