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Two Main Causes of Higher Costs

21st December 1951
Page 37
Page 37, 21st December 1951 — Two Main Causes of Higher Costs
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Peak-hour Problem and Reduction of Population Per Acre on Housing Estates Increase Expenses of Municipal Bus U ndertakings

TWO outstanding reasons for the increasing cost of passenger transport were given, last week, by Mr. R. H. Addlesee, M.Inst.T., general manager of Wolverhampton Transport Department, in a paper, " Municipal Passenger Transport," which he read to the Institute of Traffic Administration in Birmingham.

The most serious cause was the evergrowing peak-load problem, resulting from the general operation of a working day from 8 am, to 5.30 p.m., and from early shop closing.‘ It had been impossible to persuade employers to stagger hours.

The other outstanding problem resulted from the reduced population per acre on the new housing estates. Longer distances had to be travelled to collect a given number of passengers. The layout ofmany estates tended to reduce overall speeds, and costs were in inverse ratio to speed.

There were many ways in which an undertaking could be assisted from outside. Mr. Addlesee wished for a further relaxation of Section 19 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, governing the hours of employment of public service vehicle drivers. These did not apply to tramcar and trolleybus crews, and motorbuses were at a disadvantage when operators were planning economic schedules.

Costly Procedure

The production of certified annual accounts should suffice when applying for fares variations. It should not be necessary to complete, at high cost, complicated documents before a case was heard.

Long delay before the Ministry of Transport arrived at a decision on fares increases for tramcars and trolleybuses created additional losses and made further applications inevitable. Decisions should be given in the same time as it took Licensing Authorities to decide motorbus applications.

Service frequency of motorbuses could not be changed at the discretion of the operator, as was the case with tramcars and trolleybuses. A change in the relevant regulations should be carefully considered. Closer co-operation with the employees' organizations might enable standing time to be reduced. One vehicle saved represented reduction in wages of well over £1,000 per annum.

The morning peak load could be eased in some places by a variation of school hours. A change of 15 minutes could be of appreciable assistance.

Referring to the fuel tax, Mr. Addlesee said he could see no reason why the public transport industry should be the means for passing on to the man in the street another heavy indirect tax, or why public transport should necessarily pay the same rate of fuel tax as the private car.

Labour Turnover Municipal employment could no longer offer the advantages, compared with industry, of the pre-war days. The percentage of intake and wastage constantly increased; in Wolverhampton.

before the war, the average driving experience exceeded 10 years, but now it was less than 18 months. Training costs were high.

Flooding the roads with an increasing number of vehicles at busy times raised costs. Quicker turnround could help, but more ambitious remedies were needed. The experiments in Glasgow with the new single-decker accom modating 27 seated passengers and 35 standing might go a long way towards easing the situation, but there were two possible difficulties. Small roundabouts in one-way side streets did not encourage the use of 30-ft. vehicles, and difficulties might arise in collecting fares.

Enlarging upon the latter theme, Mr. Addlesee said that it was high time that

the obligation under private Acts to provide workmen's fares should be removed. Individual action could not bring redress and he was glad to see a group of Welsh operators making a collective effort.

Everyone should pay fares according to a standard structure, Which should not be varied according to the age, sex or occupation of the passenger. Simplified fares structures, possibly on a zoning system, opened up immense possibilities. American operators had been able to reduce costs and manpower by using one-man buses and working them on this principle.

Mr. Addlesee suggested that the prac tice of charging a 2d. minimum fare, similar to that adopted after the 1914-18 war, would be helpful.

Road passenger transport was much more personal than electricity or gas and of much greater local than national importance, Mr. Addlesee hoped that local authorities would not lose their transport undertakings. He would like to see municipal ownership not extinguished, but extended by any area scheme that was introduced. Joint boards of local authorities, including those that did not now operate passenger transport services, should be responsible for local services, leaving any area organization to operate the long-distance ,routes.

In answer to a question during the discussion, Mr. Addlesee said that the Glasgow experimental single-decker, by virtue of its rear entrance and front exit, would, it was hoped, decrease loading and unloading times and thus raise the average speed of all the traffic. The standing capacity might prove to be greater than that quoted, and the total capacity would then approach that of a double-decker.

Dictating Terms

Several members asked pertinent questions about the peak-load problem. Mr. Addlesee admitted that it was not possible to force staggered hours on existing factories, but when new factories were started, the undertaking could state the terms on which a transport service would be provided. If the service offered were not acceptable, suitable arrangements might be made with a private operator. Services could always be provided at peak loads at a cost which would have to be met by the workmen and the workmen's wives.

Concession fares at off-peak periods could not be offered until a new basic rates structure had been evolved. Factories in the Wolverhampton area operating a "complete shift system" were provided with a service with a minimum of difficulty and at a low operating cost.

On the subject of trolleybus maintenance costs, he stated that the replacement of major electrical components represented a large financial outlay, compared with which rising motorbus costs were negligible.

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