ROAD TRANSPORT FINDS UTOPIA
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by v Seacombe
MANY surprises await the transport student from the mainland in the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. One is that both reputedly have more motor vehicles per head of population than any country in Europe. In Jersey the figure is more than one in six, with approximately one to every seven inhabitants of Guernsey.
In March this year, 3,012 lorries and vans, 103 buses and coaches and 136 taxis were registered in Jersey, and although I could not obtain a similar breakdown of the figures for Guernsey, I have it on good authority that roughly a quarter of the island's 6,000 vehicles are liirries and vans. The reason is that there is no railway on either island.
On feudal Sark, a smaller island lying just off Guernsey, motor vehicles are forbidden, although a concession to progress has been made in recent years in permitting tractors to operate there. These carry visitors' luggage between the harbour and the hotels.
The inhabitants of both islands depend to a large extent on tourists for their existence, but this is particularly true when applied to the coach and bus operators. Horticulture and agriculture explain the need for the large number of lorries, for both export large quantities of tomatoes, potatoes and flowers, as well as grapes and other products of the growing industry.
Guernsey has an area of about 24 sq. miles and a population of some 45,000, of whom 2,000 grow tomatoes. Laid end-to-end, the -island's 30-ft.-wide greenhouses would stretch for nearly 300 miles. Last year the tomato crop yielded some 8m. baskets, or chips, for export, which, with 12 lb. in each, totalled 42,131 tons. All had to be collected from growers and carried to the harbour at St. Peter Port by road. More than 1,670 tons of flowers were also delivered to the docks in lorries.
Jersey's chief export is the potato, large quantities of which are shipped from the island in May, June and July, but tomatoes are grown in almost equal quantity. Larger than Guernsey, from which it is separated by 25 miles, it has a population of about 60,000 in its 45 sq. miles, roughly half of whom live in St. Helier, the only town. In this respect it is essentially different from Guernsey, for the whole of that island is well populated. Whilst passenger operators in both islands are subject to a certain amount of control, goods operators are completely free; and from observations made when paid a short visit there recently, they appeared to be content with their lot.
Passenger transport in Jersey is controlled by a committee of the States (the local Parliament) set up under the Motor Traffic (Jersey) Law, 1935, and in Guernsey by the Passenger Transport Licensing Authority, both of which correspond roughly to the Licensing Authorities on the mainland. The Guernsey Authority was set up as recently as 1949; before that date, road service licences were issued by the Police Committee.
One article in the Jersey Traffic Law that struck me as being stringent is that a certificate of fitness is current for only a year.
The largest passenger operator in Jersey is the Jersey Motor Transport Co., Ltd., whose general manager is Major F. H. Blakeway, M,I.Mech.E. Their fleet of 95 buses and coaches eomprises 53 Leyland, 12 Dennis, 11 Morris-Commercial, 11 Albion, three Commer, three A.E.C. and two Bedford. Many of the Leylands date back to 1927 and the early '30s, and they are still going strong.
More than a Third are Oilers
Just over a third of the vehicles have oil engines. Oil-engined double-deckers, of which there are eight, return a fuel-consumption rate of 11 m.p.g., although one post-war Leyland Titan has recently been averaging 15.9 m.p.g. Single-deck oilers give approximately 16 m.p.g., whilst the consumption of the petrol-engined vehicles ranges from 7-8 m.p.g.
The legal maximum length of buses is 27 ft. and 7 ft. 6 in. width, but J.M.T. are still operating four 27-ft. 6-in.-long buses which were permitted in the island by special dispensation after the German occupation, when it Was stripped of . many of its public service vehicles. :
Seventeen of .1:N1.T:A 28 services leave from the main bus station at .the Weighbridge on the harbour front at St. Helier. The remainder, with the exception of a service commencing at the General Post Office in Broad Street and another from La Motte Street, emanate from Snow Hill, a cul-de-sac enclosed by amass of solid rock. An interesting feature at Snow Hill is a manually operated turntable on which both singleand doubledeckers are turned.
Two of the company's single-deckers are on a permanent contract with British European Airways, and operate between the airport in St. Peter's Parish and St. Helier at a flat fare of Is. 6d. Relief buses run to and from the airport in summer. Fares generally are reasonable, averaging 2d, a mile on single journeys and 10.. on returns.
37-mile Island Tour
In the summer of 1951, the company experimented with a 37-mile round-the-island tour at a 6s. 2d. fare. It was an immediate success with holidaymakers, and is now a regular feature running several times a day from June 15 to September 18.
For the first time this year, J.M.T. are taking on seasonal staff. The permanent establishment, excluding seven inspectors and administrative workers, totals 138, and an extra nine crews are to be employed during the holiday rush.
The company's staff situation is interesting because they are not governed by the stringent re,sulations applied by trade unions on the mainland. All the maintenance staff hold public service vehicle licences, and they are often required to man vehicles in the summer. Even the assistant traffic manager, an ex-driver, has been known to turn out. The general feeling about this is that it makes an interesting change.
A crew, which is kept to one vehicle whenever possible, is responsible for the general cleanliness (except BI8 exterior washing, which is done by hand in the workshops) and appearance of a bus, the driver for the cab, windscreen and radiator, and the conductor for the saloon. Cleaning materials are carried in the cab of each vehicle, and some crews have been known to buy brushes and other implements! Hours worked in winter average 48 a week, but in season staff have no objection to working up to 90.
The island operators' reliance on holiday traffic can be seen at a glance from a chart hanging on the wall of Major Blakeway's office. Only a little more than 300,000 passengers were carried in each of the first three months of 1953. The figure for July was 1,119,000, which had dropped to 348,000 in November. Christmas shopping bolstered this up to 420,000 during December.
This disparity in traffic inevitably affects the operational fleet, and only about a third of the total number of vehicles is fully employed out of season. Route mileage is 250.
Joe's Bus Service, run by Mr. J. 0. Manning, an ex-J.M.T. driver, operates the only other all-the-yearround bus services. Mr. Manning also runs two coaches for touring purposes. In summer, a half-hour service along Victoria Avenue is run with two toast-racks by Boulevard Transport.
There is no shortage of tours in season, most of which emanate from St. Helier. In addition to those run by J.M.T. and Mr. Manning, tours are provided by Mascot Motors, Ltd., who have 20 coaches; A. A. Pitcher, Ltd. (Tantivy Motors), with 18; Red Line Motors, 15; Blue Coach Tours, 14; Mr. F. Hopkins (Favourite), 5; Mr. A. Allo (Pioneer Tours), 4; Mr. T. A. Jones (Maple Leaf Coaches), 3; Mr. A. Watkins (Jersey Tours), 3; Mr. W. L. Jones (Lena Tours), 2; and Mr, C. B. Griss (Scarlet Pimpernel Tours), I coach. Two other concerns, Waverley Tours (Mr. U. Noel), with four coaches, and Mr. R. L. Cotrel, with one, operate tours from St. Martins in the north-east of the island. All the coaches, with the exception of those belonging to J.M.T., have petrol engines.
During the past few months there has been increasing anxiety among both coach operators and taxi owners about the threat of competition of a nature already known on the mainland. At least one hotel and a
holiday camp have each bought a Volkswagen Microbus to carry their patrons and luggage to and from the harbour and airport, but it was feared that they would also be used to take patrons on tours under the same terms as a "private party" in Britain.
The Volkswagen agents in St. Helier, Jackson's Garage, told me they had sold four Microbuses in a short period, and that supply was not meeting the demand for them.
Operators' problems in Guernsey are quite : different from those obtaining in Jersey, although the seasonal fluctuation in traffic is common to both. Mr James A. Davies, managing director of the two largest bus companies, Guernsey Motors, Ltd., and The Guernsey Railway Co., Ltd., told me that all Guernsey Motors' services and 80 per cent. of those operated by the railway company lose money in winter.
Equal Distribution of Population
Chief of the problems peculiar to Guerrlsey is the equal distribution of its residents throughout the sland, necessitating a more frequent and comprehensive ,us service than in Jersey. Regulations, however, are ess stringent, and all the buses are operated by a driveroncluctor, whereas in Jersey the law requires a onductor on all vehicles with a total capacity of more han 25. There are no double-deck buses. in Guernsey. Guernsey Motors operate 15 services and the railway ompany seven. Three other concerns, Messrs. Watson's 2FreYs), Paragon Bus Services and Blue Bird Services, ach of which have six vehicles, run the remainder. 'isitors to the island would notice the buses of. another Dparent operator, Sarre Transport, Ltd., but although tese are still running in their original livery, this =party was acquired by Guernsey Motors and the .ilway company in 1951.
Sixty-one vehlcles of Austin, Bedford, Commer, ennis, Dodge and Vulcan manufacture comprise uernsey Motors' fleet. Bodywork is by Dennis, Duple, eaver and Thurgood. The railway company have 45 [bion, Bedford, Guy and Dennis buses equipped th Duple, Heaver and Mulliner bodies. Although the and's first oil engine was introduced only in 1950, any 50 per cent. of both companies' fleets now run oil. Seating capacities range from 20 to 35, although c of the Austins seats only 13. Seven standing ssengers are taken on buses with more than 24 seats, d five on those with 20-24 seats.
1d. Minimum on Two Routes
the minimum fare charged is 2d., except on two nes where it is only Id. This applies also to children. passenger rides an average of 1.5 miles for 2d. and miles for 6d., although the actual cost varies in 'erent parts of the island. There are no return fares. ares are normally collected and tickets issued as sengers leave the bus, a system which, although fficient by British standards, is in keeping with the eral atmosphere of the island. Guernsey is probably only place in the British Islands where "the last " waits for a cinema programme to end—even if it rruns half-an-hour or so! Paragon Bus Services Blue Bird do not issue tickets.
lithe island's stage-carriage services are listed in a 1-ordinated " time-table issued as an official publicaby the States at 6d., but the railway company issue ittractive booklet in which their own bus services, yell as details of their tours, are listed, Guernsey ors also publish a tours brochure. : here are 76 taxis in the island at the present time, a fact which alarmed the owners to such an extent that in March they got together and voluntarily imposed a future maximum of 65.
Most of Guernsey's goods vehicles are owned by ancillary users. One of the largest fleets belongs to the Fruit Export Co., Ltd., who last year handled about an eighth of all tomatoes exported, as well as 150,000 boxes of flowers. They run nine Conuners, six of which are tippers, four Thames (two tippers), a Bedford 7-ton tipper and a flat, two Ford 10-cwt. vans, a Bedford 10-cwt. van, six trailers and 20 travellers' cars. Similar work is undertaken by the fleet of Morris-Commercials operated by W. Holmes and Son, Ltd.
Out of season, the vehicles run by these two companies—together with those of many other oneand two-vehicle concerns—are used to carry coal, coke and anthracite (hence the tippers), fertilizer, manure and other commodities essential to the horticultural industry.
Short-wheelbase, forward-control chassis are favoured for their manceuvrability in narrow lanes. Bodywork for carrying tomato chips normally consists of a frame which can easily be removed when a vehicle is required for other purposes. A 3-tonner fitted with a frame can take about 840 chips which, if filled to capacity, weigh about 5 tons. A close watch on overloading is kept by the police.
Indirectly, horticulture also provides the island's two largest haulage companies with most of their work. A speciality of J. H. Miller, Ltd., is hauling mobile sterilizing boilers to and from greenhouses in winter. The boilers, which are equipped with metaI-tyred wheels and towbars and weigh approximately 7 tons, are used to sterilize the ground in greenhouses before planting.
Dakota by Road
An unusual task recently performed by Miller's was the removal of a partially dismantled Dakota aircraft from the airport to the harbour at St. Peter Port, but they also undertake a great deal of general work.
This operator's fleet comprises nine Commer tippers, a Commer tractor, six Morris-Commercial gun tractors which they have converted for heavy towing and winch work, a Morris-Commercial long-wheelbase lorry, 10 trailers, including a low-loader with a capacity of 20 tons, and three taxis. A Ferguson tractor loader is used to load coal, earth, sand and other like' commodities.
Five vehicles and several Scammell trailers operated by Motor Services, Ltd., St. Sampson's Harbour, are employed chiefly on hauling concrete blocks, household coal and other bulk materials. Gravel for horticultural purposes, which is crushed and screened in their own quarries, is also carried.
McAuliff Transport, Ltd., and their associated company in Jersey, Burnham's Transport, Ltd., are engaged mainly on carrying loads to and from the harbours in their respective islands. Both companies are subsidiaries of Coast Lines, Ltd., London, the parent company of British Channel Islands Shipping Co. (Jersey), Ltd., and British Channel Islands Shipping Co. (Guernsey), Ltd.
All the vehicles operated by McAuliff's are Scammell mechanical horses with semi-trailers. The mixed fleet run by Burn ham's Transport includes Commer 10tonners and 7-tonners, Bedford 5-tonners and Morris-Commercial 5-tonners. All have petrol power units.
British Railways also operate goods fleets on both islands. Their vehicles are engaged on carrying materials to and from the B.R. steamers which connect the islands with the mainland.