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Holyoke Street Railway bus. undated photo. Courtesy of the Holyoke History Room & Archives

Holyoke Street Railway bus. undated photo. Courtesy of the Holyoke History Room & Archives

Throughout the 20th century the Holyoke Street Railway attempted to adopt to changing transportation trends. They embraced bus service as their primary focus and became a local transportation giant. By the mid 1960s they employed one hundred full-time drivers and maintained seventy five buses. In the 1950s HSR was the exclusive school bus contractor for the cities of Holyoke and Chicopee.

In 1955, Louis D. Pellisier, Jr. took over as president from his uncle George Pellisier. Louis had joined the company after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in business administration in 1936.

During the 1970s inflation drove up costs and the HSR relied heavily on federal and state subsidies to survive. Surely the economic climate was on the mind of Louis Pellisier in 1977 when the HSR joined forces with the recently established Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) to take a more regional approach to bus service.

Holyoke Street Railway bus. undated photo. Courtesy of the Holyoke History Room & Archives

Holyoke Street Railway bus. undated photo. Courtesy of the Holyoke History Room & Archives

The company retained school bus contracts until 1986, when they lost the lucrative one million dollar contract with Holyoke. In 1987 Pellissier offered his drivers a one year contract without raises. The drivers refused to sign the contract and Pellissier was forced to shut down the business. Busses that were leased from the PVTA were returned and the Springfield Street Railway took over Holyoke bus service for PVTA.

Last Stop

The importance of the Holyoke Street Railway to the history of Holyoke cannot be understated. Intercity travel allowed city dwellers to move outside the urban core and grow Holyoke’s population and housing base. The railway contributed to the success of Holyoke’s most prosperous period.

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