For the editor:
During the week of September 25, I had seen eye-catching advertisements for the new Hermann Express bus service. Although I wish him all the success in the world, some advertisements call the new Hermann Express “New Ulm’s first city bus service.” I must object to this incorrect statement.
In 1946 Roger Booth started “New Ulm Bus Lines” provide citywide bus service with the same concept that the new service hopes to achieve; transportation assistance to those in need includes stops at various employers, shopping locations and public service stops.
After two years of ownership, Booth sold it to Teddy Arndt who ran it for a year and a half before selling it to my uncle, Burton “Buddy” Sveine, in 1949. Buddy ran the bus service until he sold it to Fred and Orv Steinberg in 1955. Some may also remember Uncle Buddy from his years with Liberty Cab.
After Fred Steinberg’s death in 1958, the family sold it to associates Norman Maas and Jerald Mowers, who operated it for a year before selling it back to the Steinbergs who finally had to let it go in 1961. New Ulm adventure with a 15-year city bus service.
The key to the operation of the bus service was to ensure a critical mass of passengers.
“We need more runners to make this business work”, was a common plea of all owners. The rise in private car ownership after the heyday of World War II port prosperity meant that public transport was not as necessary as it had been.
These pioneers had no civic money to fall back on and that is perhaps the key difference between the bus service of yesteryear and today, although paid ridership will always be a factor in the eventual judgment of the success of the new bus line.
A city bus system is a benefit of city life that provides a means of transport for some who might not otherwise have it (apart from our excellent taxi system) it is more environmentally efficient to carry multiple passengers at once rather than just one passenger, and it helps people patronize our businesses.
I gave a one-hour presentation on this subject, titled “Buddy Sveine: transport entrepreneur.” It is occasionally broadcast on our cable television stations and is available from the library on DVD. He obviously goes into a lot more detail about New Ulm’s taxi and bus services.
Good luck to everyone on the Hermann Express, but let’s not forget the pioneers of bus services in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s!