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Passenger Transport Between Cross-fire

23rd September 1960
Page 259
Page 259, 23rd September 1960 — Passenger Transport Between Cross-fire
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Are Municipal Bus Undertakings Business Concerns or Public Services? M.P.T.A. Conference

NEW aspects of the recurring question whether corporation transport is a form of trading, or a social service, came before the Municipal Passenger Transport Association's conference at Douglas last week. But the liveliest of the debates—on the subject of non-compliance with national wage rates—was at the Federation of Municipal Passenger Transport Employers' meeting, which was held in private.

The desertion from bus travel not only of fare-paying passengers, but also of transport staffs, came in for comment. Said Mr. A. F. Neal in his presidential address: " We must not forget the convenience of the private car—the convenience which encourages many of our own staff to use it, even when they could travel free on our vehicles."

Later speakers followed up this point. One observed that, as transport managers used their own buses rarely, it was not surprising to find passengers tempted away from public services if they were at all inconvenient.

Business Versus Charity

THE business-versus-charity angle came up when delegates discussed ND% Noel McDonald's paper. on " Rerouteing of Services as a Means of Combating a Deficit," a summary of which was given in The Commercial Motor last week. CUL C. R. Morris (Manchester) said that the paper suggested that the economic side was all-important, whereas he thought municipalities were providing a social service and he could not agree that financial considerations should be the deciding factor. Their job was to serve the communities in which they lived.

Go to the Passengei

Road transport had originally won much traffic from the railways by going to the passenger, observed Cllr. A. Logan (Mancheter). In that city they had in one area routes that were direct and others like a dog's leg. If the roundabout service were taken off, he suspected that he would soon find himself redundant.

With their diesel programme the railways were going all out to regain passengers which road transport at present had. Straightening out bus routes would mean an increasing trickle back to the stations.

The adoption in 1954 of a scheme similar to that of Warrington was recalled by Aid. F. W. G. Todd (Lincoln), Lobbying of councillors in favour of certain pockets of interest resulted in most of the services being reinstated in a short space of time. They ought to assert themselves properly as transport committees and their representatives should sit in when planning was under way. Perhaps the conference could put pressure on the Association of Municipal' Corporations to this end. He had referred back one plan that provided an almost impossible transport problem.

An alarming note had been sounded that morning, suggesting that efficiency and financial stability were somehow not synonymous with public service, said Mr. N. Morton (general manager, Sunderland). Mr. McDonald was trying to supply a public service by providing a sound economy.

Fare Increases Cause Losses

Courage and vision were needed to put such a scheme into operation, urged air. W. P. Taylor (Warrington). Fare increases simply took an undertaking deeper "into the red." It would be a sorry day for municipal transport if it went on the rates.

In Stockton-on-Tees, said Mr. W. C. Wilson, general manager, they had taken a service to the people by using a circuitous route, otherwise the customers would have been nearer to the company service, which might have meant a loss of revenue for the corporation. Cars were becoming more numerous even on council estates, which meant that the present passengers left to public transport were those to whom the services were a vital necessity.

Care had to be exercised in altering services. In one case an extra threequarters of a mile to a suitable turning point would have cancelled out all the advantages to be gained by the use of a on e-man-ope rated bus.

Replying to the discussion, Mr. McDonald said a manager could not be asked to give a social service and to make it pay at the same time. Cars, mo-peds and scooters, rather than the railways, were stealing their traffic. The services that •Warrington had left did not all pay, but the better ones carried the unremunerative routes and in this way the public was served. They had been able to cut the fleet from 91 to 72 buses and would be able to reduce the staff a little.

Big Garages Not Needed

GLASGOW'S general manager, Mr. E. R. L. Fitzpayne, disagreed with one of the points in the "Servicing and Maintenance" paper presented by Mr. E. V. Dyson (general manager, Huddersfield), saying that there were good economic reasons for not building large covered garages. Throughout Europe there was outside parking in climates much worse than that of Britain. An important point was that the whole of the bus should be heated, and not only the radiator, before going into service. He was doubtful about automatic lubrication, for a blockage in one of the pipes could lead to components being without grease for a long time.

Mr. J. C. Franklin (general manager, Blackpool) favoured lightweight trunking for vacuum cleaning; in his organization it had proved most effective. Every bus at Blackpool was of the same size and type so they could have automatic topping-up with ease. The device for this purpose had proved most reliable, He thought that 5,000 miles was too short an interval for changing oil in flat country.

Oil Changes Unnecessary?

Stockton had for years used a high quality oil with additives, said Mr. Wilson, and they were on a change period of 12,000 miles. Engines had run high mileages without trouble. One engineer of his acquaintance had said that there were engines in his fleet that had never been drained at all and their con

dition appeared the same as those treated at 12,000 miles.

Confirmation of Mr. Fitzpayne's comments on open-air parking came from Mr. T. P. O'Donnell (general manager, Ashton-under-Lyne), who said his undertaking had been troubled by the freezing of condensation inside the saloons. A warning on fire precautions came from Cllr. J. P. Smalley (Newcastle upon Tyne), a fire officer, who said that the fire risk on diesel oil should not be regarded as negligible. In every garage fire, trouble was caused by the impregnation of the floor with oils. Oil fuel, petrol and lubricant did not burn, but the vapour from them did so. He stressed the need for minimizing diesel fumes, in which he was supported by. Cllr. S. P. Hill (Nottingham), who urged the desirability of exhausts discharging at roof level.

[The meeting of the Federation is reported on page 248.]

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