OPINIONS and QUERIES
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The Present Licensing System a Failure.
The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL Mown.
 Sir,—I have read with much interest your recent leading article on the work of the Commissioners, particularly in view of recent correspondence which I have had lately with the Southern Traffic Commissioners,
I agree with your views that the present system fails lamentably, but you add that the end of this year should find matters on a much more satisfactory footing. I am glad you add the words "much more." It is a qualification with a distinction, as from the point of view of the public the present policy can never be satisfactory if the amazing attitude of the Commissioners to road facilities is continued.
I recently complained to the Southern Traffic Commissioners, Reading, that I and others had had to wait in the snow and ultimately walked to the station, due to the bus not arriving. I informed the chairman that before he came on the scene there were plenty of village buses operated by small men to take you to and from the station on wet days and drop you or pick you up at your door—these men were prepared to give personal service to their patrons.
Not one of these buses now operates.
I received a reply demanding answers to categorical tabulated qu6stions. No apology was made for my inconvenience, although, being, ostensibly, public servants, the Commissioners had to express a desire to investigate my complaint.
This, however, was strictly within true bureaucratic limits. I quote from the Chairman's letter:— " and if possible to put right anything which is not being done according to the licences granted by the Traffic Commissioners."
It does not need one moment's thought to know that any investigation within such narrow limits would be a complete waste of time.
It is clearly the settled policy of the Commissioners that the public does not count. It can wait for buses, walk, if the vehicles do not turn up, or otherwise go bong.
The public wants bus services, not one but as many as it can get.
It is time that the Commissioners put some heartsearching questions to themselves. If they think that. they are functioning in the interests of the public, then I want to know why they have "killed" numbers of small operators who gave the public personal service, and why they have drastically curtailed facilities on all sides.
For what reason should I and others have to walk home from the station on a wet winter's night because of any Traffic Commissioner appointed in the public interest?
It would be difficult if not impossible to find any single act of the Traffic Commissioners which can be regarded as in the true interests of the public. They have increased fares on bus routes, raised the prices of coaching trips—only recently the Southern or SouthEastern Commissioners insisted on an increased fare for a trip to the Zoo—made restrictive regulations in innumerable ways in connection with stopping, pickingup, workmen's factory or colliery services, etc.—all tending to make the use of passenger vehicles difficult and irksome to the travelling publie Part IV of the Road Traffic Act costs over £100,000 a year to administer, probably much more than this by now, as the tendency with all bureaucracy is towards an ever-mounting expense.
I see it is estimated that the Road Fund licenca receipts will fall about £750,000 for this, the first and best quarter of the year. More passenger vehicles are wanted by the public and are necessary to help maintain the roads. The more the roads are used the better for the community.
The tendency of the Commissioners to favour the large operator is again open to question on grounds of public interest. The big monopoly is usually unprepared to give any personal service, and due to the guaranteed position in which it has been placed by the Commissioners it can afford to neglect the interests of the public.
The whole position has reached such a state of stupidity that it is more like "Alice in Wonderland" than real life.
Something must be done to free the road vehicle from this huge incubus of restrictive regulations.
H. R, HOOD BARES.
Managing Director. For G. Scammell and Nephew, Ltd.
[We invite the Traffic Commissioners to make their own reply, jointly or separately, to the criticisms levelled against them by Mr. Hood Barrs. There can be no doubt that the Road Traffic Act of 1930 has exercised a very bad influence on the volume of passenger transport by road and has caused inconvenience in many areas ; it remains to be seen whether its ultimate effects will be beneficial or otherwise.—En.]
Heavy Penalties for Small Offences in the Irish Free State.
The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR.
 Sir,—I would like to give publicity in your journal to the unfair treatment to which road transport in the Irish Free State is being subjected. It is penalized to a far greater extent than was ever the case during the English occupation. Minor offences against the motoring laws, for which a nominal fine of 2s. 6d. would have been imposed in 1918, now result in a fine of £2 or more.
I was recently fined for using an Albion licence on a lorry which was alleged to be a Napier ; actually it was the identical Albion to which had been fitted a 1329 Napier radiator. In a similar way I was again fined for using an Albion licence on what was described as a Saurer, but it was actually an Albion eguipped with a Ha.11ford radiator. On no occasion did the Civic Guards lift the bonnet to look at the engine ; they simply looked at the radiator and put down as evidence just what they thought about it. Never in my life did think it an offence to change the radiator on a vehicle!
It is nothing to be prosecuted for not having licences for lorries which are actually lying dismantled in one's own premises. Most certainly owners Of road-transport vehicles are not helped very much to -keep going, they are hampered in every. way. DENNIS MADDEN. Dublin.
Benefits Claimed for the Licensing of Hauliers.
The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR, 13661] Sir,—As one of the earliest of your subscribers, I feel that a timely word on the trend of the haulage business will not come amiss to many who read each week your pages of opinions and queries. I am not now connected directly with the goods side of the transport business, but I know that the great canker is still the cutting of prices.
It is always stated that the rate cutter kills himself and throws burdens upon others who have stood him credit for materials supplied and repairs executed, but his place is always taken by another willing to "chance his arm" so that it is always possible, wherever my experience has led me, to get work done in the haulage trade at absurd prices.
There is only one remedy, and that is the same controt that the motor coach and bus business now has to face. As a passenger operator I could write reams of protest regarding the administration of the Act, but the principle is right and this year it will kill the ratecutter for good.
In making a regular feature of your Problems of the HaUlier and the continual use of your Tables of Operating Costs, you are gradually impressing upon the small man the fact that if he wants to compete and survive he must copy the methods of the larger operators. At present, throughout the kingdom, there is a surplus of operators of lorries up to 2 tons capacity, all hungry for work and ready to do almost anything to retain their vehicles and obtain a little cash.
It would be a good thing for all parties if some form of restriction were to be put upon any person purchasing vehicles and immediately setting up as a contractor, unless he can satisfy a responsible body that his services are necessary and his charges economic. In another direction also this would have a good effect ; every Paid driver knows of instances in his experience of lorries working with ineffective brakes, it has happened in the passenger business, but not so flagrantly since the advent of the inspecting officers.
In Dior opinion the principal cause of badly paid work has been that in the immediate past it has been so easy for anyone to obtain the use of a vehicle of up to 2-ton capacity on hire-purchase terms so that many men without experience and with no resources have been tempted into a business in which from the start they
were doomed to fail. G. R. Moons, Secretary, Eastbourne Motor Coach Association. Eastbourne
The Editor, THE COmMERciAL MOTOR.
[36621 Sir,—Many complaints in respect of ratecutting reach you from correspondents. I know it is quite common for owners to run even large vehicles at 30s. per day of 100 miles. .
This state of affairs generally goes on while the lorries are new, but the vehicles usually end up as scrap iron, because of the cheese-paring which has to be resorted to in every direction.
Many of the more Important fleet owners are not innocent of rate-cutting, and the only conclusion I can draw is that they work their vehicles in the same manner as the concerns who run multiple shops, where some of the shops merely take the money to cover expenses and others earn the dividends.
I consider that most of the trouble with the small man is due to the hire-purchase system, many plunging into ownership without knowing how much to chargé, and this is easily proved by the number of queries on the subject which are answered inThe Commercial Motor. It is advisable not to buy unless paying wark be available and promised, except in the case of the
haulier who has another business to help him along
until he can establish a connection, GREYBEARD. . London, W,.8.
Road v. Rail.
The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL .16.E0TOR'.
 Sir,—The railway companies of Great Britain have given wide publicity to a statement of the railway case which they recently placed before the Minister of Transport. It is important to remember that this is a purely ex parte statement and contains figures and suggests conclusions with which no independent authority who has studied transport conditions from a national point of view, would agree.
On February 8th was read a joint paper prepared at the request of the Institute of Transport by the director of the British motor manufacturers organization (Col. A. Hacking) and the Chairman of the Roads Improvement Association (Mr. Rees Jeffreys). It discussed the problem of road in relation to railway finance.
At this meeting, which was attended by experts interested both in roads and railways, the figures given. were checked and the conclusions drawn from them critically analysed.
It appears to this association that this is a better way of informing the government and the public on the finance of transport than the method selected by the railway companies. WAnnAex E. Rienn, General Secretary.
The Roads Improvement Association. London, S.W.9.
Railway Publicity for a Scheme 50 Years Old.
The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR.
[36641 Sir,---The removal trade is a trifle amused just now at the strenuous endeavours being made by railway companies to convince the public that the container for furniture removing is the latest invention of modern transport science. Reports have been widely circulated that on Monday last four of these furniture containers, on motor lorries, left Euston for a tour of the Midlands.
It is assumed that the object of this " circus " is to demonstrate to the householder the railway's most recent discovery. The suggestion of originality, although ingenious, is entirely remote from reality, because 50 years ago the removal trade was experimenting with the container for furniture transport by rail, and since then, particularly in the 20 years before road transport became a possibility, the container was extensively used and fully exploited. The railway companies have only changed the name from 'lift van" to "container." Speaking generally, the removal trade has, as a . result of long and unhappy experience, turned to the motor pantechnicon for its transport requirements, because it offers facilities vastly superior to the very old-fashioned method now being so energetically boosted by railway publicity specialists. Without being too critical of railway enterprise, we venture to point out the true facts to those interested.
F. W. H. WiNwoon, President. The Furniture Warehousemen and Removers' Association.