Commissioners Favour Express Operators: Fares Reduced
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I-1 A FARES " battle " between two
coach operators serving Wokingham, Berks, entered a fresh phase last week. Smith's Luxury Coaches (Reading), Ltd., who operate express services to the coast, Successfully applied to the South Eastern Traffic Commissioners for a reduction in their day return fares from Wokingham, bringing them into line again with the excursion and tour fares charged by Brimblecombe Bros., Wokingham.
Last year, Smith's were granted a 12i per cent, increase, and the Commissioners then ordered Brimblecombe's to raise their charges. On appeal to the Minister of Transport, Brimblecombe's were allowed to revert to their former fares, which left differences of up to 2s. in fares charged by the two cornpanies to similar destinations. In July this year, Smith's obtained a dispensation to allow them to charge the same fares as Brimblecombe's.
In evidence, Mr. Frank Masser, Smith's traffic manager, said business had increased considerably since the dispensation was granted. It was obvious that the day return fares from Wokingham had been too high, and he was confident that economies would allow them to continue at the reduced rates.
He agreed with Mr. M. Corley, for Brimblecombe's, that to reduce fares from Wokingham would leave a difference of as much as. 2i 6d. compared with fares from their starting point at Reading, seven miles away.
Mr. William Brimblecombe, a director of the objectors, said he had experienced a heavy fall in bookings since Smith's received their dispensation. He wanted a differential fare of 6d. or 9d., because excursion operators should be allowed to charge lower fares than companies operating express services.
Mr. A. G. Goodeve-Docker, for Smith's, said they were entitled to say they had made a mistake and revert to their former scale. If anyone needed protection, it was an express operator.
Granting the 'application, Mr. H. J. Thom, chairman, said ekeursion and tour rates should not be lower than those on express or stage services between the same points. When Smith's were granted their increase the idea had been to ensure that their fares from Reading were higher than those from Wokingham.
"It seems very much in the public interest that a regular service, be it only a summer service catering for pleasure traffic. running to a time-table on every day of the week, should be maintained and have its revenues protected," he said. "It is far more in the public interest that that should be done, rather than try to protect an excursion and tour operator who persists in charging lower fares than have been found by the majority of operators throughout the country to be justified in modern conditions."