The History of Burlington Trailways


February 14, 1929

The Burlington Transportation Company was started in Burlington, Iowa by the Chicago Burlington Quincy (CBQ) Railroad.

The railroad division concentrated on freight; the motor coach line on passenger travel. The Burlington Lines, as the motor coach division was called, was one coach running on Highway 34 between Burlington and Galesburg. By the end of the year, motor coaches were covering 858 road miles.


17 motor coaches covered 1,024 miles of line routes with each motor coach carrying a maximum of 21 passengers.


Service was added to Omaha and Denver. The Burlington Lines operated from 300 South Main in Burlington.


Service from Chicago to California was added. The Burlington Lines now covered 735,000 motor coach miles per month.

The Motor Carriers Act of 1935 slowed the motor coach lines growth as restrictions were placed on railroad companies’ ownership of motor coach lines.


February 5, 1936

The Burlington Lines became a founding member of the National Trailways Bus System (NTB).

NTB, consisting of five motor coach lines, was formed to compete with the Greyhound Bus Lines and was the first organization to support and promote independent motor coach owners and operators.


25 air conditioned motor coaches were purchased. All coaches run on diesel fuel. Motor coaches were covering 1,225,000 miles a month.


The National Trailways Bus System was booming in Iowa. At the time, Ron Moore’s father was starting Arrow Trailways in New Jersey. The motor coaches were traveling 20.9 million miles per year.

51% of the motor coach lines were sold to All American Bus Lines. Burlington Bus Lines had assets of over 7 million dollars with an income of over 3 million dollars.


Going Our Way?
Newspaper advertisement printed in the Des Moines Register in 1945


The company was renamed Burlington Trailways/American Bus Lines. Chicago Burlington Quincy Railroad sold the remaining 49% of holdings.


Burlington Trailways/American Bus Lines made its last acquisition as an independent company.  The name changed to American Bus Lines (ABL).


Continental Trailways purchased ABL.


A competitor, American Bus Company, operates from 611 Jefferson in Burlington.


Ron and Lori Moore acquired the operating authority to certain Iowa and Missouri routes from Continental Trailways. The depot was located at Fairway Center in Burlington.

The Moores’ renamed the business Burlington Trailways, a name which had not been used for 29 years. Starting with 4 motor coaches and 11 employees, Burlington Trailways served passengers with daily runs from Cedar Rapids to St. Louis, and Des Moines to Peoria.

Burlington Trailways receives the U.S. Department of Defense certification, one of only 460 companies out of over 4,000 to receive this.


The general office and all maintenance facilities were consolidated to one location, 906 Broadway, in West Burlington.


Burlington Trailways increases to 8 motor coaches, 23 employees and 12 drivers.


Burlington Trailways routes include:

• Des Moines to Davenport
• Cedar Rapids to St. Louis
• Omaha to Peoria
• Burlington to Chicago


A new extensive Driver’s Training Program is introduced and continues today.

It is even more extensive than federally mandated.


The red and white color scheme was adopted on the 13 motor coaches.

Routes included Omaha to Chicago, Cedar Rapids to St. Louis and Davenport to Indianapolis.

A new depot and 6,000 square feet of office space is built at the 906 Broadway, West Burlington location. The existing building, located next door, continues to house the company’s maintenance shop and parts room.

Burlington Trailways does a majority of their own heavy maintenance to the motor coaches including rebuilding engines.  Body work and the rebuilding of automatic transmissions are the only things not done on-site.


Burlington Trailways adds Denver to Chicago, Des Moines to Waterloo, Dubuque to Rockford and to Chicago. The motor coaches travel over 5,000 miles daily.


Trailways becomes the test company for Global Positioning System (GPS). The Trailways Voyager System was installed throughout the fleet. The system is unique in that it is used for tracking and monitoring the coaches at any place and time via the internet.

The Voyager System can tell if a motor coach is parked or running, how fast it is traveling, how close the motor coach is to other surroundings, and where it is located. The Trailways network is the only transportation company currently with this technology.


Burlington Trailways celebrates 25 years of service.


Security cameras are installed on all motor coaches for extra security and safety. Twenty-six motor coaches are in operation with connecting service available nationwide in the USA and Canada.

Charter service may be provided anywhere in the USA and Canada. Daily runs are provided to Denver, St. Louis, Chicago, Quad Cities, Iowa City, Waterloo, Omaha and Des Moines.

The motor coaches accommodate 47 to 55 passengers with reclining lumbar support seats, climate controlled air conditioning/heat, individual lighting, 6 disc CD player, AM/FM radio, PA system, satellite radio with individual headsets, VCR/DVD player, and restroom.

Three million miles are covered yearly. Comfortable and affordable travel with excellent connections to other means of transportation is what Burlington Trailways is all about.


Plans are underway to expand the offerings of Burlington Trailways and to update the facilities.


In February, Burlington Trailways purchased the former AAA Building, located at 3211 Division Street, to accommodate the Travel, Tours, and Charters side of Burlington Trailways along with a full service travel agency.


Burlington Trailways held a groundbreaking ceremony in November for its new facility in West Burlington. The facility will house the company’s administrative offices and provide adequate space to service and repair its growing motor coach fleet. The new project is expected to cost approximately $3.6 million and create 25 new jobs within two years. The expansion will enable the company to provide quality service to the 206,000 passengers it serves annually.


In the middle of May, the expansion for the new facility is completed. The 59,000 square foot building houses six bays for working on coaches, which includes one wash bay, one inspection bay, one body shop bay and a paint booth.

The south end of the facility holds 14 offices, four dormitory rooms, several counter areas, specialty rooms, restrooms, and storage space.

In the past, Burlington Trailways  sent their coaches out for body work, but it is now done in-house along with painting the rebuilt parts.

Drivers who need to spend the night in Burlington are provided with a dormitory room equipped with a shower.  A lounge area allows drivers to watch television or to eat a snack. 

Everything is located on one level for the mechanics; the old maintenance building required them to retrieve parts on the second floor and now the parts room is right next to the work bays.


Tires, which used to be stored outside, are stocked in the parts room. Many parts used on the motor coach will be in complete inventory.

The company purchased an alignment machine to add to the maintenance shop rather than sending the coaches out for alignment.

Burlington Trailways expanded their dispatch with three computers, five screens for monitoring weather, and the progress of their drivers through GPS. Each motor coach has several cameras for security purposes. If the coach has a mechanical problem or trouble with an unruly passenger, the driver can press a button to alert the dispatch office.

Burlington Trailways applied a great deal of safety measures in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration, including a tall chain-link fence around the headquarters.


Burlington Trailways celebrates 30 years of service.

In July, Burlington Trailways introduced their mobile driving simulator classroom which is a fully functional motor coach that has the ability to go anywhere.

This provides drivers simulated training allowing them to experience all road traffic, conditions, and possible hazards in a controlled environment.

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