T HE success of municipal motorbuses in a city which was,
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until recently, regarded as a stronghold of tramway services1 is instanced in the annual accounts which have just heel' issued by the Newcastle Corporation Transport Department. In the past, the report has been published in a joint form covering both omnibuses and trams, so that it has not been possible to ascertain definitely the detailed results of working for either mode of transport. Now, however, as the result of the suggestion which was put forward by the Ministry of Transport and the local legislation committee, when the corporation's new motorbus Bill was before Parliament, these have been rendered separately. There is now actual proof of the success of the " Blue " bus fleet in the statement that the motorbuses showed a net profit on the year ended March 31st last of £12,530, as compared with a profit of 0,132 in the same period on. the trams.
The total bus Tevenue for the year was £82,553 and working expenses were 164,770, leaving a favourable balance of £17,783. From this sum, there had to be deducted £5,253 for interest redemption, income tax and rent, leaving
the satisfactory net surplus of £12,530.
During the same period, the bus fleet, which now numbers about 58 vehicles (for the most part single-deck, 26seaters), carried 6,239,661 passengers, a figure showing an increase of 667,661 when compared with the total for 19251926. The actual mileage covered by the vehicles was 1,892,209. As• the number of passengers carried by the buses increased so considerably during the year, it is of interest to note that the tramcars carried over 11,000,000 passengers less than in the previous year.
In a statement dealing with this falling off in tramways patronage, the general manager, Mr. T. P. Easton, refers to competition from privately owned motorbuses on the outskirts of the city. He says, "The capital expenditure incurred in laying down tramways outside the city boundaries amounts to £249,178 per year. Interest and loan charges total, approximately, 121,270 per annum. The ever-increasing activities of the private-bus owners are, therefore, a matter of anxiety and occasion grave concern as to the future of these tramcar services. Legislation has not yet afforded any protection." wheelers which has recently been commissioned for service.
During a visit which we paid to the works of Hall, Lewis and Co., Ltd., Park Royal, London, N.W.10, a short while ago, we were able to observe the bodies of these vehicles in course of construction, and although they follow what is generally accepted as conventional practice, they are built on modern lines and indtpate the excellence of the products of this coachbuilding concern.
The latest type of bus purchased by the Edinburgh Corporation is a 40seater, in which the driver is accommo-: dated in a forward position in a halfwidth cab, the entrance to which is by a door OD the off side. There are two openings in the body on the near side for the use of passengers, that at the rear being an entrance and that at the front an exit.. The rear entrance is 32 ins. wide and is of a type in which the rear portion is slightly recessed. The opening and closing of the front door are controlled from the driver's cab.
The body is divided into two sections, that at the rear, which is built to seat 17 people, being intended as a smoking compartment, whilst the saloon portion at the front seats 23 people. Generous knee space is allowed between the seats, which are of the bucket. type type and are comfortably upholstered in green leather.
• The subject of ventilation has received ample consideration; and rectangular ventilators are fitted above the .side, lights, which are of, the drop pattern. The interior of the vehicle is exceptionally well lighted. a 12-volt dynamo' supplying current for both the interior and exterior lamps, as well as for the route and destination indicators placed forward on the roof. The body i's finished in maroon with a panel in cream at the waist„ the window' frames being in White and the roof in black.
The WL6-type Karrier six-wheeled chassis conforms with the Ministry of Transport regulations and• has a wheelbase of 17 ft. 6 ins. It is designed to seat 37 passengers, but many bus operators desire to take advantage of increasing the seeding capacity up to the licensing limit of 40, and for this reason the WL6/1-type chassis, which is similar to the WL6 model in all respects except that of wheelbase, has been included in the company's range. The chassis to carry 40-seater bodies has a wheelbase of 19 ft., and is propelled by a 61-80 h.p. six-cylindered power unit. It is shod with 34-in. by 7-in, single pneumatic tyres on all wheels, and air-pressure brakes, which
are standard equipment, take effect on all four driving wheels, a brake also operating on the transmission.
This small fleet of vehicles will form a useful addition to the large number of buses run by the tramways authorities in Edinburgh, the manager of which is Mr. R. Stuart Filcher, Minst.T. We may call to mind that in our issue dated August 2nd last we published details of the operation of the municipal buses in use in Edinburgh for the yeqr ended May 15th last, during which period they showed te good working profit.
The WL6/1 Karrier chassis also forms the basia of a six-wheeled bus which Karrier Motors, Ltd., has just supplied to the Blackpool Corporation, which, it may be recalled, recently took delivery of a 55-seater double-deck bus on the company's WL6/2 chassis. The body of this single-deck bus is also a product Of Hall, Lewis and Co., Ltd., and, as is the case with the bus supplied to the Edinburgh authorities, Is. built to seat 40 passengers. The
seats are of the semi-buclet type and are built to face forward, with the exception of four on each side over the rear-wheel arches, these being placed longitudinally. There are 25 seats in the forward 'saloon and 15 in the rear compartment, which is intended for the
use of smokers. In this particular model there is only one passenger entrance, this being at the rear.
An outstanding feature of the body design is the clerestory roof, which, without creating any suspicion of topheaviness, enables a total height of 7 ft. to he obtained in the middle of the body. • Two windows on each side of the bus can be lowered, thew being operated by Rawlings mechanism. The driver is accommodated in a forward position and the windows of his cab are made to slide.
Twelve electric roof lights, sanitary strap-hangers, a linoleum-covered floor and aluminium kicking strips form some of the interior fittings of what is undoubtedly a very serviceable .bus.
TT is always pleasing to learn that a 'pioneer concern, starting in a very small way in the days when motor vehicles were few and far between, has built up a business of considerable size. This is particularly the case when one reviews the history of the company and finds it a long record of consideration -for the public, combined with a sound and progressive working policy. Such a concern is the Aldershot and District Traction Co., Ltd., which recently celebrated its twenty-first anniversary and which has its main offices at Halimote Garage, Halimote Road, Aldershot, Hants.
The business was originally established on June 1st, 1906, by the Aldershot and Farnborough Motor Bus Co..
which ran two omnibuses, at the dizzy average speed of 3 m.p.h., on a single route between Aldershot and Farnborough. The vehicles then in use were probably as efficient as any owned by other bus companies at that time, but the breakdowns en route averaged one for every quarter of a mile. This fact is even more remarkable when compared with the number of breakdowns which has occurred to the present large fleet during 1927, i.e., one in every 23,000 working miles. These figures include all accidents—the company, by the way, considers that an accident has occurred if a vehicle makes the slightest contact with another object.
The total average of accidents for the past 21 years has been one for every 16,000, miles run, and only one has proved fatal to a passenger actually riding in the company's vehicles.
In 1906, eight persons, including drivers and conductors, were in the employ of the company. Two of these, Mr. W. Shepherd, chief inspector, and Mr. H. Essam, inspector at the Guild ford depot, are still on the staff, and five of the present employees joined the company in 1908. Now, 700 persons, including the indoor and outdoor staff, are employed. Mr. Tom Poster, who was the first managing director of the company, is now deputy chairman of the present board.
The operations of the concern have steadily widened in scope and the number of vehicles in the fleet has correspondingly increased. A service to Farnham was opened in 1908 and the first char-a-banes was added in 1910.
On July 24th, 1912, the present company was formed and, in 1913, the service operated by the London and South Western Railway Co. between Farnham and Haslemere, and that worked by Mr. B. Chandler between Hindhead and Haslemere were taken over. Later absorptions include the Surrey Hills Motor Services, operating from Guildford, which were taken over last year.
In 1914, before the outbreak of the Great War, the company owned 18 buses, 40 lorries and 20 Foden wagons, which were all irr daily use on passenger and goods-carrying duties. The whole of the transport was used during the war by the War Office, and it is interesting to note that the first wounded to arrive from Mons were carried, it is claimed, in one of the company's single-deck buses, all of which were used for ambulance purposes.
_After the war the company devoted its attention to passenger transport and, by 1921, 40 double-deck and singledeck buses and seven chars-à-bancs were in use. The fact that the fleet now numbers no fewer than 140 buses of different types and 18 chars-à-bancs shows the great strides made in the past few years. It is stated that the majority of these vehicles are now of Dennis manufacture which, together with the fact that each bus or char-abanes is inspected daily, dock overhauled every three months and completely stripped once a year, goes a great way towards accounting for the present low percentage of breakdowns. In accordance with the company's progressive ideas, the fitting Of pneumatic tyres to all the vehicles in the fleet will shortly be completed. Another instance of the application of this policy is that a large number of all-weathertype coaches has now been placed in service.
The number of passengers carried during this year averages 1,000,000 per month, which, when compared with 18,000 for 1906, affords another proof of the steadily increasing growth of the organization. Moreover, the routes which are operated by the company now number 43 and serve 100 towns and villages and, whereas the route in 1906 was only 3 miles in length, the present services cover a total of 350 miles of road.
Naturally, this rapid expansion of business has necessitated a large increase in the number of garages, workshops and offices. The main depot in Halimote Road was entirely rebuilt in 1915, the present offices being erected in 1922. In this instance if is amusing to note that the original office was a small hut on wheels, where, owing to the absence of a safe, the daily takings were carefully secreted each night in the company's wastepaper basket!
Further depots were added during 1925 and garages and office-buildings are now situated at 15 different points on the various routes. Thus, besides the main buildings at Aldershot, the com
pany has offices at Alresford, Alton, Bognor, Chichester, Camberley, Ewhurst, Egham, Guildford, Hindhead, Haslemere, Horsham, Knaphill and Petersfieid.
4. special feature is made of privatehire work and an interesting advertising campaign in connection with this department is now being carried out and is proving very successful.
Messrs. W. H. Gubb and Son have one of the largest fleets of motor coaches
in Ilfracombe. Mr. Gubb, who has lived in the town all his life, takes a great interest in its development and is one ef the four owners of publicservice Vehicles on the kcal urban district council. The company's fleet is composed of Dennis, Napier, Reo and Crossley vehicles.
The amalgamation of the Royal Red and the Silver motor-coach services into Copps and Autoears (Ilfracombe), Ltd., has given that concern an important place in the town. Mr. Thomas Capp is a pioneer, and his name has long been associated with passenger road services, The leading tourist agencies often enlist his help in providing trips from Ilfracombe for the thousands of holiday visitors to the town. Mr. F. J. B. Haskell is the general manager and secretary of this company. Most of the coaches run in the service of the company are of Daimler and Dennis make.
Scarlet Pimpernel Cars and Motor Supplies, Ltd., 7, The Promenade, Ilfracombe, also runs a large fleet of motor coaches, and has a fine garage at Portland Park.
As at Torquay and elsewhere in Devon, the Ilfracombe motor-coach services are distinguished by the colours of their bodies—violet, grey, mauve, blue, green, red, black and white, yellow, claret, olive being some of the many shades used for this purpose.