The Vindication of the Motorbus.
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Further Extracts From and Comment Upon Mr. Albert H. Stanley's Evidence Before the Select Committee of the House of Commons.—(contd. from page 211.)
Proceeding to deal with general traffic considerations, the essential factors connected with large additions to the areas that are served were next brought before the notice of the Committee.
Area Covered by Motorbus Routes.
The area covered by motorbas routes is a very wide one, and tends to become co-terminons with the area which really constitutes London as having one centre and one interest. It is an area which takes no cognizance of political or other artificial boundariesThe Metropolitan Police area, which comprises the whole or part of five counties, is to be regarded as a single area for motorbus operation. The routes, at the present day, extend into two further counties, making seven in all. This total area is parcelled out among 39 cities, county or municipal boroughs, 45 urban district and 11 rural districts, 80that there are altogether 95 local authorities concerned in their operations now.
The Motorbus Routes of Extra London.
The length of roadway covered by services of motorbuses was in March of this year as follows:— ROUTE MILEAGE.
.E A d g MARCEL 1513. ,E o
.E0 03 ?g R,S3 4-6 3as gB g Weekday--• 216 62 135 38 351
Sunday ... 211. 51 199 49 410 Or this point may be illustrated another way. Of the routes in operation on a weekday only 27 out of 73 are wholly confined within the borders of the administrative county of London, that is 37 per cent. The remaining 63 per cent. cross the borders into the adjacent counties, Useful on Sundays.
It has been one of our favourite themes, when comparing the claims of motorbuses with those of tramcars, to enforce the important bearing upon the health interests and welfare of the working community as a whole of the facility with which motorbus routes can be changed on the occasion of holidays and rest-days. It is an inherent fault of any tramcar system, that those who have to labour in the cities throughout the week cannot turn these costly conveyances to account on Saturdays and Sundays, by reason of the fact that the tramcar is bound to the track. That track, of necessity, must serve the business and industrial centres on at least 54days in the week, and on the Saturday afternoons and Sundays, it cannot be transferred to the outer and country areas when it is really wanted there by the populace. We are pleased to see that Mr. Stanley made the following incidental reference to this matter.
The London General Omnibus Company is providing services of motorbuses for the newer suburbs springing up on the fringe a London. Some of these services, or more correctly some of the extended sections of these routes, are being worked at unremunerative rates of earning, and are of a pioneer character, helping in the development of a territory which may prove to be a remunerative field of endeavour in the future. The London General Omnibus Company is also providing services of motorbuses into the country which are of great benefit in affording opportunity for healthy recreation and change of air. These are run at comparatively cheap rates of fare_
The Motorbus Routes of the Central London Area.
The problems of how to secure the best and fullest use of the congested streets in the inner and central zones of any city, of overlapping services, and of the rendering of effective services to the members of the travelling public who desire to go long distances, were next put forward. We quote practically the whole of this portion of the evidence in full.
The congested central area of London depends upon the motorbus for its surface transport facilities almost entirely.
Having regard to the lay-out and width of the streets and to the volume of traffic which they have to bear, it is generally recognized that the motorbus on account of its accommodating character is the most satisfactory type of vehicle.
There is not a single route worked by motorbuses which exactly parallels a tramway route and affords no new facility. In every case the motorbus route either links up districts not served by a through tramcar service or overlaps the tramway route at its inner or outer ends or both.
The Overlapping of Tramway Terminals.
It is not a practicable proposal to work motorbuses in such a manner that they should not overlap a tramway route. At the termini of the tramway routes on the border of the inner zone of London to transfer the passengers from the one to the other system of traction would render the streets impassable with the numbers of people and the turning back of two sets of vehicles. Observations have been taken at two points to illustrate that the flow of traffic is across these terminals. For instance, at Aldgate Church, in two hours in the morning, 123 motorbuses passed into the City each with an average load of 20 passengers, 71 per cent. of whom came from beyond on the tramway area, and 29 per cent. joined at the tramway terminus, chiefly to complete their Journey. At Hampstead Road corresponding figures show that 71 motorbuses passed into the Tottenham Court Road with an average load of 24 passengers, of whom 77 per cent. came from beyond, and 23 per cent, joined chiefly to complete their journey. Photographs which give the two sides of the tramway picture, the long string of cars filling up the tracks and the long queue of intending passengers, more vividly indicate the real meaning of the figures given in this paragraph. [These are reproduced on pp. 240 and 241.—En.] Nor is it practicable to work motorbuses in such a way as to act purely as feeders to tramway routes at their outward extremities. In the first place the necessity to change cars is a deterrent to the free flow of traffic. In the second place feeder routes of this kind, working solely in thinly populated country, cannotbe profitable, they only become profitable when they contribute traffic to a longer and more frequented passenger route.
Need of Services Supplementary to the Tramway Services.
We are afraid that we cannot fully agree with Mr. Stanley in the following references. Motorbuses do not, we think, call for admission to our thoroughfares because they can supplement the tramway services. The modern vehicle can do all that is required alone, and can make good" on its own merits, We consider that he was altogether too moderate in his statements hereanent, but this was no doubt due to reasons of ,policy. The Committee before which he was appearing was certainly not constituted to listen to suggestions for the abandonment of tramways.
In reading these extracts, we trust that supporters of THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR will keep before them the outstanding fact that the same number of 70-seated tramcars in London carries a total of passengers per day which is only 18 per cent, greater than the total which is carried by a like number of 34-seated motorbuses. The suggestion, frequently repeated by protramcar enthusiasts, that double the number of motorbuses, is required to carry the same number of people, is based upon at least two false premises. The fallacies are these : (a) that the vehicles should be measured when they are at rest ; (b) that they are always full when travelling. Neither of these conditions is fulfilled in practice, and the fact remains that 2700 motorbuses can carry 1,800,000 passengers per day, whilst the same number of double-seatingcapacity tramcars can only carry 2,200,000 passengers per day. We admit the uncertain factor of different lengths of the passenger-trip.
It is the opinion of the witness that the tramway system is not capable of carrying all the traffic of the streets without the assistance of the motorbus system, The volume of traffic which can he operated over a set of tramway lines, is limited by the volume which can be carried at the decisive points.
Such a decisive point is 'Westminster Bridge. Over this bridge pass 13 different services to such places at. Woolwich, Peckham, Dulwich, Norbney, Norwood, Tooting, _lerton, and Wandsworth. Statistics show that. this is the heaviest tram service of any point in London. Yet at one of the busiest hours of the evening, viz., 6.0 p.m.-7.0 p.m., the seats provided by the tramcar services over the bridges south hound amounted to 7722, of which 6920 were occupied. In the same hourthe motorbus service over the bridge carried 2278 passengers or a surplus of 1476 over the full seating capacity of the tramway service. Again in the Commercial Road, E., between 7:30 11..M. and 9 a.m, the same result obtains with regard to the inward traffic. The seating capacity of the tramcar services was 4304, of which 4098 seats were occupied. In the same period the motorbus services carried 1403 passengers or a surplus of 997 over the full seating capacity of the tramway service. Upon the same road similar conditions prevailed over a period of 31 hours from 6 p.m. to '9.30 p.m., the surplus of passengers over the full capacity of the tramway service being 1636. These examples illustrate this point of the need of some service auxiliary at. least to the tram service.
The Ability of the Motorbus to Lift the Tramway Traffic.
The densest service in connection with the tramways is at Westminster Bridge, but this is in the nature of a terminal point upon which, as set out above, many roads converge. The London Road, S.E., is a better example, and the maximum number of trams in one direction at the busiest hour is 166 carrying 10,079 passengers. The number of motorhuses required for this load would be 237, which is little in excess of the number at the Marble Arch (261), or between Bond Street and Oxford Circus (235). The London Road is 41 ft. in width.
Relative Efficiency of the Seating Capacity of Tramcar and a Motorbus.
The results dealt with in the preceding paragraph assume that the tramway service loads to its full capacity. This is very far from the reality. Assuming that the average distance a passenger travels by tram or by bus does not -vary, by dividing the miles run into the number of passengers carried, one can determine the relative load which each class of vehicle carried. The figures show that the average number of passengers per mile on the tram was about 10.5 and on the motorbus about 8. These figures need to be brought into relation with the seatingcapacity of the respective vehicles. A tramcar seats 78 passengers; a motorbus only 34. The relative efficiency of the motorbus to the tramcar is almost as 2 is to 1.
Aspects of Operation Favourable to the Motorbus.
In order to accommodate the same number of passengers, it is admitted that more motorbuses than tramc.ars would be required, but the effect which the additional vehicles must. have upon the user of the streets must, apart from the obvious fact of difference in size, be considered in relation to three other facts; 1. The fact just illustrated that the actual operating efficiency of the motorbus is almost twice, that of the tramcar.
2. The fact that the motorbus distributes itself over many streets, which, in addition to spreading the flow of traffic into many channels, provides a greater public convenience.
3. The fact that, as hown in the Report of the London Traffic Branch of the Board of Trade in 1912, at page 36, the comparative speed of the motorbus and the tramcar favours the motorbus, due to their less frequent stops and their greater freedom of movement which prevents their impeding one another.
The efficiency of a vehicle engaged in dealing with the passenger traffic of London streets turns on a great many factors, There is not only the seating capacity, but the extent to which that seating capacity is put to
use. There is riot only the speed of working, but the accommodation which can be afforded to the other traffic of -the street. Finally, the motorbus is an independent and self-contained traffic unit capable of movement wherever it soay require or be required to go at any time and under any circumstances.
Priority in Time of Different Forms of Passenger Transit.
One often hears, again from the pro-tramear school, that motorbuses should never have come upon the highways which are served by electric tramcars. Mr. Stanley very rightly, but again very moderately, directed attention, as we had done on many earlier occasions in this journal, to the fact that the motorbus is the legitimate successor by purchase of the horse.omnibus interests.
Another question upon which comment has from time to time been made is the priority of the various forms of transit in the street. The common order has been Horsed public carriages.
Horsed trams. Electric trams. Motorbuses.
But from a search in the old records of the Company there are exceptions of all kinds. For instance, the motorbuses were working in the Fulham Palace Road, the roads between Brixton and Herne Hill, the Finehley Road to North Finchley, the Battersea Bridge Road, and the roads between Acton and Hanwell, and the St. George's Road, S.E., before the tramways came into the road at all, and there are several of the main roads of London now fully occupied by motorbuses, such as the Edgware Road and the Finehley Road, into which it is sought to introduce trams. There has been as much almost of disturbance of motorbuses by trams as of trams by motorbuses, and both have ruthlessly supplanted the horse-bus.
The Motorbus as Successor in Title to the Horse, bus.
The point has not so far been emphasized before this Committee that the motorbus is the only legitimate successor of the horse-bus, and that the horse-bus was withdrawn in its favour after a career of great usefulness when it alone was engaged in the public service. The Company is still the same, the organization is the same; the only change is in the method of locomotion.
Objection has been taken to the motorbuses running alongside the trams, but the bus has the prior right. Objection has been taken to tram and bus stopping at the same points, but the bus originally fixed those points and established their reputation for traffic. Objection has been taken to some of the conditions attaching to motorbus operation such as the hours of duty, but these date back to the horse-bus and were developed to meet the wishes of the men. Everywhere in dealing with the questions arising on the motorbus one finds the vestiges of a lengthy history referring back to the horsebus.
The Break-up of Streets and its Effect on Motorbus Operations.
The extraordinary amount of obstruction, due to track repairs, apart from that caused by the obstruction of tramcar traffic itself (which the Board of Trade places at 10 for electric tramcars compared with 3 for motorbuses), was the next matter for which the attention of the Committee was invited. It cannot too often be repeated, that this obstruction to the free use of the highway is a grave menace to the commercial community as a whole. It requires only one hour per day to be lost by 50,000 commercial vehicles of all classes, with an average working value of 3s, per hour per unit, for the whole revenue of the L.C.C. tramcars to be exceeded by the loss to the owners of ordinary wheeled vehicles. We venture to think that proper investigation would show that our suggested sum-figure of losses to the commercial community, which losses arise from the obstruction for which electric tramcars are responsible in London, is a low one.
The Report of the Royal Commission on London Traffic in paragraph 172 of Volume I, at page 85, refers to the inconvenience caused by the breaking up of the public streets, and points out the magnitude of the number of authorities and companies that possess this power. This inconvenience is especially felt by the motorbus companies. Some of the authorities give notice of their intention to break up the street, and if the period of dislocation is to be of much duration, arrangements are made for the temporary diversion of the routes. Other authorities, and particularly the companies empowered, give no such notice, and diversions can ■ Nrilv be made haphazard when the circumstances become known. Irregular diversions a route not being covered by the time schedules and other details of operation, are apt to involve a greater risk of accident. They also call into sudden requisition by-streets, where the presence of the motorbus is unfamiliar.
Other Derangements of Motorbus Routes.
Derangements of motorbus routes are also occasioned by. fires, demonstrations, processions and other events. In seine cases the police issue instructions with regard to them; in other cases the conveniences of operation suggest them. It is a matter of comment that the motorbus is able to meet these chances of the streets without being compelled to withdraw its services altogether, owing to its capacity to shift its course without difficulty from street to street. The breakdown of a motorbus does not have the effect of deranging the service. If it can be moved, it is usually shunted into a side street out of the way and left to be picked up by the garage lorry. Each garage has a lorry attached to it equipped with jacks and tackle capable of
handling and clearing away a motorbus. Except for the omission of the trips of the motorbus falling out cf action, the remainder of the service works on without interruption.
Mr. Stanley then put in a complete catalogue of the whole of the routes in London, at that date 109 in number, with particulars of the numbers of motorbuses employed upon them, on weekdays and Sundays, with the lengths of the routes in miles, and sundry remarks in relation to extensions, curtailments or withdrawals on Sunday. We do not reproduce these (pages 28-32 of the evidence), but we content ourselves by giving the concluding summaries from this section of the evidence.
Total number of omnibuses required for service on Source of Particulars Analysed.
The facts as dealt with in the succeeding tables have been ascertained from a perusal of the notes of the inquest proceedings kept by the London General Omnibus Company which may be regarded as more impartial than the reports of the company's own staff concerned.
In cases of doubt the coroner's depositions have been obtained, and from them doubtful points have been cleared up so far as possible.
Fatal accidents occurring in connection with motorbuses of other companies worked by the London General Omnibus Company are included in the tables.
The foregoing totals are next analysed. One table shows the age, sex and condition of the persons killed, and from this it appears that 39 per cent. of the total number ot persons killed in each year were of tender age, whilst 13 per cent, in each year were of such a mature age that it might reasonably be inferred that they were beset by the infirmities usually consequent thereto. These together account for 52 per cent, of the total fatalities.
Of the 48 per cent. of persons killed in each year who from their age might fairly be taken to be able-bodied and competent, a further inquiry shows them to be attlicted thus:—
These figures, it is submitted, are not complete. as at inquests the question of intoxication, where the circumstances are not patent., is not particularly pressed out of a respectful sentiment for the deceased.
It is recognized that there is a duty to exercise especial care on behalf of the young, the aged and the infirm, and that such figures as these afford no excuse in themselves. As the law stands:— " Persons on foot even if infirm have a right to he upon a highway and are entitled to the exercise of reasonable care on the part of persons driving vehicles upon it, but they are not exempt from a duty to take care of themselves. The amount of care reasonably to be required of them depends upon the usual and actual state of the traffic and on the 9aestion whether the foot passenger is at a recognised crossing or not."
Further it is suggested that the requirement of extra care on the part of the driver must depend upon his knowledge of the condition of the pedestrian. That is to say, it can only arise when defect is apparent. Nevertheless, it is striking that so large a proportion of the fatal accidents occur to those who by nature or neglect are unfitted to the conditions pertaining to a busy street. It is noticeable that only 12 per cent. of the children or young people killed are girls.
Unoccupied Londoners Suffer Largely, whilst h lag d Visitors Practically Escape.
Another interesting feature is that, taking the records for the years 1911 and 1912, a very large per. centage of the fatalities occurred to people who are classified as "unoccupied." No fewer than 58 deaths out of 117 in 1911, and 79 out of 158 in 1913, were those of unoccupied persons. These, obviously, were in the streets with a considerable amount of spare time on their hands.
The residences or places of business of all the persons killed were within the London area, with only one exception each for the years 1911 and 1912. As Mr. Stanley states : "The inference to be drawn from this is, that the visitor and stranger within the gates exercises adequate care for his own protection, and is not grown careless like the permanent resident."
(To be contiwzied.)