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The Vindication of the Motorbus.

12th June 1913, Page 24
12th June 1913
Page 24
Page 25
Page 26
Page 24, 12th June 1913 — The Vindication of the Motorbus.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Seventh Set of Extracts from Mr. Albert H. Stanley's Evidence—(continued from page 317).

Organization for the Control of Traffic. -The Timing of a Route.—Hours of Labour and We reach the penultimate pages of the evidence by the mana.ging director of the London General Omnibus (2o., Ltd.., before the Select Committee of the House of Commons which is investigating the subjectof London traffic accidents. We shall not, at the moment, dead further with the subject of cross-examination by members of the Committee. That cross-examination, we regret to say, was marred by the fact that it largely developed into a series of statements by some of the members. At times, indeed, one would have thought that two at least of the members were counsel for the L.C.C. tramcar undertaking, and briefed to make the best possible ease for the exemption of electric tramcars from local rates. There can be no question that. a very serious effort has been made by the L.C.C., either directly or indirectly, to prepare questions for some of the members of the Committee, and we fancy that we trace the hands of Sir John Bean and Mr. A. L. C. Fell in this matter. It was hoped, no doubt, to get a great deal of free publicity for the special pleas that had been carefully arranged, but the results must have been disappointing. There has, on the part of the pro-tramear members, been a studied, if not concerted, action to ignore the comparative newness of motorbus traffic, and a mistaken policy, which will not carry weight with impartial people, consisting of insistence upon total accidents, and total accidents only, as the criterion, has been followed. Germane facts which count in favour of the motorbus have been brusquely pushed to one side by those members.

Organization for the Control of Traffic.

Mr. Stanley, no doubt in order to combat the suggestion that the methods of the L.G.O.C. are careless and haphazard, and such that they could be improved by any outsider, proceeded, as the next extracts from the evidence will show, to give, in very considerable detail, particulars of this branch of the company's organization.

The organization f or the control of traffic falls into two parts corresponding to the two principal departments under which the business of the London General Omnibus Company is conducted, namely, the Engineering and Traffic Departments, The Engineering Department is responsible for the maintenance and efficiency of the motorbuses, and, as being concerned in this aspect of the work, the drivers are included under this department. The Traffic Department is responsible for the routes. services, fares and arrangements for the operation of the motorbuses, and, as being concerned in this aspect of the work, the conductors ate included under this department. Each department ie independent of but supplemental to the other and the detailed organization of each is to be separately considered.

The Control of Drivers in the Garages.

Drivers are attached to a given garage and usually live adjacent to it. The garage is under the control of a Garage Superintendent, who has under him a Foreman Driver for the express purpose of assisting him in the exercise of supervision over the drivers. The Garage Superintendent has full disciplinary power to reduce in rank, suspend or discharge any driver, subject always to an appeal to the officers in order of seniority up to and including the General Manager. The MOtOlt1.1,WS are allocated to the men, so that each knows his own bus and keeps it. It is usual for the drivers to rest during the day their bus is withdrawn for overhaul. Other buses are substituted only on the occasion of the annual refit. The allocation is made by the foreman driver from among tins running buses of the garage.

The Control of Drivers on the Road.

In addition to the supervision in the garages there is a Road Department attached to headquarters. This is in charge of an official of the company and comprises eight Road Inspectors. The duties of these men are 1. To tour the whole area covered by motorbus routes with a view to determining the condition of the roads tray crsed.

2. To issue speed restrictions when in their opinion they are desirable to secure the safe end smooth passage of the bus.

3 TO check all diversions of route due to road repairs, police regulation or extraordinary traffic. 4. To check the speed at which motorbuses work, and to report irregulatities.

5. To inspect motorbuses for defects or mechanical irregularities when in actual service.

6. To report drivers for irregularities in working, such as carelessness in turning corners, failing to stop when hailed, smoking on duty, and to investigate complaints against drivers sent to headquarters For the more convenient working of this organization London has been divided into four districts to each of which two road inspectors an allocated, so that throughout the day there is always one on duty in each district.

A Dual System of Control.

Hence it will be seen that within the engineering department itself, there is a dual system of inspection and report, which secures that the discipline at every point is maintained at a high standard. As a further means of securing this, as well as uniformity at all points, the Road Inspectors exchange districts at the end of each month.

General Organiz Ation for the Control of Traffic. The Traffic Organization for the control of motorbuses in service is as follows:—

At the head of the control staff is the Road Superintendent who is responsible for the organization, supervision and discipline of the road staff.

To him report three Assistants, each charged with a definite part of the whole work.

As to Conductors.

First of these is the Assistant Road Superintendent, responsible for the selection, training and discipline of the conductors. For this purpose he has a Chief Instructor immediately under him to take over the employment and training of new men, and 15 District Road Inspectors with 11 Assistants, who between them have parcelled out the whole of the area covered by motorbus routes. Each District Road Inspector has under him Yard Inspectors for the garages in his area who see to the supply of conductors for each day's work, and are also responsible for the money taken by them in the day. These are the officials in immediate charge of the conductors, and altogether there arc 63 in this rank.

Control of Conductors in the Garage.

The conductors ale attached to garages in the same way as the drivers, and are under the immediate charge of the Yard Inspector of the garage at which they are stationed. The Yard Inspector acts in relation to conductors as the deputy or assistant of the District Road Inspector. The District Road Inspector is the chief out-door official of the Traffic Department. He is responsible for the actual discipline of the staff, with full power to caution, reduce in rank, suspend or discharge at his discretion. Each man has a right of appeal in the first instance to the Road Superintendent or his assistant, and from him to the officers in order of seniority, with a final appeal to the General _Manager, as in the case of drivers.

As to Regulation of Motorbuses and Tim-keeping.

Then he has Regulators for the prey ention of congestion and ensuring the proper spacing of motorbuses on the road, and Timekeepers for recording the times at which motorbuses pass a given point. Of these there are 44 Regulators and 222 Timekeepers.

The Timekeepers are placed at the terminals and are responsible for the orderly conduct of the men at these points and the punctual starting of the buses upon their trips. Other Timekeepers are placed at midway points on a route. Altogether 357 persons are employed in the Traffic Department in the checking of the motorbus services, and in the discipline of the staff engaged in them. These are in addition to the 67 persons employed in a similar capacity by the Engineering Department.

As to Tickets, Cash, Etc.

The second Assistant. to the Road Superintendent is charged with the supervision of the tickets, waybills, returns, and generally the commercial side of the business as it affects conductors. To assist him there arc four Chief Ticket Inspectors, and 137 Ticket Inspectors,

As to Alterations and Improvements in Service.

The third Assistant is charged not so much with the control and discipline as with the checking of the routes worked and the services provided. He is concerned with such matters as the suitability of the route from a traffic point of view, the diversions or extensions that may be desirable, the adequacy of the service running on a route and the augmentation or diminution of it, To assist him, there are eight Route Inspectors.

Principles Underlying the Organization.

It has been accepted as a principle that the responsibility for attending to the full and proper execution of the orders issued by the Traffic Department with regard to the routes to be worked and the services to be provided should be distinctly severed from the responsibility for issuing those orders and determining what routes shall be worked and what services shall be provided The second principle underlying the organization is the acceptance of a territorial basis of control rather than a route basis, though upon the final wisdom of this an open mind is to be preferred.

Lastly, if anything, the control staff may be considered excessive. Altogether, it consists of 582 persons, or one ta every 14 or 15 persons employed.

The Check on the Services Provided.

The twofold basis of the organization extends to the questions involved in the laying-oat and maintenance of the motorbus services. The Traffic Department consider the recommendations of the Road Staff in determining new schemes, but in addition, all new schemes together with the satisfactory character of existing schemes are independently considered at headquarters from the data supplied by another staff. This consists of a chief clerk, eight checking clerks, two inspectors and 44 men.

An Independent Check.

This staff is worked entirely independently of the Traffic Department and in criticism of its efforts, so that there may be no point overlooked or anything left undone for want of knowledge or for lack of energy.

The method under which this staff is worked is as follows: Each week an area is selected and the men working in two shifts, one early and one late, are stationed at different points in that area to eecord the number of passengers, the time of passing, and the route worked by each bus in each direction. Each point is checked for two or three days together and averaged to ensure accuracy, and to avoid the minor and unimportant variations that occur.

The points chosen for test are those at which some change takes place, either in the direction of the flow of traffic or i's the volume of service known to be provided. At heavy points the duties of checking are shared over two or three or four men, sometimes for each direction, and sometimes for each of certain allotted services.

All these results are sent into a special office and plotted on to the diagrams by the checking clerks. These are compared one with another, and in this way pictures are composed of each route from end to end, or pictures are, composed c.f the results of all routes passing through a given street.

These pictures show not only the adequacy of the service, but also reflect the efficiency with which it is maintained. They are passed on to the Traffic Department for their guidance.

The Timing of a Route.

Repeated allegations have been made, by those who appear to be at all times hostile to motorbuses, to the effect that the vehicles are driven over many routes at unduly-high and unsafe speeds. It is deliberately stated that the company is responsible for this alleged state of affairs, and it was therefore very fitting that Mr. Stanley should go most carefully into the company's timing arrangements. In addition to the extracts which are now made, we may say that details of the timing were given for some 120 routes, both on weekdays and Sundays, and at times of

crush traffic, and comparatively-open traffic. Over and above these figures, the speeds in miles per hour, including the stops, were given for every route, and for three typical periods in the working day. Whilst we have not space to reproduce all these timings, we may say that they average but little above 8 m.p.h., point to point. Basis of Timing.

The timing of motorbusee is one of the most important points connected with the working of motorbuses with safety. The method of timing has been perfected with the course of years. It, had four stages in its history :—

First Stage, Average Speed.

1. In horse-bus days, times were worked out on the basis of six miles per hour on open sections of road, and five miles per hour on closed sections of road. With the advent of the motorbus the same system was continued, but the speeds were increased to nine miles per hour on the apse sections and six miles per hour on the closed sections.

Second Stage, Practical Test.

2. This theoretical basis did not work out well, and it was then decided to take praetical tests of the time occupied on the journey as a whole, and check the office figures by them. The final timing became the result of a compromise between theory and practice.

Third Stage, Determination of Intermediate Figures.

3. Objections arose on this second stage. A driver had only a poor idea as to the place which he was keeping in the schedule owing to the lack of intermediate times. If he thought he was late, he was tempted to hurry, and if he was early, he still proceeded to the stand and had a longer lay over. The effects of delay or accident could be covered up by working the reed, of a journey at a higher rate of speed. Recognizing the defects in the system, the company entered upon a fresh timing of all the services and the times at intermediate points were determined.

Fourth and Last Stage, Adjustment to Varying Traffic Conditions.

4. Various causes contributed to make this third timing unsatisfactory, such as the varying traffic conditions at differing hours of the day, and the varying speed capacity of the differing types of motorbus then employed. The whole question of the timing was reopened in 1911, and the timing of the routes worked out for three periods of the day, in the morning rush, throughout the day, and in the evening vii0). In order to simplify as much as possible these time schedules, the differing types of motorbus were collected together on to particular routes.

The Method of Timing Employed.

The method of tiniims as completed needs to he considered under two aspects ; firstly, from the aspect of an entirely new route; secondly, from the aspect of a route that is already being worked.

For a New Route.

For a route to be entirely new is something of a rarity. Commonly only part of a route is new. To commence with the distance is measured, and an inspection made to obtain a general idea of the traffic conditions to be encountered. On this a provisional time table is prepared, and, if necessary, a special circular of instructions to the drivers and conductors, calling attention to dangerous or exceptional points at which a reduced speed is thought desirable. Then the motorbuses commence to run.

On An Existing Route.

This leads to the second aspect. Immediately a motorbus service commences to run, arrangements are made to test. the

timing. These tests are taken by a representative of the

company (the foreman driver at the interested garage) and a representative of the men (selected for each garage). These men ride upon the front or inside motorbuses engaged in the ordinary operation of the route, and take complete logs of the journeys. Each representative acts independently of the other.

A Timing Committee.

The reports are then considered by a timing committee at headquarters and averaged out. This committee has attached to it three special inspectors who are sent out to take such supplementary tests as may be required to clear up any discrepancies in the records. In the end it issues an authoritative timing which, after being confirmed by the management, comes into effect for the route. The Timing Committee has become a permanent institution and is always available to consider and report on questions affecting its particular labour whether arising on representations of the staff, the public, or the management. The Sunday times are the same as the week-day times, except that the times applying before 9 a.m. on week-days apply throughout the day on Sundays.

The Average Booked Times Analysed into Speeds.

On 22 routes a speed of less than 8 miles per hour is expected during some parts of the day, and on 59 routes a. speed of less than 9 miles per hour. On 42 of these latter routes, the expected speed is less than 9 miles per hour at all times of the day. With five exceptions, all the booked times give less speeds than 10 miles per hour. These exceptions are the country routes to Windsor, Staines, St. Albans and Rumford.

Time Cards.

A specimen of the card issued to drivers showing the times of the trips to be performed by each bus with the lay-over times at each terminus is included, as well as a new type of time card giving details as to the timing on a particular route. Before the new type of time card was issued, " sticky. backs " were issued for every route to both driver and conductor, and they were to he stuck up at the front and back of every bus. This practice dates back to 1907, and in December, 1911, an entirely new series was issued.

Lay-over Times.

It may be stated that with whatever care the time allowed on a given route is fixed, it is not to be expected that it will be found exactly to fit the requirements of each trip. The exigencies of traffic on the streets and the number of passengers to be handled continually vary, and with them the time consumed in making the journey. To some extent the layover time is to be regarded as a margin left to ensure the punctual working of the motorbus and not only to meet the convenience of the staff.

Traffic Conditions as Setting up a Natural Speed Limit.

In taking testa for the purpose of checking lay-over margins, opportunity offered for examining the speed on short sections of road for comparative purposes. For instance, the average speed of working from Kingsway in the Strand to Liverpool Street was only 5.8 miles per ;lour against 8.2 miles per hour between Hammersmith Broadway and Kensington Church. Or, the average speed of working between Victoria and Marble Arch was 8.4 miles per hour against 10 miles per hour in the wide part of the Edgware Road between the Harrow Road and Kilburn. In Cheapside the average speed fell to as low as 3.25 miles per hour. It is a matter for interesting conjecture how far the provision of a statutory speed limit would have any effect in securing a better result. It seems evident that the safe speed of working is itself fixed by the volume of traffic and conditions of the road, except for those w.ho are heedless of these considerations altogether. A speed limit may not even deter them, By leaving the matter free, traffic is not hampered at times when the circumstances are easier.

Check on the Keeping of Time.

When the timing is laid down, the question arises as to the steps which are taken to ensure that it is observed.

The conductors, as part of their ordinary daily routine, are required to make out a running sheet showing the times at which the motorbus under their control leaves the terminals of the routes. To ensure accuracy in the filling in of these details, the running sheet is initialled by the timekeeper. The timekeepers themselves record the times of the motorbuses arriving at and leaving the stand or point to which they are allotted. On certa;n routes timekeepers are stationed at intermediate points, and this process of record is repeated. This record is returned daily to the Traffic Office, and examined with a view to checking the early and lute running of the buses and to inquire into the causes. On occasions the running sheets of the conductors on a given route are also examined for further information. Reports based on this information are sent to the Timing Committee. It may be said that it is the pactice of the company to censure drivers arriving at. points ahead of their schedule, but subject to a sufficient explanation there is no censure attaching to their being late on the schedule.

Late Running Uncommon. Lost Trips.

In a week in November last a record was made of the number of lost journeys. They numbered 220 out of 85,718, or .25 per cent. Of these only 17 or .02 per cent. were attributable to being so late on a trip as to throw the bus out of service, the others were due to breakdown or accident. That is, only in .02 per cent. of the journeys did the timing break down.

The arrangement for closing the working of a route at night is to allow a margin of five minutes beyond the time set out as the last time for a motorbus to commence a journey from that terminus. Until this margin has expired motorbuses are sent away at the correct service intervals. When it has expired all the remaining motorbuses, if any, are sent into garage. This does not apply to the country routes where the service is infrequent.

Hours of Labour and Conditions of Service.

No less interesting than any of our foregoing extracts do we find those which concern the hours of labour and conditions of service. It is clear, in connection with these, that the spread-over time is frequently ignored, and equally the fact that the relief men, who work a certain number of hours each side of their " off " period, are intended to go away from the company's premises during the intermediate hours. Furthermore, the extent of the standing or lay-over time at the terminals is shown to be adequate on every shift, and to vary according to the traffic and other conditions which obtain upon the particular routes. These margins of time, which the drivers have in hand over and above the frequently-checked times that are allowed for actual running, vary per shift from so little as 49 minutes on some of the routes to as much as 2 hrs. 28 min. on others. We have not space to reproduce all the details.

The question of spare men is fully investigated, and comparisons are established, as well as proportions of service to the whole service, with regular men.

The present system of arranging shifts of duty and reliefs was introduced in August of last year and is in force on 65 routes out of a total of 74.

It applies to both drivers and conductors. The system involves the use of three drivers and three conductors for each two motorbuses on a service. These men work three shifts as follows :— 1. Early shift.

2. Late shift.

3. Relief shift.

Comparative Amount of Work Done by the Motorbuses and the Men.

The problem of keeping the motorbus in motion while allowing for the need of rest for the men is solved by allowing each man to undertake only part of the daily work of a bus. Under horse conditions it was a usual practice to allow both man and bus to work the whole day together. The performance of the two factors may be compared in the results for 1912. The average weekly mileage of the motorbus was 804, and of the driver 417 throughout the year. That is the driver worked only 52 per cent, of the motorbus mileage, and averaged 60 miles per day.

The Previous System of Arranging Shifts of Duty Under the older system the bus was laid up on the stand during the meal-time reliefs of the men. The early and late shift men worked right through in one turn of duty, only the relief shift man changed buses and came off for a long interval. Under this system the lay-over times were 20 to 30 minutes. Under the new system the reliefs are secured by changing the men on the bus while the bus keeps running. That is the difference.

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