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Mission & History


Named after the Jefferson Highway, a north-south route that ran from Winnipeg, Canada, south to New Orleans, Louisiana, Jefferson Lines local and long distance bus company was created to make safe, convenient intercity bus travel accessible for people throughout the nation’s heartland.

Founded in 1919, Jefferson Lines has a rich history of civic and philanthropic involvement in the communities it serves. Jefferson Lines continues to be family-owned and operated, and today is managed by the third generation of the Zelle family to actively participate in the business.

Jefferson Lines is a member of the American Bus Association, United Motorcoach Association, National Tour Association, and many other local visitor associations and chambers of commerce.

Jefferson maintains regulatory authorities for its routes and complies with all operational standards mandated by federal agencies (such as the Office of Motor Carriers), including all safety, environmental and A.D.A. requirements.


From our home in America’s heartland, we connect people with places. Our transportation company provides scheduled service and a full range of group travel services. We earn our customer’s business by understanding what they value and require when traveling with us. Then we provide service that exceeds their expectations.

The Jefferson Lines planning operations and organizational development are subject to the following values:

  • Safety is our first priority
  • We are reliable and trustworthy in all of our business and personal affairs
  • Our respect for the dignity of every individual is demonstrated in our conduct and reflected in our intentions
  • Great ideas come from everywhere in our company
  • We are good citizens in our communities
  • We live responsibly in our environment
  • Good humor, kindness, and goodwill make our interactions richer
  • Each of us is responsible for the success of our company


Our vision is to preserve and significantly expand Jefferson Lines over the next three to five years as the preferred independent bus company that is connected with our communities, our civic institutions, and our transportation partners. Jefferson will achieve this vision through innovation and a culture of employee and customer trust.