CONTINUATION OF THE REPORT OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOME OFFICE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY ON TAXICAB FARES.
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The sitting of the Home Office Committee on Taxicab Fares vhich took place on the 24th ult., of which we reported in our lest issue, the bulk of the evidence that was given, was concluded by the statement of Mr. Sam. Michaels, the secretary of the Motor Cab Drivers' Protection Associatium
Mr. Micerar.as said that he was at present a driver, and he quoted figures which were based on his experience. Petrol could be bought outside the garages at 3d. per gallon, and this weuld yield a consumption at the rate of 20 miles to the gallon. He advocated a daily or weekly wage. Li his opinion, the institution of a regular wage would enable the masters to clear oue those drivers who, they complained, only did a few days' work every week. The witness, who protested that the men were anxious to help the masters, was of opinion that. 3rd. was not sufficient as daily remuneration for the men's audio>, s duties.
The first witness to appear at the resumed sitting on Monday, the let inst. was Mr. A. H. Barturier, an owneredriver, who had purchased his vehicle on the hire-purchase system, and stated that he and a colleague had between them acquired two four-cylinder 12-14 h.p. (Juice at. 2375 each, including everything.. Both the cabs are worked on a double shift ; the two owner-drivers working the late shift and two hired men the early shift. The shifts are from 7,30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Mr. Barrett stated that he was oppesed to the raising of fares. He wanted an additional rate for anything over a six-mile journey. Mr. Barrett's cabs are uerked for seven days a week and the average daily takings are 16s, per shift or 32s. per cab per day, not including extras, which the witness estimated at " a slight fraction over six pence in tho £." The number of enga,gemente pee cab per day were about 30 for the double shift; " during the daytime a man gets a very large number of small fares; frequently he wilt get sixteen fares for 16s. The average number of hirings is 16 per day for the day shift and 14 for the night. shift. Nearly half the hirings are for the initial fare only. At night this proportion is much lower, however." Mr. Barrett estimated the tips received by himself and his partner at 3s. in -the £1 each. The day shift makes less tips than the night shift. The mileage for each cab per week is about 500 or rather over 70 miss per day. Each car &we 20 mike to the gallen. So far as garaging is concerned, this is done by contract at the rate of Al. per cab per week, which coven washing and cleaning. The cabs cost about 3id. per mile, including petrol, depreciation at 25 per cent., and tires, the latter -at the rate of 1d. per mile. The average earnings of a London driver were placed by the witness at 24s. a week, and that includes tips and deduction for all such charges as station fees, petrol and food. He thought the supply of taxicabs was ample for the suburbs, but he complained that the police restrictions with regard to the circulation in she theatre area at nighttime were irksome. " We are excluded from Piccadilly from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Shaftesbury Avenue is filled with horsecabs whilst Scott's are whistling for taxicabs and .cannot get them." Asked by Sir Clarendon Hyde what the two assistant drivers were paid, the witness said that they were given all their petrol, their extras and 25 per cent. of the takings. The chairman calculated that, this gave the men a aeeekly wage of 42s., but this was subsequently reduced, after a revised calculation, to 39s. 9d.
Sir C. HYDE.—" Is there any special reason why you and your partner work night-shift? "
Mr. B.S.REETT.—" Before we started we had some idea that. if a Haan was inclined to be dishonest ha wonld he more likely to be dishonest at night than in the daytime." Mr. ALBERT GARDNER.---An owner-driver of two-years experience, drives a ITnic cab, which he is purchasing on the instalment, system; he stated that his average daily takings were 25s„ and that the average extras received were 2s. a week. `‘ Sometimes I go a week and do not get one extra." The tips he placed at from 15s. to 21 per week. Petrol cost him 11d.. lees the rebate, and the charge for garage and cleaning was 17s. 6d, per week by contract. This latter item included no repairs or maintenance charge. The witness placed the average earnings of ordinary taxicab drivers in London at from .£1 to 30s. per week ; he did not, object to the extras being abolished. " They are so little that it would make no difference," he said.
Requested by Sir Clarendon Hyde to state how much was the average sum which he had available to take home, Mr. Gardner said that he had not gone into it accurately
The eating of the committee. on Tuesday, the 2nd inst., was occupied by the taking of the evidence of Messrs. Davison Dalziel and George du Cros of the General Motor Cab Co. and of W. and G. Du Gros, Ltd., respectively. Mr. Davesoez Deanna, in his opening statement, said " I am addressing you on behalf of practically the whole of the taxicab proprietors of London, employing among us about 20,000 men, drivers, washers and other labour, and owning over 6,000 cabs with a capital invested cf over £3,000,000 of public money," He was of opinion that the majority of the taxicab drivers in London had no serious differences with their proprietors. " In my opinion,' he continued, " but for the influence of agitators and so-called leaders you would never have had any protest before you." He complained of the failure of the drivers to register the extras, the receipts from which source he estimated as 2e. 6d, per cab per working day. " It has been stated, in evidence, by the drivers," he said, " that it was their practice to charge for extra passengers on the first cabs, which were only licensed to carry two passengers, and that the proprietors looked upon these fares as the drivers' perquisites. 1 moat point out, however, that until four-seated cabs were licensed by the police a fare for extra passengers could not be legally charged. When the two-seated cab was superseded by the four-seated licensed vehicle, the tax was increased from 15e. to £2 17s. 6d. per annum, and this was due to the fact that the weight was increased to just over a ton per vehicle."
" The first taxicab to be placed on the streets of London was put into service in March, 1907, and this was a twoseated machine. The change to a four-seated typo was the cause of considerable increase in gross weight. The cost of manufacturing the body elas increased, and there was also an increase in the cost of tires, due to the greater imposed weight." The proprietors considered that they were entitled to the extra fares lamely on account of these additional expenditures which they had been forced to incur. It was correct to state that the average takings of the General cabs between 1st August, 1910, and 31st March, 1911, were 21 3s. LI for the 33rixton cabs. This was during the worst eight mouths of the year. For a full year from 1st April, 1910, to 31st March, i911, the average receipts for the entire fleet were 21 Sc. 7a-1.
" A good deal," contieued the witness, " has been made in the evidence before you, of the fact that on one occasion Mr. Cohen, the managing director of the General Co., said that the men would receive 7s. a day_ It, must be borne in mind that Ode statement was made on a festive occasion, when the men and Mr. Cohen were enjoying themselves at a banquet on the night prior to starting the taximeter cabs in London. Mr. Cohen's estimate of 7s. a day has been borne out, if it be taken into consideration that many hundreds of the men_ du not work more than a few hours a, day, but waste their time at football matehee, cricket matches, and in billiard-rooms. I have it on the personal assurance of Mr. Cohen that a very large number of men, after taking their cabs out in the morning, go to their own homes and leave their cabs outside their own houses."
"I should like to refer to the evidence which was given by Mr. Russell, who is in the employ of the General Motor Cab Co., and whose average day's takings, for the year ending 31et Marche 1911, have been £1 Ils. Ild, per day; the average amount of petrol consumed by his vehicle has been 2.87 gallons per day. Russell is an example of what a steady and industrious man may do." " A large percentage of the men won't work, and these destroy the aomi effect of those who do. There are 1,400 cabs at Briaton garage always in an efficient state and ready for service. Careful examination of records shows that on au average 451 cabs only are taken out on Sundays, and 1,188 is the. average for an ordinary week-day. If any moral is to be -drawn from this state of affairs. it would be that it is ridiculous to suppose that any working man should require to be placed in a position to be able to keep his family by working only four days out of seven. Although the men are provided with every protection against bad weather, it is a fact that when the conditions are at. all unpleasant the number of cabs taken out is diminished very considerably. I could give employment to a thousand more men if I could find them " said Mr. Dalai& " I am of opinion that the Knowledge of London ' test at Scotland Yard is rather too stiff."
" Four days out of the seven we can calculate, that we have 212 of our 1,400 cabs standing idle." The witness stated that he thought there were about 1,700 nten enrolled for the 1,400 cabs. He denied that motorcab driving was detrimental to the health of the men. The company's medical adviser was of opinion that their health benefited.
Mr. Dalziel represented that it would be only equitable if the present system of double licences, namely county council and police licences, were abolished. " We are opposed," he said, "to the petrol tax, because we consider that it was imposed upon the cab industry in direct violation of an agreement between ourselves and the authorities. We ask that the initial fare shall be raised, for the first mile only, from 8d. to 10d., and for the other mileage charges to remain as they are. We advocate this change because we are satisfied that our revenue will be increased, Subse queutly the earnings of the men will benefit by that increase." In the witness's opinion, a large number of pas sengers at present give no tip at all. If the 10d, initial fare came into force, he was convinced that the man who gave nothing would give Is. for a 10d. fare. He asked that a police notice should be authorized for placing in the cabs with reference to the payment of extra& He did not coil eider that that it was practical to initiate a scheme for hiring the cabs by the day to the drivers, largely on account of the difficulty of controlling the maintenance of tires and the consumption of petrol. Moreover he said that the original business was not organized with the idea that cabs should be hired to drivers.
Asked as to what he considered was fair remuneration for a driver. Mr. Dalzie1 stated that the man who could earn 21 lls. 11d. average per day should be able to make a good living under the etisting arrangement. Mr. Dalziel stated that the General cabs on the average cost about 2350 reedy for the road. They have 3,300 licensed cabs and about 1,000 unlicensed.
Mr. GEORGE Du CRos, the managing director of the W. and 0. Co., was the next witness. He stated that his company,
at the present time, owned 1,200 tabs and that of these 10 per cent, were off for overhauling. With regard to the gross average earnings in 1911, January, February. and March, these amounted to 21 3s. 1ld. ; in 1910 21 8s. for the same months. In 1911, the drivers' proportion would be Os.; this would represent 9s. a day with tips; with is, 9d.
as the average amount paid for petrol, there was left 7s. 3d. a day. For 1910, drivers secured a corresponding return of Sc. 9d. These figures take no account of extras.
With regard to breakdowns, the witness stated that they allowed the amount to the driver if the fare refused to pay. " If it prevents the driver working, we allow him 28. 6d, to 3s. 6d. as compensation for the rest of his day. From 29th August, 1910, to 25th April. 1911, we have had 368 bilks.'
amounting to 2122 3s. 11d." The witness proceeded: " I have three books here which have come into my possession: they have all been found in cabs. The names of the drivers should be kept private, but I am perfectly satisfied that they are genuine books. They correspond with my books; but when I see an 8d. fare and is. 4d. Lip, T think -the shilling must be an extra. One driver in 109 days, January to May, 1910, paid into the firm 2116 13s. 4d., or a daily average of 21 is. 6d., and his commission was 25 per cent., amounting to £38 17s. 9d., or 7s. lid. per day."
"The amount of the tips for the same period was 243 16s. 91d., or an average of 8s. 0141. per day. This leaves hint 136. 5d. a day. This driver worked six days a week; repre senting £4 Os. 10-0. per week. Another book is that belonging to a driver who only worked four days a week, and this covers a period of 22 clays. The net amount received in that time was 220 Is., or a daily average of 18s, 2id. The driver's commission in the 22 days amounted to 25 Sc. 11-0, The tips received in that time were 27 14s. 7d., or a daily average of 7s. Oad., that makes 11s. 91]. a day, so that he got 22 7s. a week of four days. and this was in November and December -very had months. In 22 days this man paid 4s. to the
firm for extras. The third book belonged to a man who had just learnt, to drive ; he had never been a driver before, and the period covered was 15th March to 8th April, 1911. In 21 days he paid in 221 9s. Erd., or a daily average of 21 Os. 5d. ; 25 per cent, commission amounted to 27 3s. 21]., Or a daily average of 5s, ld. altogether. The driver's tips amounted to £6 las. 7A., giving 6s. 71]. as a daily average; that meant 13s. 5d, a day to the driver. Of this he paid for petrol 2s. a day; so that for a. week of six days he got. 23 Sc. 6d. During the 21 days he only paid 4s. in as extras. This man never drove a cab before the 15th March, 1911; so that this proves how unnecessary it is for a cabman to have 25 years'
experience! Witness was of opinion that these examples were in no way exceptional. " The general effect," Mr. du Cros continued, "of the evidence of these three books is to show that the extras and tips, if added together, were 8s. Oicl. per day, 7s. Old. per day, and 6a. 7d. per day respectively, and these were for actual working days." Mr. du Cros stated that the gross extras registered by hie drivers during 1910 was £4,419 6s. 3d., and this worked out at a fraction under 30. per cab per day whilst plying for hire. He would like to see the extras abolished.
Asked what he considered drivers were earning at the present time, he stated that he had taken the accounts referring to the first 16 drivers that he employed, and, including an estimate of tips at 3s. 7d. per day and deducting for petrol, their weekly earnings averaged 22 13s. 10d, each. These men were not necessarily the best men, but they were a fair average. The average working day for a driver was 11 hours; very few worked over 12 hours unless there was some mishap. After the experiment of offering a bonus to those men who brought in a certain total every day, Sir. du Cros came to the conclusion that there were some men who would not work six days a week, and that a man could earn sufficient Ill four days for his needs. The eross mileage for 1910 of the du Cros cabs worked out at 12,699,000. which was practically 60 miles per cab per day, and of this, 36 miles was the average engaged mileage. The average hours away from the garage were between 11 and 11. With regard to the cost of petrol, Mr. du Cros stated that between the let of January and the 31st of March, i.911, this had coat the company 27,959, and the money received from the drivers for petrol for the same period' was 26,444; taking into account the free petrol that was allowed to drivers to go into town from Acton and the wages of fillers and the depreciation of the storage plant, there was a loss on the petrol account of 2579 in the year, His company has at present a contract for half a million gallons of .715 spirit.
On Wednesday, the 3rd inst.. Mr. J. SCOTT, secretary of the London Improved Cab Co., gave evidence. At the present time his company is running 50 four-cylinder Delahaye 12-14 h.p. motoreabs. The witness said that he was disposing of the last of his companY's horse cabs, harness, and horses on the 5th of the month.
Sir C. Moe; " As to the different times of the veas,I presume there would he no difficulty in an all-round tariff if it could be made? "
Mr. SCOTT: "There would be no difficulty if we had urnform weather throughout the year." Asked to state what he considered would be a fair profit, he said that during 20 years they were able to earn six or seven per cent. on the old horse cabs. To-day a hansom cab is worth 30s. Further pressed for an opinion as to the profit. which should be made from the motoreab business, Mr. Scott stated that there should be no limit as to what should be earned so long as every one was getting a fair share.
Sir C. HYDE: "Do you find that you have a difference in your drivers? Do you have a lazy and a good driver, and your lazy driver pulls down the average of the whole? "
Mr. SCOTT: " That is what spoils the business. As I have shown you, there are men who can earn money where others fail to. It is like a man going fishing; one man knows the stream and the other does not."
Mr. Scott instanced the manner in which the cabmen are wont to take contracts for long-distance journeys. On a run, for instance, to Brighton. of which the witness knew, the flag was put up and down 15 times; it would be down for a mile and then up for five miles. The result was that when the driver came back to London, the taximeter showed 21 14s., whilst the fares had agreed to give the driver 23.
" The taximeter," continued Mr. Scott, "is the remedy for many of the burdens of the old cab trade ; it gives the driver Imbriainded scope; he is a partner with the proprietor, and he should be a worker. If the man is making what he considers a reasonable wage, there is no reason why you should increase it if he is satisfied with it." The witness's company had made a loss on the petrol that has -been sold to the drivers from the 1st November, 1.910, to 30th April, 1911, of 241 10s. 6a. He agreed that the men paid the tax.
Mr. A. SMITH, the president of the Cab Drivers' Union, said that his committee took strong exception to what Mr. Davison Dalziel said at the previous day's hearing, when he had referred to the influence of the leaders and agitators on the present position.
Mr. D. .T. Davers, of W. and G. du Cress, in the course of further evidence, stated that in his opinion the Brixton company was badly managed.