OPINIONS and QUERIES
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AN APPRECIATION OF THE ASSOCIATIONS.
[49381 I was greatly surprised that an article such as " Fiddling While Rome Burns" (issue October 23) should have come from the pen of Captain E. H. B. Palmer. It is, in my opinion, an unjustifiable attack on two associations which have and are performing meritorious work for the industry. The trouble does not lie with the associations, but with operators inside and outside their ranks on whose ears the plea for unity and support is wasted and who continually place individual interests before all others.
My own concern has been a member, of an association for years, and the service and help which we have received from time to time have amply justified the payment of our subscriptions. The road-transport industry is noted for its hard-headed, shrewd business men and the thousands of operators who are members of associations are ample 'testimony as to the value of membership. When the merger eventually takes places we can expect, and will no doubt receive, better service than ever, and may the final arrangements be effected with all speed.
THE INDUSTRY IS STRENGTHENING A.ND CONSOLIDATING ITS POSITION.
14939] The crisis for road-transport is over, it has survived its baptism of fire, and although much remains to be done before it can assume its rightful place among the great industries of this country, the turn of the road has been reached and operators can now look to the future with a greater measure of equanimity.
For months past operators have been warned that the road-rail battle is just beginning ; " the A-licence struggle will be the testing time for road transport," " do not be lulled into a false sense of security," are phrases which have been drummed into operators heads, and not without justification. Since the inception of the traffic Acts the railways have been as busy as bees preparing ammunition with which to devastate the lines of road transport, the money which has been spent by them in preparing their case against the renewal of the Bouts-Tillotson licence application must have been stupendous, and what have they achieved? Very little. Bouts-Tillotson have lost liCences for 11 vehicles with an aggregate weight of 55 tons, and, mark you, vehicles which have not been used since the latter part of 1935.
No reasonable person can quarrel with the Licensing
Authority's view that this constitutes reliable evidence that the vehicles were no longer required, especially in view of the fact that 1935 saw a general increase in trade, and advantage was not taken by the applicants of Regulation 15 of the Goods Vehicles (Licences and Prohibitions) Regulations, 1930, which enables a licensee to obtain temporary licences for vehiclesto replace those under repair.
I consider that A.D.J. in his recent article exaggerated when he stated that hundreds of operators were quite prepared and even expected long-distance transport by road to be shattered at a blow, but a considerable number certainly expected that much more drastic steps would be taken by the Licensing Authority, and possibly such steps could have been taken without his decision being effectively challenged. In this respect his decision was certainly a victory for road transport: the only vehicles which have been removed from the licence are those which evidence (the applicants' own) showed to be surplus to requirements.
The Road and Rail Traffic Act has ameliorated and is likely further to reduce unfair competition, and the idea that the decision in the Bouts-Tillotson case would be welcomed by the railways is ridiculous. An appeal has been lodged against the decision, the result of which remains to be seen, but I question whether the Minister of Transport can find any ground for upsetting such an equitable decision.
From time to time I have advocated what Mr. Gleeson-Robinson stated in his decision, when dealing with : (i) Proof of need before licensing additional tonnage, (ii) Certificate of Fitness Regulations, (iii) Drivers' hors, and (iv) Wages. This was briefly as follows :— " None of these factors has yet had time to exercise, save in a limited degree, its anticipated effect, and some of them have only had time to become operative to a small extent. It is to be anticipated that with time, and with improved methods of enforcement, they will collectively exercise in the future a greatly increased influence on the competition to which rail-transport has been subjected in the past," and, I might add, at the same time remove those internal troubles with which the industry is grappling to-day.
Mr. GIeeson-Robinson also made other important statements upon which Licensing Authorities in other areas will no doubt frame their decisions when considering A-licence renewals, the two most important being as follow :— (1) "The disadvantage of railways having to compete at higher rates for traffic subject to road competition could be removed by other means than by the refusal of licences."
(2) " I am satisfied that it is very greatly in national interests that, if possible, all forms of transport should be permitted to develop, subject to necessary control, the advantages which they can respectively offer."
Bishop Auckland. TRANSEX.
THE ARMY'S MECHANICAL TRANSPORT IN 1914.
 Last year, a " well-informed " witness, giving evidence before the Royal Commission on Arms, stated that, at the outbreak of hostilities in 1314, the British Army was in possgssion of only one motor vehicle, i.e., an ambulance presented to Sir John French.
I was serving in 59 M.T. Co., A.S.C., Aldershot, before the war, 'and the number of vehicles on the strength of an M.T. Co. was then six or seven. As there were six companies in-Aldershot, I should say that
there would have been about 50 army motor vehicles in that district alone.
An M.T. Co. is really only a skeleton in peace time. On mobilization to a war basis it changes its name and increases its personnel and equipment to a considerable extent. For example, the 59 M.T. Co. became, on mobilization, the 1st Divisional Supply Column, and from its original strength, as stated, it immediately grew to some 45 3-toners, 16 30-cwt vehicles, mobile workshops, and stores lorries, in addition to motorcars and motorcycles.
I often think of the wonderful work that the civilian motor drivers did with these vehicles, especially during the retreat from Mons, when the vehicles were working practically day and night, taking supplies almost 'up td the front lines and bringing our own and German wounded back to railhead; which might be 40-50 miles from the dumps. .
W. M. COLE, ex-C.Q.M.S. und C.S.M., 1stDivisional Supply Column. Frampton-on-Severn.
STANDING BY ASSOCIATED ROAD OPERATORS.
 The newly constituted "Freight Brokers' Section" intends to stand by the A.R.O., and we are not unduly worried that the negotiations between our association and the C.M.U.A. have terminated.
We are satisfied with the facilities-which the A.R.O. has given us and we are hopeful that the increased membership of our section of the industry will prove of real value to our association.
London, E.C.3. JOHN MILLER, Hon. Sec,
COSTING VEHICLES ON HIRE-PURCHASE.
 As quarry owners, and newcomers to the haulage trade, we have recently acquired three vehicles for the haulage of our own materials. Some weeks ago we obtained a copy of your Tables of Operating Costs, also The Commercial Motor Operating Costs Record, but there is one item upon which we would like further information.
These three vehicles are being purchased by H.P. agreement and formerly we have ascertained our standing charge by obtaining the value of the payments per year, then working them down to the amount per
hour. We would like to know what allowance, if tany, we should make for depreciation and interest, or whether we should include the same amount of depreciation and interest as is allowed for in the Tables.
At the moment, for running costs we are working as follow : We are allowing the value of the monthly repayments on the wagon, plus tax, insurance, etc. then using the running charges as taken from your Tables.
We would be obliged if you could let us know whether this is correct, or alternatively what is the best method
of arriving at the operating costs. PUZZLED. Ryhope.
[It is quite wrong to include any payment whatever under a hire-purchase agreement as operating costs in connection
• iith a motor vehicle. A little consideration will, I think. show you to what absurdities this procedure would lead.
• Assume that you have a vehicle for which you have paid 21,200 and which is covering, say, 36,000 miles per annum, and that you are paying for that vehicle in one • year. Then the cost for hire-purchase payment alone will
.be 8d. per mile. On the other hand, if you are paying for it over a period of two years, the cost will be 4d. per mile and so on. There is no logical basis of comparison as between one vehicle and the next. Another point: you will find that if you try to do this you will create complications when dealing with the Income Tax Assessor, who will certainly not allow you to debit an item of capital expenditure as an operating cost. All the items of operating cost in connection with any motor vehicle are those set out in " The Commercial Motor Tables of Operating Costs," and you will be as near as you possibly can to the precise figures if you take the amounts quoted in those Tables as a basis for your costs.—S.T.R.]
NORMAL OR FORWARD CONTROL?
 We have under consideration purchasing a 30-cwt. van for confectionery-delivery work. Could you give us the relative merits of a 'normal " and an " overtype " vehicle? R.C.H. Limefield.
[Regarding normal and forward control, where body space is of no consequence, normal control is preferable, because the engine is more accessible and the driver farther away from its noise, heat, etc. Body space being of first importance on commercial vehicles, normal-control machines are now the exception rather than the rule. The disadvantages are almost negligible and the advantages great, including, as they do, shorter overall length, shorter wheelbase and better weight distribution.—En.]