Virile Discussion on I.o.T. Congress Papers
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AS the papers prepared for the Institute of Transport Congress, held last week in Birmingham, had been circularized, they were taken as read, thus giving more time for a full discussion of the many interesting points raised. In last week's issue of The Commercial Motor a comprehensive résumé of the subjects due for discussion was published, and it remains, therefore, to deal with the discussions which took place after the opening remarks of the authors of the papers.
Mr. Baker's Constructive Ideas.
It was clear, so soon as Mr. A. C. Baker, A.M.I.E.E., M.Inst.T., rose to comment on his paper entitled "Mimicipal Passenger Transport," that he not only appreciated the difficulties connected with the operation of large passenger transport fleets in big cities, but that he had constructive ideas on how such difficulties might be met or circumvented. Naturally, he forecast the gradual disappearance of the tramcar and its replacement by the motorbus or trolleybus.
A most interesting point was made by the speaker when he said that, in operating petrol and oil-engined buses. trolleybuses, etc., he had come to the conclusion that the compression-ignition-engined machine had definitely proved itself to be the most economical proposition available at the present time. With present prices of fuel oil, electric current would have to be supplied at about .45d. per unit in order to make the running costs of the two types of vehicle comparable.
Mr, 0, C. Power, general manager of the Birmingham and Midland Omnibus Co., Ltd.. contributed one of his usual constructive speeches and spoke with some concern about the ever-increasing difficulties caused by peak periods. In expressing the hope that some help would be forthcoming from authorities other than those in charge of transport undertakings, he suggested that the times of opening and closing of works and offices in adjacent districts might be staggered. The alteration of the school opening time would also help in this direction.
Mr. C. Owen Silvers, general manager of Wolverhampton Transport Department, associated his views on the matter of oil-engined bus operation with those of Mr. Baker, and he had to acknowledge that there is no doubt as to the progress of this type of vehicle.
Coun. N. .Tiptaft, of Birmingham, offered a comprehensive scheme to relieve ttaffic conditions. He stated that " we must change our towns to suit our transport conditions." The President, Sir Cyril W. Ifurciamb, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Transport, doubted whether it would be possible, from the financial point of view, to pull down our cities in order to widen the streets. He expressed the view that the use of many streets was seriously diminished by parking.
The Railway View.
Mr. H. W. Payne's association with the Great Western Railway was clearly the raison d'être for his inclination to the view expressed in his paper on "The Function of the Trader in an Efficient System of Transport," that the railway companies are the rightful transporters of the country's goods, and that road-transport undertakings are interlopers in a well-organized system. There were many prominent delegates at the Congress, however, who disagreed entirely with such views and voiced their opinions accordingly.
Mr. W. H. Gaunt, distribution manager of J. Lyons and Co„ Ltd., said that, in his opinion, the paper did not give the trader a lead to help him formulate his actions for the future. He also questioned Mr. Payne's assertion that the railways have been first in the field with new methods and have always been eager to meet manufacturers' and traders' requirements.
Until recently, Mr. Gaunt continued, the attitude of the railway companies was very far removed from the pleasant picture of their activities presented by the author of the paper. He asked whether the trader can be blamed if he takes full advantage of alternative transport facilities offered.
Mr. Gaunt said that as new trades are coming into being, and the relative importance of industries is changing, the lighter trades are tending to become more important. Certain factors make it desirable to abandon the old method of holding large stocks which entailed mass distribution, for one of individual delivery in small lots. There is, in consequence, a definite demand for road transport.
Efficient Transport Demanded.
Mr. J. Paterson, managing director of Carter Paterson and Co., Ltd., deplored the overlapping and waste which existed in the administration of road and rail transport services, and Mr. Frederick Smith, head of the transport executive of Unilever, Ltd., said that the railways looked upon road transport, not as a valuable auxiliary, but as a competitor. Mr. A. J. Marsden, supervisor of the Cadbury and Fry joint transport board, maintained that traders were willing to pay a fair transport charge but that they require an assurance that the organization employed is efficiently run.
To restore order in a disorderly sys tem requires bold measures, and although such a policy cures many ills it cannot immediately remove the
cause of all complaints. New problems are naturally .created and it becomes
necessary to formulate plans to organize a complete system designed to benefit operators and customers.
The foregoing summarizes Mr. E. S. Herbert's remarks on the Road Traffic Acts and, as will be gathered from a perusal of the précis of his paper entitled " Second Thoughts on the Road Traffic Acts," given before the Congress and reported in last week's issue, the author feels that on the balance of opinions expressed by large and small operators, the Acts have done good.
In opening the discussion, Mr. Sidney E. Garcke, chairman of Tilling and B.A.T.. Ltd., brought up the old question of traffic regulation. To restrict the use of private cars in towns and villages would be intensely unpopular. Something must, • however, be done before long, otherwise chaotic traffic conditions would obtain in large cities.
Regulations ef Proved Value.
Mr. 0. C. Power, general manager of the Birmingham and Midland Omnibus Co., Ltd., said that he was a very reluctant convert to the stringent control of the Traffic Commissioners: he admitted that the regulations were of value to the public. to industry and to large and small operators. Road and rail fares should, he said, be the same for any given distance, thus encouraging equally the use of railways and road vehicles. This system is already in operation in certain areas with, it was claimed, perfectly satisfactory results.
The chief commercial manager of the L.M.S. Railway Co., Mr. Ashton Davies, raised a number of controversial points. He claimed that the Road Traffic Act has been the means of bringing the transport undertakings of the country into an organized and orderly body. Chaotic conditions have given place to regulated efficiency, and road services had been afforded protection and security!
Mr. W. A. Willox summarized his remarks by saying that the Road Traffic Act was introduced because the efficiency of road vehicles was such that some form of protection for the railways became necessary.•
Mr. Herbert, in his reply to Mr. Ashton Davies, said it might be argued that, if a railway claimed to have facilities for any given transport, either of goods or passengers, the claim for a road vehicle should *automatically be quashed. Such a view was, of course, untenable.