History of METRA
The Columbus Transportation Company was incorporated in 1924 to furnish bus service in the Columbus-Phenix City area. Howard Bus Lines initiated bus service to Ft. Benning in 1921. Both the Columbus Transportation Company and its successor Howard Bus Lines operated profitably during the 1930s and 1940s and through the end of World War II. The post-war economy was characterized by increasing home ownership and private vehicle ownership. The combination of suburbanization and increasing reliance on the automobile for personal travel triggered a downward spiral of public transportation patronage and revenues. The decreasing revenues were accompanied by rising costs of operation in the 1960s.
Howard Bus Lines was able to sustain its operation between Columbus and Fort Benning until 1978 when the company went out of business. METRA replaced Howard Bus Lines service where feasible.
The Columbus Transportation Company found it necessary to sell its assets to the City of Columbus because private enterprises could no longer operate the services at a profit. The present Columbus public transportation services are operated as a function of the Columbus Consolidated Government under METRA.