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The Beneficent Motor Omnibus.
The Editor, " THE COMMERCIAL Mcrroe."
Sir,—I have often read in your valued journal, as also in other publications, and have often heard it remarked in after-dinner speeches and on other occasions, that the public service motor vehicle would prove a great boon to agricultural districts, would tend to distribute population better, improve trade, and generally benefit residents of the districts through which the motor vehicles travel, and I had accepted those statements as perfectly correct and believed them. It is one thing, however, to believe a statement because it sounds as if it were true, and another thing to believe a statement because the truth of it has been forced upon you. And the truth of the assertion printed in your journal and elsewhere has been forced upon me during the last few days in a way that has made the deepest impression.
I have visited a little Sussex village, which is very well known to me and which is four miles from the nearest railway station. It is charmingly situated in one of the most picturesque spots of a county not wanting in natural beauty, and this village has, ever since I have known it and over a period very much anterior to that, been to all intents and purposes cut off from modern life and conveniences, for the simple reason that it is four miles from a railway station. Unless one was young and had a bicycle, or was well off and kept a carriage, the business of getting to anywhere beyond the confines of the village was an elaborate and costly proceeding. The fly had to be ordered either by letter or telegram from the neighbouring town, and could not always be procured then. Again, the cost of getting to the station was considerable, having regard to the comparatively small distance, and of oourse equally careful and expensive arrangements had to be made to vet home again, so that people who were anxious, willing and able in one sense to come up to London or visit their friends, say, several times a year, went once only, or not at all, thus confining their view of life and building up instead of breaking down purely parochial feeling and ideas, and also keeping money from being advantageously circulated which otherwise would have been.
Now, to this little village a wonderful thing has come to pass within the last few weeks. Six times a day in one direction a motor omnibus passes punctually, and six times a day a motor omnibus with equal punctuality travels in the opposite direction. It takes villagers to the town where the station is, or it takes them to the sea coast for a change of air, and when they go off by rail they have no anxiety about getting home, for they know that the motor omnibus will be certain to be there to meet certain trains, and they have not to spend perhaps Jos. for a fly to get home, or to trudge four weary miles, which is a very long distance for elderly people. Further, they are able to get goods from the neighbouring town and from the coast in a way which they were not able to do formerly. For instance, they can send a written order to the fishmonger on the coast and obtain good fresh fish—which the night before had been swimming in the Channel—the same day. Hitherto they have only been able to get fresh fish once a week, and then only when the perambulating fishmonger chanced to have some left by the time he reached the village. This may sound a small thing to us, but to people living in a place not for a week or a month, but the whole of their lives, even a small thing such as this is of some importance to them, as much to their health as to their comfort in living. I simply give this as an instance, but many other cases were brought before my notice by the villagers themselves as to the benefits which they were receiving from these motor omnibuses. The motor omnibuses in question can also carry large boxes and baggage, and this has been found a great convenience. For instance, when the villagers wished to go ?o Worthing previously for their seaside change, they had first of all to get the carriage to take them to the station (four miles), which cost them upwards of ms., including carriage for the baggage: they then had to go in the train by a roundabout route all the way to Brighton, where they changed and went to Worthing. it took them the best part of the day to do the journey, whereas they now do it in, I think, something less than an hour, and the cost will not bear any comparison.
The cost by motor bus is a fraction of what it cost them by carriage and rail.
Yet another way in which the villagers pointed out to me they were benefiting by the invasion of the motor omnibus. The larger houses and estates which for some time have been on a downward road were now looking up—in fact, were letting. There was, indeed, every prospect of their all letting off, because people were more disposed to go to a place to reside, or to have it as a summer resort, when that place was one which their friends could reach with comparative ease, and not a place that required much pre-arrangement and some expense to get at. Landowners have also awakened to the situation, and I noticed some boards up for ground to be sold for building purposes. I am not one who delights in seeing fresh bricks and mortar going up in a pretty country place, but, at the same time, it is a sign of prosperity and of money going into a district, and, therefore, from the broader view of the greatest good for the greatest number, one should not allow one's own prejudices to shut one's eyes to the benefit of additional buildings. It is important to note that in drawing your attention to all these points I am not voicing simply my own thoughts, but what was pointed out to me by the actual and permanent inhabitants of the village, and it was extremely interesting to me to hear for the first time the views of the public on motor omnibuses, such views being given by absolutely nonmotoring people. It is not an exaggeration of language to say that the advent of these few motor omnibuses in this quiet Sussex district has already, within the space of a few weeks' changed the whole position of affairs as regards the daily life and the possibility of travel and enjoyment to the inhabitants in that pretty district. When one reflects for a moment that what is happening in this little bit of country is happening, or is going to happen, all over the land, the influence that the motor omnibus will have in a comparatively short space of time on the national life of Great Britain is too tremendous for one to grasp adequately. It is quite possible, in fact probable, that the change will be greater, as it will certainty he more rapid, than that which was brought about by the introduction of railways.—Yours faith fully, G. H. SMITT-I. 45, Poland Street, W., August xeth, 1905.
[Mr. Smith's letter gives a concrete instance of the openings for motor omnibus services. We have frequently, as he mentions, pointed out that provincial demands will be extensive and varied. Great as is the demand for these vehicles in London, we have every reason to say that the use for them in serving country districts will be in excess of it.—ED.] Cardan Drive and Rubber Tyres.
The Editor, " THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR."
Sir,—The letter of your correspondents, Messrs. J. Blake and Company, of Liverpool, in reference to their experience with solid tyres on commercial motors having a gear drive only, interests me very much. Looking at the matter from the point of view of differences I have myself noted between steam cars and petrol vehicles, I am inclined to think that smoothness of transmission and continuity of torque on the shafts have a great effect upon the wearing qualities of the same rubber. If one observes a motor vehicle fitted with a two-cylinder petrol engine, the successive impulses, especially at slow speeds, are easily discerned by the eye as a series of jerks. Of course, with a four-cylinder engine, and when the number of revolutions is high, the same fact is not so readily perceived, but it is none the less true that a petrol engine, at all times, gives a series of jerks to the tyre which must lead to increased internal and molecular stresses. I am prepared to hear that tyres wear better, for equal weights, where a four-cylinder engine is employed instead of a two-cylinder engine, but there is little doubt that a steam-propelled car is even better still in this important respect.—Yours faithfully,
The Editor invites corresPondence on all subjects connected with She use of commercial motors. Letters must be on one side of the pafier only, and type-written by preference. The right of abbreviation is reserved, and no responsibility for the views expressed is accepted.