I grew up listening to both exciting and scary stories how the drivers would make a roller coaster ride from these buses. Somewhat, it was also infamous for its vehicular accidents and one would quip, paspasero pano; or if it’s a near miss, one would say, maurag talaga an Bicol Express!
I could still remember that it introduced the first bus in Sorsogon with a press button engine start and air suspension. If you rode the buses with stiff suspension, riding the ones with air suspension would give you a noticeable experience. I think it was either a Mercedes or a Hino brand back then.
For air-conditioned bus lines, it was competing with Sarkies Tours and Pantranco/Philtranco.
Luckily, I didn’t have any accidents riding the Bicol Express. I did have some share of delayed trips due to flat tires, but that was it.
I remember its biggest bus station in Pasay; by the time we started taking the bus from the said terminal to Sorsogon, it was recently renovated. It had TV for waiting passengers and you could smell the stench of the oil and the smoke from the idle buses. I know Gubat was the main depot for the bus line (isn’t a family of Oga came from Gubat?).
The original JB Line terminal in the former town of Sorsogon was now the 2nd branch of Mercury Drug along Magsaysay Street, beside the Hatol establishment. They also had trips to Bulan, but didn’t have a chance to try it.
In the late 90s, its service started to deteriorate. By the year 2000, I can’t remember if it was still operating its bus. I know that its service dwindled to jeepneys and just faded away.
Credit: Pinoy Bus FB page