NEW YORK BUSES SHOW BIG PROFITS.
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A Well-managed Concern, Controlled by a Britisher, Leads the Way in the States in Independent Passenger Road Transport.
UNLIKE this country, the face of which is covered by a vast network of bus lines, as our American cousins call them, interlinking sparsely populated rural areas with the larger towns and cities, the United States can boast of but few privately owned, or...municipal-controlled bus organizations. In fart, those.engaged in the solution of'the passenger road transport problems of the country seem to disregard almost entirely the merits of the maorbns.
The electric street car is to the inhabitants of the-big American cities what the motorbus. is to the average Londoner, and until the biased minds.of those who are responsible for street car. operations are cleared of their inherent prejudices, and are trained to regard the petrol motorbus as an aid to the solution of difficult short haul transport ecoblema. in congested areas, and not as ci direct competitor, the motorbus will make but slosv headway in the States.
The past development of passenger transport in the States has been in the hands of a few conservative individuals who, as their expressions of opinion Clearly showed at the recent fortieth annual convention of the American Electric Railway Association, regard thei,motorbus as a powerful opponent of existing street car interests. Motot.bris interests were, of course, represented at the convention, but they were weighed down by the balance of opinion against them and consequently, made no heaths-ay.
When considering the future'prospects of remunerative motorbus operation in the Stases, one must not overlook the fact that unorganized and irregular!services by jitneys have taken much traffic from the tramcars and that it is,_ therefore, reasonable to assume that well-organized and efficiently maintained bus services, run in competition. with electric cars, would have a further influence on their passenger traffic receipts. The motorbus has not yet had a chance, but its vindication cannot be long delayed, especially if America is to retain its position amongst the progressive nations of the world, for rapid internal transport is the key to cheap production.
There are very few motorbus operatB18
ing corni)anies in the States, and the only concern (the largest in the country, by the way) who are known to many of us in this country are the Fifth Avenue Coach Co., who operate a numb.-:services in and around New York, This company, who are controlled by the New York Transportation Comp.iny, have done much spadework in the organization of efficient bus. services, and their experience should be helpful to other authorities. Although this company operate only 289 vehicles (exclusive of 50 nonrevenue vehicles), as is shown by their annual, report for the year ended June 30th last, recently issued, which is not a tenth of the number of buses run by the, London General Omnibus Co., Ltd., they must be considered a progressive undertaking with a prosperous commercial future.
During the year under review 18 addi tional vehicles were put into service, and the whole fleet made 619,151 round trips in this period, representing an increase of 50,019 trips over the previous year. The number of revenue bus hours, inclusive of 2,865 oocupied in private hire work, was 1,128,277-, and the total number of revenue bus-miles 9,191,825 divided into 9,010,047 active mites, 164,140 idle miles, and 17,658 miles on private hire work. The popularity of the services can be accurately gauged from the fact that 51,091,565 passengers were carried at a
• fare of 10 cents, this figure showing an increase of 8,538,656 passengers over the previous year.
The tabulations which are set out below, for the reproduction of which we owe thanks to our contemporary The Vehicle, will be perused by all those interested in passenger vehicle operation on a comparatively large scale.
It will be seen from the table detailieg a statement of operations, that the total revenue from the services during 1920. and 1921 respectively was 49.50 and 56.56 cents per bus-mile, the total operating expenses absorbing 35.54 cents and 38.19 cents per bus mile for the respective. years. These figures show that the revenue has increased to a much greater extent than the operating costs, and, although each sum is subject to a deduction for taxes, the profit per bus-mile for 1921 was better than that for 1920, being 11.88 cents as against 9.30 cents.
It should be mentioned in reference to maintenance charges that the rule of the Fifth Avenue Coach Company concerning depreciation of equipment provides for a charge to expense from January 1st, 1919, equal to 9.15 cents per • bus-mile, whiCh.is estimated to be sufficient and necessary to cover such wear and tear and obsolescence and inadequacy as may occur on all equipment." The basis includes a non-revenue mileage of 30,290. The amount reserved, after deducting the. cost of repairs, comprises $117,372.43 for depreciation of equipment, $16,351.25 for buildings, and $10,778.89 for shop tools and machinery.
So far as tyres (under the heading of maintenance) are concerned, their depreciation is based on the " bus-tyre mileage" at the guaranteed tyre cost per mile, due allowance being made for tyres which exceed the guaranteed mileage and for scrap.
For the payment of claims lit respect of accidents and damages, the company charged expenses (and credited reserve) at the rate of 1 cent per bus-mile until December 31st, 1920, and theieafter at the rate of 1i cents. During the year under review, the credits exceeded the payments by $13,082.81. So far as accidents are concerned, three people were killed by the company's vehicles, and 809 injured during the .year, 782 of the latter being only minor injuries.
The buses employed by the company are of a very safe type and, in a recent test of one of the latest types put into
service, it was demonstrated, as our illustration shows, that the centre of gravity was but 52 ins, from this ground. The truth of the test was supported by "tilting trials" which were made, when sandbags, each weighing 150 lb., were used to represent passengers. There have been only two cases of buses overturning, each of which resulted from an extraordinary, combination of circumstances, in a period of 14 years, during which time 270,000,000 passengers have been safely,
carried. The authorities of Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, and other American and Canadian cities have purchased vehicles of this type from the Fifth Avenue Company.
The second table shows the balance. sheetfor the end of the year, and gives an indication of the assets and liabilities of the company under the various headings.
In June last the company had 411 drivers and 432 conductors in their service, the wages of the total staff of
_. 1,321, including offices, amounting to $2,416,930.93 per annum.
The past year's working of the company can be considered very satisfactory. and the returns afford an indication of the possibility of the establishment of further omnibus undertakings in America on a sound financial basis.
We should not close this brief sum
mary of the activities a the principal motorbus operating company in America without mentioning the fact that Colonel G. A. Green, a Britisher, who had considerable experience in the pioneer days of motorbus development in this country, is chief engineer to the American company, and that he has been largely instrumental in bringing the fleet of vehicles to, and maintaining it at, its present high standard of efficiency. He maintains very close touch with develop. ments in road passenger transport in England, for he fully realizes that our bus services occupy the premier position in the world of road passenger transport.
It should be stated that the figures included in the article and in both of the tabulations are subject to such correction and revision as may be found necessary after a critical examination of the returns, which will be published in greater detail in the annual report of the Commission for 1921. It is not likely, however, that the synopsis which we have published will be altered to any great extent.