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1st April 1924, Page 17
1st April 1924
Page 17
Page 18
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Details of the Successful Operation of a Fleet of Municipally Owned Vehicles.

IT stands. to the credit of Birkenhead that the first tramway undertaking in the country was successfully initiated in that town in the year 1860, the horse trams which were then used being super seded by electric traction about years• later. Despite this advance, new possibilities were opened up by the motorbus in the beginning of the war, when Parliamentary powers were sought and obtained, but owing to circumstances which intervened it was not possible to lay the foundations of the corporations successful motor omnibus enterprise until the beginning of 19113, since when developments have been rapid and continuous.

The corporation now has a fleet of 23. vehicles, and with the six new machines cmorder, and which will be delivered well in time for the summer traffic, the potential 'strength of its motorbus fleet is 29 vehicles.

Birkenhead is to the extreme end of to Wirral Peninsula what Liverpool is to South-West-Lancashire—au important junction for both passenger and goods transport, and surrounded by a rather sparsely populated district, with the important borough of Wallasey adjoining, there was, before the buses made their debut, an amazing lack of road travel facilities. To-day the district is well. served, for not only does the Birkenhead Corporation link up many of the then existing dead-ends, but it also runs crossservices over the busy traffic routes. With the Wallasey Corporation, for instance, an inter-borough bus service is maintained, which has proved of great utility.

Both corporations operate vehicles on the Birkenhead-Wallasey route—communications between these two towns are by no means convenient owing to the intervening docks Ei cl the absence of any direct road—to an agreed time-table, and each retains its own receipts. Outside Bkkenhead and Wallasey. are to be found the extensive services of the Grosville Motor Bus Co., Ltd., of Chester.

The mileage.s.of the routes over which the buses of the Birkenhead Corporation run are as follow :— Miles.

Rock Ferry and Moreton ... 6.44 Central Station (Birkenhead) and Upton ... 3.95 Charing Cross (Birkenhead) and Seacombe 2.75 Charing Cross (Birkenhead) and • Liscard . ... 3.12 Rock Ferry and Port Sunlight ... 2.55 Woodside (Birkenhead) and More ton ... 4.97

Birkenhead's first passenger motor vehicles, comprising four single-decker 32-seater Leylands, were put intoseFvice in July, 1919, when the Moreton and cross-town services were inaugurated. It should here be stated that there–are five dead-ends to the tramway system which radiates from the Woodside ferry, and the absence of any cross-communications obviously provided a good field for the operation of the buses. With the delivery of a further six Leylands new services became possible, and accordingly the following were started :—(1) Moreton to

Rock . Ferry ;. (2) Central Station to Upton; (3) Rock Ferry to Port Sunlight; and (4) Charing Cross to Wallasey. The used for more buses became very :pressing in 1921, and the corporation was able to acquire two 34-seater L.G.O. B-type vehicles, which were followed later by four Straker-Squires (32seaters), four Leylands (32-seaters) and, lastly, by a very handy vehicle, which during the last 12 months has ably proved its worth—a 20-seater Thornycroft one-man bus. With the exception of the last vehicle all the buses have rear entrances.

One of the novel fittings en the Thornycroft bus is an automatic changegiving machine, disposed te the left of the driver on the iron framework which is used when operating the folding doors. This unique mechanism is particularly serviceable for the one-man-type bus, for as will be readily perceived, although the vehicle may be used in thinly populated districts, the facility with which it may be loaded up depends upon passengers having the correct fare ready and the expeditious discharge of the duties of the driver-conductor.

By means of the change-giving machine, which, at the outset of a journey, is charged with coins of small values below half-a-crown, the work of the driver-conductor is reduced to a minimum so far as the handling of money is concerned. If a passenger tenders a florin for a 2d. fare, the conductor drops the coin in Isis bag and depresses keys on the.machine for is. 10d., and instantaneously the correct .amount of change drops into a box' from which the passenger extracts it. The machine is most efficient in use.

An analysis of the returns of the buses run by the Birkenhead Corporation for the last completed municipal year shows that the vehicles carried 2,585,750 passengers, who paid £38,616 in fares. The analysis of fares paid shows how popular are the stages under 6d. :-72,127 passengers travelled ld. stages, 780,989 2d. stages, 661,489 3d. stages, 373,747 4d. stages, 397,010 5d. stages, 140,091 bd. stages, 124,539 7d. stages, 17,774 88. :stages, 15,048 9d. stages, and 20,583 10d. stages. The scale of fares has latterly been rearranged on a lower basis for the longer journeys.

During the past. nine months there have been greatly increased receipts from the motorbus undertaking, and the improvement over the figures for the corresponding period saf last year is something like £5,0. As showing the difference between summer and winter traffic receipts, it may be Mentioned that the weekly income from fares in winter varies between £750 and X-850, as compared with from £1,000 to £1,200 in the summer, the buses working on exactly the same routes. On no route do the buses work more than a quarter of a mile from the tramway track.

The average number of buses on week day service is about 15, but on Saturdays, and at week-ends in the summer, every available vehicle is put into commission.

The Thornycroft One-man-controlled bus, which works on the Upton Park Station Charing Cross route, was purchased, Mr. Cyril Clarke, the tramway manager, informed us, expressly for use on that particular run, owing to the population of the district, being scattered.

"It justifies itself as a one-man-controlled bus," he told us, " and it also endorses our view that there was not sufficient traffic on that route for buses with separate drivers and conductors.

The Birkenhead Corporation does not publicly issue mileage returns concerning the passenger services, but we have extracted certain figures, which we give below, from the accounts for the last year's working of the omnibuses. Under the heading of expenditure the figure of £22,877 is given, this expenditura having been incurred under the three Main headings of traffic expenses, general expenses and expenses in eonnection with maintenance and repairs. In. the matter of traffic expenses, the chief items are : Petrol, £5,851; wages (drivers and conductors), £7,029 ; cleaning and oiling, £1,363. General expenses are ohiefly made up of those relating to rents and rates, accident, fire and other insurances, etc. Under the heading of maintenance and repairs £ 2,711 was spent on repair to chassis, £ 1,038 on repairs to bodies and lighting sets, and the .£742 on renewals of tyres. On the other side of the accounts the sum received in respect of traffic receipts was £38,436, the total receipts amounting to 238,514. It will thus be seen that the difference between the expenditure and income sides of the accounts is £15,637.


People: Cyril Clarke
Locations: Liverpool, Chester

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