Motor Traffic in London.
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The adjourned conference of Metropolitan Local Auflierites on the above subject was held on Wednesday, the 9th instant, at the Westminster City Hall. There was a good attendance of delegates.
Councillor J. S. Rubinstein (Kensington) presided, and submitted the report of the committee, which was published in last week's "Conareecter. Moecat." Ile explained that the only real question of substantial difference amongst the committee appeared to be as regards speed. So far as he could gather hem the discussion, no one had any hostility to motorbuses; It was generally agreed that they were exceedingly ussfill vehicles and should have consideration in the traffic arrangements of London. With regard, however, to the speed at which they should be run, the representatives of the central boroughs favoured a limitation of speed. (A delegate : " No ; the City of Landoll.") The City of London had a limit of speed* already, and the representatives on the committee of Holborn, Westminster, and Kensington favoured a limitation. to 10 miles an hour. The representatives, however, of the outlying districts, the inhabitants of which had a desire, of course, to get as speedily as possible to and from the centre, supported 12 miles an hour, the present rate. Suggestions were thrown out that each particular borough might regulate the speed of motor omnibuses within its boundaries, but there was an obvious objection to this, inasmuch as some roads were half in one borough and half in another, and no driver could recollect in passing, say, from the extreme west to the extreme east, where the various boundaries were. With regard to the definition of routes, a recommendation was almost unanimously carried, leaving that matter in the hands of the Commissioner of Police, who would also regulate the number of omnibuses plying along any particular route or thoroughfare. One particular question which was not thrashed out, owing to its difficulty, was the matter of skidding, although ho the speaker) was of opinion that any person who put a vehicle upon the public roads Should do so at his own risk. There was no real difference of opinion on the committee with regard to traction engines, which did not appear to have any friends. At present there were a number of lumbering, noisy, dirty machines of this character whith ought to be scrapped.
Upon the motion for the adoption of recommendation (1) : "That the Commissioner of Police should be empowered to define the routes along which motor omnibuses should be . allowed to run, and also to regulate the number of omnibuses plying along any particular route or thoroughfare," Councillor the Hon. W. Sidney, J.P. (Mayor of Chelsea), moved, as an amendment, that after the word "run" the following words should be inserted: "And the hours during which the service should be maintained." He contended that there was no necessity for omnibuses to run after 12 o'clock at night.
Councillor E. Stopford Jones (Westminster) seconded the amendment, and Councillor J. Vesey-Fitzgerald, K.C., J.P. (Kensington), who had moved the original resolution, said he was willing to accept the amendment.
Alderman E. H. Tripp (Finsbury) opposed the amendment, and said that, in his opinion, even the original resolution was too drastic, because it placed too great a power in the hands of the Commissioner of Police. In several parts of London, motor omnibuses were competing with the L.C.C. tramways. If there was a congestion of traffic, the Commissioner of Police could not interfere with the tramways, because he had no power to do so, and he, therefore, might be tempted to prohibit the motor omnibuses, and so act prejudicially to private enterprise.
Alderman Saint (Islington), following on the same side, said they did not desire to make England a Russia by putting too much power in the hands of officials. As Alderman Tripp had well pointed out, the local authorities had no desire for a system to be set up which might work in a way to give a preference to state-aided trams over motorbuses run by private euterprise. The best criterion as to the hours for running motor omnibuses was to leave it to the proprietors themselves, for they might be certain that the compairies would not run buses if they were not required and patronised.
On a division, the amendment of Councillor the Hon. W. Sidney was rejected by 19 votes to 6.
Councillor Spriggs (Hampstead) moved, as a further amend• inent, the omission of all words after the word "run." He argued that it would be unsafe to put in the hands of the police an autocratic power to regulate the number of omnibuses plying along any particular route.
Councillor H. Thomson Lyon (Westminster1, in seconding the amendment, said that what was proposed would put in the hands of the police powers to create monopolies. If a company had a monopoly on a particular route, it could make its own terms as regards fares, and also could prevent an improvement of the vehicles. As an instance of how the public patronage worked under the present system, he pointed out that, although the route from Knightsbridge to Hammersmith had been tried by motor omnibuses, there was not now one of these vehicles running. Left to themselves, the companies would find out and meet the demand. If there was no demand, the running would soon cease. 11. T. Johnson (Hammersmith), in supporting the amendment, pointed out that the recommendation, as it originally stood, might tend to the undue advantage of railway companies. Councillor Henry James (St. Pancras) deprecated the introduction into the diseussion 'of the question of the L.C.C. trameeays, arid said that, whilst he did not wish to impede the motor eeminibuses, he considered them a great nuisance and a danger. (Oh, oh and laughter.) They should remember that every motor was built for profit—(hear, hear!)—and the man who owned it put it on the best route for making money. (Laughter.) Therefore, they had a congestion on some routes, Councillor J. Wilkins (Finsbury', referring to an observation of the last speaker, that he had seen three motorbuses on Aop of each other" in the Tottenham Court Road, said this *as certainly unusual. On a division, Councillor Spriggs' amendment was carried by 21 votes to 5. Alderman Tripp moved a further amendment, to insert after tht word "empowered," the words : "after consultation with theCity or Borough Councils."
Councillor James (St. Pancras), in opposing the amendment, said that some of the boroughs, like Islington, would support anything now which favoured motor omnibuses as against the L.C.C. tramways. The only way of securing continuity of ..policy would be to leave the matter in the hands of the police. 'Alderman Saint said it was rather strange to find a member the Progressive party; which always advocated government er. the people, favouring the placing of all power in the hands of officials. He (the speaker; was in favour of letting the people govern themselves.
The amendment was carried by 22 votes to 2.
Councillor Thomson Lyon moved a further amendment to put in the words "and other" after the word "motor," but this amendment was rejected as being out of order.
Finally, the first recommendation was adopted in the following form "That the Commissioner of Police should be empowered, after consultation with the City and Borough Councils, to define the routes along which motor omnibuses should be allowed to run."
Recommendation 2 was adopted, as printed in last week's t".COMMERCIAL MOTOR," with a small verbal alteration.
Alderman Saint moved a new resolution as follows: "That, in the opinion of this conference, it is incumbent upon the Commissioner of Police to exercise the greatest possible care in licensing drivers, in order that no unqualified driver may be employed, and that the safety of the public shall be ensured. The motion was agreed.
Councillor the Hon. W. Sidney moved: "That this conference approves of the line of action taken by the Commissioner of Police in regard to the licensing of motor omnibuses." He had a very difficult task to perform, and he had performed it with patience and impartiality.
Councillor Thomson Lyon, in seconding the motion, said that he was sure the Commissioner had performed his task admirably. There were at present 200 omnibuses waiting for licenses, because they did not come up to the standard laid down in respect of noiselessness.
Alderman Tripp said he wished to know what was the object of the motion. If it was a mere compliment, he would not oppose it ; but, if it was to go to strengthen the hands of the Commissioner, as it were, and to encourage him to more drastic methods, he would certainly oppose it Councillor Spriggs, following on the same side, said he thought the motion was unnecessary. Alderman Saint also took exception to the motion, and it was finally withdrawn. Alderman Saint, in seconding a vote of thanks to the Chairman for presiding, congratulated him upon his change of view with regard to the motor omnibus traffic. His speech at the evening of the conference had been dead against motor mai. buses.
The Chairman: I pride myself on having an open mind.
The motion was adopted, and, after some formal business was transacted, the proceedings terminated.