Co-opera of Publi In Oils the Wheels
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Transport A. E. Sheirtck-Mesher SINCE its formation in July, 1912, the Aldershot and District Traction Co., Ltd., an associate of B.E.T., has carried over 80Orri, passengers and run some 220m. miles. Being based in a military area it thrived in two wars, although the traffic handled from 1914-18 was insignificant compared with that carried from 1939-45.
The peak traffic year was 1950, when 52m. passengers travelled over 12im. miles by the green and cream buses and coaches which serve some of the finest country in the south of England. This figure was reached in a series of substantial jumps from the year 1940, when 25m. passengers were carried a distance of nearly 8m. miles.
By 1951, however, a purse-happy public had spent most of its money and the pinch of inflation was being keenly felt. The tightening of purse strings was reflected in a drop of about lim. in the number of passengers carried, with a proportionate decrease in mileage.
44 Per Cent. Unremunerative Ills significant that in the year ended December 31 last, 44.08 per cent. of the mileage run by the Company's stage-carriage services and 44.49 per cent. of that covered by both stage and express services were unremunerative. These figures are a measure of the responsibility which a public-utility undertaking bears for the provision of services to the community regardless of cost and are an unassailable argument against the nationalization of road passenger transport.
Although the company was not formed until 1912,.its roots go back to 1906, when its predecessor, the Aldershot and Farnborough Motor Omnibus Co., began operations with two double-deckers. Six years later, five services were being run from Aldershot, and the Aldershot and District Traction Co., Ltd., which had a capital of 0,742, was formed to take them over. To-day, 103 services (94 stage and nine express) are run and the company's issued capital is E250,000, although, in fact, over Lim. iS invested in the business. . . .
Stage services total 553 miles, thc shortest (frorn Guildford to .Dennisville) being 1.3 miles long and the longest (Aldershot to Bognor) 44 miles. Express
c8 Camberley, Aldershot, Woking and Guildford areas to Southsea, Bognor, Littlehampton, Worthing, Brighton and Eastbourne.
The main centres of traffic are in the vicinity of Aldershot, Farnborough, Farnham, Woking, Guildford, Godahning and Haslemere. The general flow of traffic is between these towns.and to them from the surrounding country areas. There is also substantial longdistance traffic to the fringe towns, such as Winchester,
Basingstoke, Reading, Egham, Horsham, Petersfield, Chichester and Bognor.
There has been much housing development near the main towns, particularly at Aldershot,. Farnborough, Guildford and Godalrning, and since the war new and extended services have had to be supplied.
Traffic varies greatly, as a study of the timetable shows. The maximum timetable frequency On any service is 7.i minutes (Guildford to Striughton) although where several services run along the same road a vehicle is available about every three minutes, exclusive of duplication. Main services operate at 15-, 20-, 30-, 60and 90-minute intervals and on ruraL routes in sparselypopulated areas, journeys vary between four and seven a day.
The company's zone of operation is mainly agricultural or devoted to military training although there are factories in Woking and in Guildford where most of the ehassis of the Aldershot and District buses are built. Like its northerly neighbour; the ,Thames Valley Traction Co.,
Ltd., the operations of which were described " The Commercial Motor" on January 4, the Aldershot and District Traction Co., Ltd., serves an area in which highly important scientific and -technical developments are taking place.
On the Secret List
Its "sphere and influence" includes the Royal. Aircraft Establishment at 'Farnborough, where manY'of the secret aeroplanes of the R.A.F. are tried out. The Society of British Aircraft Constructors holds its annual display at Farnborough Aerodrome, and on the second public day of last year's event—an occasion which will long ,be remembered locally-140,000 visitors attended, many of them travelling in Aldershot and District buses.
There are also many Army camps in the area anti troops travelling on week-end and long leave cause a large number of relief vehicles to be operated. During the war, these camps were filled to capacity and additional buses had to be hired. One of the reasons for hiring was the loss of 45 32-seaters, which were converted into 10-stretcher ambulances and were manned and run throughout the war by Aldershot and District under the direction of the Ministry of Health.
Because of the nature of the area there is no heavy workmen's traffic, although about 80 additional vehicles are required at peak periods (7.30 a.m. to 9.15 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. to 6.15 p.m.). Many of these extra buses are required to carry schoolchildren whose hours of starting and finishing school are not staggered and conflict with the opening and closing times of businesses.. .
During the winter, some 300 vehicles are adequate for normal traffic, but during the summer the full fleet of 351 vehicles is in service. Saturday is by far the busiest day of the week throughout the year. On that day, thousands of people from the villages come into the towns for shopping and amusement, and large numbers of troops go on leave at midday.
351 Buses The fleet which meets these exacting requirements consists of 351 vehicles, all, of which, except 26 Guy and two Leyland double-deckers, are of Dennis make. The double-deckers number 96 and comprise 39 48-seaters and 57 51-seaters. . The 255 single-deckers consist of 19 20-seaters (including 10 petrol-engined), six 24-seaters, 189 32-seaters, one 34-seater, 12 38-seaters , and 28 coaches. in addition, the Company has on trial a Dennis Dominant 30-ft. by 8-ft. 40-seater with Strachans body. A road-test report on this vehicle was published in "The Commercial Motor" on February 2, 1951.
Apart from the 10 petrol-engined 20-seaters, all the vehicles have oil engines. Of those, 101 are Gardner 5LW models, two are Leylands and the rest are of Dennis . make. Strachans supplied .181 bodies, East Lancashire Coachbuildera 65, Dennis 57, M.C.W.. 20, Vincent 17 and Portsmouth Aviation 11.
The vehicles are housed in main garages at Aldershot, Guildford, Hindhead, Woking and Alton, and in dorrny sheds at Petersfield, New Alresford, Basingstoke, Egham, Horsham, Cranleigh, Ewhurst and Elstead. Each main depot has a resident inspector who deals with traffic, matters, a depot foreman who supervises maintenance and a chief clerk who is responsible for all matters related to depot cash, payment of wages, ticket boxes, private hire and so on.
The chains of communication between them and headquarters run in parallel lines. The resident inspector reports direct to Mr. A. 1. Evans, traffic manager, the depot foreman to Mr. N. G. Brookes, chief engineer, and the chief clerk to Mr. P. W. Nancarrow, company secretary. These executives are in turn responsible to Mr. P. N. Gray, A.M.inst.T., general manager.
The only variation in this scheme of delegation is found in Guildford, where, in addition to the resident inspector, foreman and chief clerk, there is a district manager, Mr. J. D. Parker. Even there, however, the foreman has direct access to Mr. Brookes on engineering mat ters.
Normal dock overhauls are carried out at each depot, except at Alton, from which vehicles are sent to Aldershot. Docking routine is based on multiples of 9,000 miles, building up to a complete overhaul at 120,000130,000 miles. During .a .normai dock, at each 9,000mile interval, injectors are checked, tappets adjusted, engine oil changed,. oil and fuel filters cleaned, chassis greased, and water joints, engine suspension system, clutch, gearbox oil seals, rear axle,. propeller shaft, transmission couplings, steering, front axle, brakes and lighting system are examined.
c 0 • At 9,000 miles and 18,000 miles each vehicle is generally examined, and after each 27,000-mile interval it heavy dock is undertaken.. This consists of the normal dock and the exchange of cylinder heads.
Complete overhauls, which are performed in the short space of five days, take. placeonly at Aldershot. After the 120,000-mile mark has been passed, the chassis is completely stripped: and rebuilt and all units are changed. The fleet average is 10,000 miles per 0.001 in. of cylinder wear.. The Dennis 06 engine averages 250,000 miles per set of wet liners. .
When the chassis has been rebuilt it is passed to the body shop, 'where the body is fully overhauled and repainted in addition to complete repainting, vehicles are partly repainted at intervals of 15-18. months. A high standard of cleanliness is observed throughout the fleet.
During the past 25 years, the company has acquired most of the independent operators in its area, although some still exist and all have joint working arrangements with Alder shot and District. Services from Guildford to Stoughton and 12 ydes Hill are operated jointly with Yellow Bus Services, from Guildford to Dennisville jointly with Safeguard Coaches, Ltd., and .froth. New AIresford. to Winchester in association with Winchester and District Motor Services.
Some -of the. Aldershot and District services form spurs into other areas and in these cases joint operations are carried on with the London Transport Executive, the Thames Valley Traction Co., Ltd., and Southdown Ni otor Services, Ltd. Return tickets are available on the L.T.E., Thames Valley and Southdown services.
Special arrangements are in force with the Southdown company for the issue of through tickets from Guildford to Brighton, Worthing, and vice versa, and from Guildford and Aldershot to Southsea, and with Hants and Dorset Motor Services, Ltd., from Aldershot, , Farnham and Alton to Southampton: Road-rail interavailability is in operation between certain selected pairs of points.
In the field of co-operation, the Aldershot company's part in the establishment of a fine modern bus station at Guildford ranks high. This achievement provides a splendid example of co-ordinated activity between a municipality, nationalized transport and private enterprise, and other local authorities have shown great interest in it.
Gentle Persuasion Aldershot and District is the biggest operator in Guildford and persuaded all the other operators in the town to use the new. station. Part of the ground on which it is built belonged to the company and this was sold to the corporation, which then acquired further land. The station , consists of two sites, one of 3,500 sq. yds. and the other—on the far side of the River Wey, but connected by a foot bridge—of 2,230 sq. yds. •
The larger site has three. long curved platforms with passenger, abetters, and accommodates 14 btlses: ihirty two services are r.un froril:.it• and e■Tr1,/ vehicle can pull in or out without shunting. This part ofthe station is stalled and maintained by the Aldershot
concern. The smaller section has three platforms for eight buses and is the base for 17 services. The complete station cost £11,000 to build, and there are over 1,100 departures from it each day. . The departure charge has recently been reduced from lid. to lid.
Some of the services originating in Aldershot have to use the public streets as terminal points, but 18 of them operate from the Aldershot company's station. It is a • square corner site with a separate entrance and exit. There are nine bays up to which buses back, and five bays which permit vehicles to.be driven straight through, there is a half-timbered waiting room and inquiry office. About 2,500 departures are made weekly from this station, but its size is inadequate and the company is trying to negotiate with the Railway Executive for extra ground.
The fares structure has been built up over a long period according to local conditions and there is no basic charge per passenger-mile. The company recently sought to regularize its return fares on the basis of LI times the single fare, but the Licensing Authority would not allow a rate of more than l times the single.' There are no workmen's fares; but season and scholars' tickets are issued at reduced prices.
Except for a few short town services, on which the Bell Punch ticket system is used, Setright ticket machines are employed. This system has been in operation for lb years. The machines are maintained in the company's own workshops.
The staff of 1,425men and women is well served with welfare amenities. The athletic club has an 11-acre sports ground, for the use of which employees pay 2d. a week. The club is responsible for running. canteens at depots and for recreation rooms. The 'management has provided a first-class dance hall at Aldershot, which is said to be the finest for many miles around. A slate club and benevolent fund are also in operation.
The slate-club contribution, which is voluntary, is 7d. a week and entitles a member . weeks' Sick benefit at 11 a week and a further six weeks at 10s. a week. On the death of a member or his wife, the next of kin receives about £75. Members of the benevolent fund pay 6d. a week and last year £1,791 was paid out.
If anyone doubts whether welfare pays, he should
" note that the Aldershot concern has not had a stoppage of work in 30 years and that over 200 employees have at least 25 years' service. Sufficient staff is available to. enable all services and duplicates to be ,folly main
to six tained throughout the year, although a good deal of overtime has to be worked and during the season many employees are on duty seven days a week. The difficulty is to find recruits of the right type.
The company has always been generous with seating space in its single-deckers, so that they can be used equally well on stage or express services or for 'private hire. The steep rise in costs, however, is causing the management to consider introducing additional seats 10 increase revenue per mile, at the risk of losing some " pleasure " passengers. A large intake of new vehicles is expected from 1953 onwards and it is hoped that with a larger seating capacity they will reduce mileage, particularly on duplication, and increase the load factor per mile.
The possibility of extending the Aldershot and District sphere of operation is not obvious, as the cornpany is bounded on the west by Hants and Dorset and Wilts and Dorset, on the north by Thames Valley, on the east by London Transport and on the south by Southdown.
Expansion, it would appear, lies in the absorption of the small undertakings in the present well-defined area, the possible development of local industry and an increase in the number of troops stationed in Aldershot District.