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31st January 1918
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Page 1, 31st January 1918 — TRANSPORT! TRANSPORT ! ! TRANSPORT ! ! !
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

A Road Transport Board Appointed.

p ROBABLY before this issue appears in print . there will be an official announcement of the complete details of the Government's new scheme -which has, we understand, been devised for the control of all forms of inland transport (with the exception of the railways, which will continue to be Controlled by the RailwayExecutive). Thus, our efforts extending over many months, in the columns of this journal and out of them, have at last borne good fruit and, perhaps not unnaturally there is a feeling of satisfaction at the success which has attended our efforts. We intend to continue our work in the direction of co-ordination' of motor transport, until the new Board has settled down to its task, by transmitting to it all information vital to the subject, and, as our readers can help in this matter, we look to them to give us every possible assistance they can to this end.

Being conversant with all the essential facts, we should be the last to suggest that motor transport in the hands of thehaulier and user has been abused or mismanaged, but we feel that their efforts can be supplemented and their facilities be put to fuller use if official assistance is given in order that transport may be able to pull its full weight and bear its full share of the burden now imposed on the court try. In some parts of the country there are more vehicles than loads: in others the reverse situation obtains. In some districts there are foodstuffs that would find a ready market in the adjacent towns if. better transport facilities could be secured-. But it is no one's business to divert a few miles out of its way the lorry returning efripty to town after delivering a load of munitions.

Again, no attention is accorded to the still small voice of the user whose vehicle is idle for need of a gearwheel to replace a breakage or who cannot get drivers for his 3-tonners OT e-tonners because the men are driving small delivery vans which could easily be managed by youths or women. But if it were a Government Department thundering out the same requirements we can imagine that things would start moving and the unconvinced would begin to find conviction. Until an official announcement had been made, it would be impossible for anyone to say what exactly will be the constitution of the new Transport Board, or to give an indication of the scope of its work, but we have always urged that a Road Transport Authority should come under the direction of the Board of Trade in association with other Government Departments, particularly the Ministry of Munitions and the Ministry of Food, because the Board of Trade has no local organizations about 4e. country .(except in connection with maritime mat&rs), whereas the Ministry of Munitions and the Ministry of Food --have area offices and officers, such local organizations' being considerably more numerous in the case of the Ministry of Food. The Road Transport Department of the 'Ministry of Food has, from time to time in the past three months, outlined its ideas on the co-ordination of transport at various public meetings and in consultation with local Chambers of Commerce, but the Board of .Trade, although controlling both railway and horse transport, has hitherto not exercised control of motor transport except in the matter of the rationing of petrol. There will now be a change of policy and co-ordination will be undertaken, and in our opinion this co-ordination must extend to naval and military vehicles. The Food Branch of the Board of Agriculture must be asked, to co-operate to the extent, at least, of indicating the available road transport in the possession of farmers with whom it is in daily touch (as distinct from vehicles solely working on the land). There is a notoriously huge volume of wasted loadcapacity on the return journeys from railways to farms, and, 'seeing that military camps are dotted all over the country, drawing supplies from the railways, there is obviously here the possibility of co-ordination by which the same vehicle can transport farm produce to the railway and (instead of returning empty) transport supplies to the camps, at least in some areas. We have already said we believe that the best way of utilizing the transport facilities of this country will be by decentralization.. The country should be divided into (as a suggestion) about twenty chief zones for England and Wales, each with its own local Transport Board. The experienced haulage contractors and the nominees of transport companies should be co-opted on each local Board. Upon the wise choice of a chairman everything . will depend. Presumably the choice of the chairman will rest with Sir Albert Stanley, President of the Board of Trade, and we look to him to appoint a man with the capacity forfthe job. We do strongly urge that the man who is not wanted to fill this post is a railway Man nor a permanent official of the Board of Trade. Admitting that from the railway.. executives will most readily be found the man with , a full knowledge of traffic and transport, we think that such a man would be too deeply obsessed with the capabilities of the railways, and would not be s17

inclineclato give motor transport its fullest. opportunities.'

The ' headquarters of the Road Transport Board should preferably notsbe big—probably fewer than ten members will be best, as, being the central board, it will have the Means at its disposal to appoint associated committees to deal with special branches of the subject, such committees if necessary to sit in conference. The success of fte. headrivarters staff will largely depend upon the .personality of the chair= man ; and, of course, the same may equally be said i

of the local boards n their various zones, whilst, beyond the question of the personalities of the various chairmen, there is the matter of the selection of the chief executive officer or officers in each zone. In connection with this, we would suggest that the Commercial Motor Users Associations should he eon-, suited for suggestions or submissions.

The Emergency Ration of Petrol.

IN OUR EDITORIAL columns last week we urged the desirability of reconsidering the question of the emergency allowance of petrol for those vehicles which are converted for the use of ps, and just before like issue went to press a deputation from the Consmerial Motor • Users Association.. waited on the Petrol Control , Department and advanced the same line of argument. The Petrol Controller has now informed tho Association that he will concede any necessary ration of petrol for commercial motor vehicles and public service vehicles which are equipped to run on gas, It was necessary that a more generous allowance of petrol should be given if a severe check was not to be placed. upon the development of gas—curious as it may sound. The reason, of •eourse, is that under, the new Restriction Order a petrol licence and a gas permit will not be issued in respect of one and the same vehicle. Our own feeling is that this provision should be cancelled or definitely modified to the ex-. tent of allowing an omnibus, say, up to. one-half, and to a commercial vehicle two-thirds of its previous allowance, for a period which will cover the experimental stage—perhaps until the middle of March—with power to extend the period, and afterwards to reduce the petrol allowance when the change over has proved successful. Only in this way will it lee possible eventually to ensure the maximum consumption of •

gas and the minimum consumption of petrol. .

Petrol Should Not Be Used for Agrhnotors.

WE HAVE, in these columns, asserted as our opinion that by April or May there may be such a shortage of petrol that it may not be available for certain forms of even utility vehicles. We put it now to owners of agrimotors using petrol

that the time _has come for them toconsider alternative fuels in order to save the lighter spirit. They may no be getting a. petrol 'allowance, but that privilege is not likely for long to be a certainty. The

two alternatives are paraffin and gas. Paraffin is now more plentiful than. it was, and the threat of a serious shortage has been averted, and if there is shown to be a sufficient 'call for it on the part of agrimotor owners, we see no reason why, should the shortage occur later in the year, there should not be established some form of priority in favour of agricultural machinery. There are aenamber of paraffin carburetters and adapters on the market, and busy brains have been at work in the direction of facilitating the use of paraffin, so that there is no valid excuse for not using this oil, , Nor is there, in many cases, any-reason why gas contained in small gas bags should not be employed for the propulsion of agricultural machinery. A willing spirit, a little ingenuity, and a determination to -overcome minor difficulties are the only necessary ingredients.

Petrol Everywhere: Yet a Shortage.,

WE ARE, Most of us, prone to take the evidence that obtrudes itself under our nose as it were and to draw wrong deductions,

instead of inquiring further and deeper. All the evidence in 'connection with petrol supplies suggests, if not plenitude, at least no particular shortage.. The gasage petrol stores all over the Country are full, and the garage proprietor tells the inquisitive wouldsbe customer that he for one has plenty and would sell it if it were not for the restrictions. Moreover, only that day, or yesterday, the Petrol Pool Board vans called at his garage, and he was urged to take in a few score of tins and BO forth—all going to show that the petrol was to be obtained. Let us put another complexion on this matter. The quantity of petrol in this country at this moment available for naval and military services and for aircraft is sufficieat for so many weeks (we may not give the figure). 'There is insufficient storage at the ocean ports, and it would be unwise to keep the whole or greater part of our stock near the coast. Hence the spirit is distributed as widely as possible through_ outthe country, the most useful places being, of course, the -properly arranged spirit ...stores of the garages. Not only is a large reserve of petrol thus distributed for reasons of :high national policy but, in the event of the breakdown of other methods of transport, the fuel is ready in every part of the country for the mobilization of every available motor, vehicle.

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