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How a Road Transport Exec Resources. Possible Useful S
3uld Utilize ALL Transport
urther Opinions of Readers.
THE PRESENT DISTURBING situation in regard to the transport conditions, and the lack of facilities for the removal of foodstuffs' has been brought about, in the main, by the gradual concentration of all effort on the manufacture and shipment of munitions of war. It is aggravated by the depletion of the railway companies' rolling stocks, which have been reduced in order to provide mobility for troops and munitions behind the lines, by the withdrawal from all but munitions service of all the capable drivers of motor vehicles, and by the impressment of all the best. and most servicewl3le machines for either war or Government use.
The remedy, whatever be its final form, will have to be a drastic one ; no half-measures will do. Practically no relief can be afforded by the railways, as anyone who has been engaged upon the removal of goods by rail during the last year will agree. Almost the whole of the diminished rolling stocks of the companies is engaged upon munitions transport, for which purpose it is hardly sufficient. The only possible relief will be afforded by fully utilizing those facilities which can be afforded by commercial motors..
It will probably have to be given, to some extent at least, at a loss. That is to say' the cost of transport will have the effect, in many instances, of raising the ultimate price of the commodities to the consumer. That cannot be helped. It is an unfortunate result of lack of foresight. It may have to be met by the giving of subsidies. The last-named principle has already been conceded in the case of breadstuffs ; presumably the precedent so set can be followed. One thing is quite clear. The question of cost will have to be treated as a secondary one, and, therefore, the aspeot presented will be somewhat novel to most of those who are commercially minded and engaged. We have to consider the ways and means of utilizing to the best advantage all the resources in the way of road transport machinery which are at our disposal. The horse must be included in the category, but as he is probably, already being utilized to the limit of his capacity on the class of work for which he is by nature best fitted, viz., short haulage within town and city areas, it is clear that, in the main' very little improvement can he effected with horsed transport, except, perhaps, here and there, in some localities, in which cases the utmost benefit will probably accrue by local organization under the Food Committee of the district concerned. Immediate and useful effect in the required direction can only be attained by operating on a big scale, and for this the mechanically-propelled vehicle only can be of use.
There is, in all probability, an ample supply of motor vehicles in this country available for the purpose, sufficient, at least, to enable us to "carry on" very efficiently, if they were all in good order and kept fully occupied. From 10 to 30 per cent. are laid up owing to one or other of the following causes :—(1) Lack of work for them to do, owing to the main activitiee of their owners being curtailed as a result of shortage of material, lack of labour, etc. ; (2) shortage of drivers ; (3) lack of spare parts for repairs ; (4) shortage of fuel. Of the remaining 70 to 90 per cent., all but a negligible number run, for half their mileage, empty, and many of them, for a considerable portion of the reinaining half, are under light load. The remedy in the case of machines which are laid by and idle is surely simple. Presumably the owners D32
are managing, more or less satisfactorily, without -them. They can, therefore, be forthwith commandeered and put to good use with all speed, due consideration being had to the possibility, in individual instances, of inflicting hardship. Having commandeered them, it will be necessary to find drivers for them. For this work, in the majority of cases, women are fit. It would only be necessary, in the eaae of bulky loads, to provide labour, at terminal points, for loading and unloading. As the tendency would be to diminish, so far as possible, the handling of goods in transit, this should be a simple matter.
Attention was drawn in last week's issue of this journal to a possible and practicable redistribution of driving talent, which should serve materially to ease the situation at present prevailing. The strong, lusty driver, able to swing the crankcase of a large 40 h.p. engine and to pull up a heavily-laden lorry, is wasting his abilities driving a one-tonner, and lie should therefore be utilized on the bigger vehicles, leaving the smaller ohe to be handled by a woman or youth. This redistribution, however, is not to be expected to be introduced by the employers, except, of course, in those few cases where the fleet of vehicles covers a range of sizes and powers. A concern employing a good driver is not likely to be keenly enthusiastic about parting with him because, in the country's interest, he would be doing better service by driving a much larger vehicle, especially as the change would mean. that the 15-cwt. van, which had, for example, always been such a good advertisement for the concern, would have to be placed at the tender mercies of a woman or youth fresh from a school of motoring. But .a transport department with ample powers could effect such an interchange of talent, and, on balance, the result would be to the general good, as a 3-ton lorry formerly standing idle would now be pressed into service.
Those chassis which are laid by for lack of spares could, no doubt in many cases, be put in order quickly, and with slight disturbance of other important engineering work, provided that the repairs were given a priority classification sufficiently high. There are many small engineering firms who would not, in ordinary times, be considered capable of making motorcar spares, who could, nevertheless, execute work which would serve the immediate purpose of bringing back these derelicts to the road. By these means a very useful, if somewhat miscellaneous, fleet could be collected and rapidly put into service.
The provision of full loads for all vehicles at all times is a much more complex problem. In the case of those which habitually run half loaded, some system of co-operative delivery will have to be adopted, on lines which have already proved to be satisfactory in the case of fuel-oil distribution. The provision of return loads can only be achieved by the establishment of clearing houses in various important centres and by assuming complete control of the whole of the country's transport.
These are a few suggestions, on broad lines, of the directions in which useful steps could be taken. They can only be carried out after the establishment of a central department, with the fullest powers, and in the hands of a very energetic and efficient staff, who have a wide knowledge of traffic conditions, headed by a "Controller of National Transport:" who must, above all things, have a genius for organization. Pooling of Transport Not Feasible.
ISHOULD LIKE to make a few criticisms on your excellent article re transport in TEE CoissanneisL MOTOR of the 3rd January. That we are drifting to a state of complete chaos is undoubtedly true. however, I do not agree with your suggestion to create another Government department, or another set of officials to manage an admittedly difficult business. 1 have no hesitation in saying that, to place the management or organization of road transport into the hands of one person or department would be a gigantic blunder. Prior to the war, the transport was handled fairly well, and there was an extraordinarily small percentage of dead mileage. That a saving in this respect might be made by co-operation I do not doubt, but nothing like what your article would have us believe. A combination of circumstances has been the cause of the present position. It is well known that many fleets of vehicles were taken over by the Government at the• commencement of the war. Those firms who got them more or less replaced had to accept delivery of totally different types of vehicles. • Take our own case. Of our fleet, 80 per cent. consisted of 4 and 5-tonners ; to-day it is 80 per cent. of 2-ton or less. We have therefore been compelled entirely to re-organize our business. We mallet blame the Government for doing what they did, as they had to have the vehicles at once. Having re-organized our deliveries, our object has been to cut out all the waste mileage possible. The result is our vans leave in nearly all eases with full loads, and work in a circle or semi-circle, often doing 50 to 75 miles, calling upon the last customer when near home. ' We must also take into consideration the question of empties, often almost of as much value as the goods. The retailer is most anxious to get rid of these at the earliest possible moment, and will stipulate that only as many full packages are left as empties are taken away. Co-operation would be of little use, therefore, in our case. • My contention is that if the business had received the consideration that it should, owing to its national importance, the present muddle would not exist_ It is just as necessary to provide for distribution as to provide the necessaries of life.
This can very well be done by existing businesses, if they receive reasonable support from the present authorities. Facilities must he given for obtaining replacements, now almost entirely stopped ; sufficient engineers (badged) should be allowed for the maintenance of the cars in working order ; spirit requirements, after careful checking, should be allowed-, sufficient at least to carry out essential transport. In' the present system of allotting petrol, consideration is not given to whether the work is important or not. On our last permit we were cut down oneseventh, in spite of the fact that 85 per cent. of our cars are on carriage of food. The result from this and from various %uses is that 10 vehicles will be laid up—a very serious loss to ourselves and the country. There is abundant evidence daily to prove that one department will not tolerate any interference from another. I believe we have a Petrol Economy Officer now, and no doubt wastage in the Services is receiving consideration, but do not /et us urge formations of any more public departments. Pooling in"London is almost impossible. It is well known that users nearly all contract for their transport, which is in the hands of experienced firms, who have made a speciality of this work. London would require from 30 to 50 centres. Even then an attempt to pool would lead to considerable waste mileage— much more than at present—as the local contractor confines himself to the local manufacturer. Further, London is very different from most manufacturing centres, as, outside of a certain radius, there are no factories, although there are many important towns. W. F. Filisosi. (French's Garage. and Motor Works, Ltd.) All Transport Under a Director.
IHAVE BEAD your piper and am in agreement with it, but there is one side which I do not think you touch upon, and which constitutes a very important bra,nch of the transport serViee. I am speaking of canals. As you are doubtless aware, owing to the enormous number of vehicles which have 'been taken from the railways, there is considerable congestion upon the lines, and a great effort is being made to increase canal transport. It seems to me that after the -war, the Government will have to eo-ordinate railways, canals and main roads, and place them under a director of transport. I have for many years past advocated the taking over of these three services by the Government, and my experience as chairman of the Midland section of the Canal Control has convinced me that it is absolutely vital that, when conditions are normal once more, the railways shall be prevented from throttling the water transport. The only way in which this can be brought about is by means of Government control. The canals are capable of great improvement, and the introduction of the internal-combustion engines should have a great effect, though, of course, the canals are not generally of a design suitable for 'self propelled barges. H. Howaan HUMPRILEYS.
. UseExisting Transport to Fullest Extent. AS WHOLESALE distributors of food supplies and household necessaries over a large area in . s London and the Home Counties, the question of transport is one of vital importance to us. In the writer's opinion, the opening paragraph in the article of 3rd January puts the whole case in a nutshell. Those engaged in work of this nature realize that the best is not being obtained from the means at our disposal. It is obvious that, with the present shortage of so many articles of daily consumption, all available supplies should be spread over as large an area as passible, and this can only be carried out with the aid of motor transport. Judging from our own experience, the opposite view seems to obtain in official minds. They do not seem to have grasped the idea that existing means of distribution must be used to their fullest extent if the problem is• to be solved. We would welcome the formation of a department of transport to deal with this vital question; but the director of this should be a man of actual business experience and have full freedom of action. H. GADSDOW AND SONS, ETD., 11, B. GADSDON, Managing Director.