PHASES OF MUNICIPAL CONTRACTING IN PARIS.
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Mechanical Transport is Widely Used, But the Municipality Owns No Fleet of its Own, Street Cleansing, Refuse Collecting and Ambulance Work Being Performed Under Contracts, Whilst the Fire Brigade Forms a Branch of the Army.
ALTHOUGH making full use of mechanical road transport in every department of municipal life the Paris Municipal Council delegates till the work to outside contractors. The whole of the operations in connection with street sweeping, cleansing, watering, refusecollecting and the running of municipal ambulances is carried out under contract.
The contractors, for the most part, are either the hire departments of big French motor manufacturers, or subsidiary companies formed by other big motor companies for the special purpose of municipal 'work. The Hotel de Ville does not own a single motor vehicle. The fire brigade is run by the Army. The Conseil Generale de la Seine (the County Council as distinct from the City Council) is responsible for all the public surface transport of Paris so far as passengers are concerned.
The Seine Council holds a monopoly and all the public passenger transport is run for it by the Societe des Transports en Commun de la Region Parisienne. This organization was formed in 1920 by a fusion of all the private enterprises which, up to that time, had been running the various passenger services. Immediately upon its formation, the Societe, which is known as the T.C.R.P., was taken over by the Conseil Generale. The administration of the T.C.R.P. is entirely independent of the council contractor. All that the Seine Council has to do is to guarantee a regular fixed income to the T.C.R.P. and pay its annual trading losses, amounting to 50 million francs or more. This arrangement obviously saves a lot of trouble.
The passenger services run by the T.C.R.P. are very efficient and well conducted. The omnibus section suffers from a leek of rolling stock, but this deficiency is being made good as rapidly as possible. Nearly 200 new omnibuses
were put into service last year, quite apart from the special express buses, 50 in number, -which have already been fully described in The Commercial Motor. The T.c.n.p. passenger-vehicle fleet now numbers 1,500 omnibuses, but of these 1,300 are the well-known Si-type 38-seater vehicles and the remainder (apart from the exprees bilks) 48
seater six-wheelers. The latter have proved an unqualified success, and nearly 100 of them are now in service. The chassis of the Six-wheeler, or HOtype, bus is practically identical with that of the four-wheeler, but the rear portion is borne upon trailing wheels which are connected up to the steering gear and turn with the front wheels. The overall length of these omnibuses is over 34 ft., but, thanks to the special steering arrangement, they can be turned in a radius of scarcely more than 25 ft.
Owing to the lack of rolling stock the Paris omnibuses operate almost entirely within the fortifications, and the subutile are served by the T.C.R.P. electric trams. It is hoped to remedy this state of affairs in the near future, however, as the advantages of motor omnibuses over tramcars are fully realized by the T.C.R.P., and every effort is being made to increase the bus fleet, whilst, at the same time, certain lines of tramway are in process of elimination. A few summer services are run on Sundays and fete days, but these, for the most part, simply augment the existing tramway services.
In all, 56 regular omnibus services are at peesent run by the T.C.R.P.
The lack of country omnibus services in the Paris district has not been due to any lack of enterprise on the part of the
T.p.n.p. • it simply that it has not, as yet, had enough vehicles to expand the services to the required extent, Only . about half a dozen suburban services exist at present, but this number will be steadily increased as new buses are available. It may be noted that deliveries of new machines have been particularly good during the past twelve months.
There is not likely to be any departure from the present types of omnibus in use in Paris in the near future, although an agitation has reeently been stimulated in favour of introducing the double-decker, and M. Morain, the present Prefect of Police, is said to appeove of the idea. The chief argument raised on behalf of the double-decker is that it might relieve traffic coneestkon to some extent, as a greater number of passengers could be carried for a given space of roadway occupied.
The two existing types of singledecker bus with rear platforms will be adhered to for the present, and it must be admitted that they render excellent
service under very arduous conditions.
The express buses have not, as yet, proved a very great success, although, curiously enough, they seemed at first to be well patronized ; these vehicles now run more than half empty on the majority of their trips. The express services are being continued for the present, however, and there is little doubt that the spare express-type ()ranibusee will be very useful for the regular service which is being instituted between Paris and the Montlhery motor racing track in the coming season.
The work of street cleansing, watering, sweeping and collection of refuse in Pails is performed by four separate companies of contractors. The most important is a subsidiary of Messrs. C. G. 0. Schneider. This company, who are ;known as the " Sita," do the bulk• of the refuse collecticin and disposal work. The fleet of the " Sita " comprises nearly 520 tipping wagons. These wagons are all mounted on the standard 7-ton C. G. 0. Schneider chassis. The tipping arrangement is mechanically operated by means of cables, the winding (hems being worm-driven from the gearbox. The type of bodyi used on these wagons is built entirely of steel and is Provided with sectional sliding covers.
In addition to the refuse lorries of the " Site," a further •100 tipping wagons are employed for this work by the Soci6t6 Anxiliaire des Services Munieipales, known as the S.A.S.M. One half of this fleet is composed of Latil wagons, the remainder being De Diens. The S.A.S.M. also run over 150
sweepers and water carts, almost all of them being De Dion vehicles.
The hire department of the Daftly Co. also runs a fleet of nearly 150 Laffiy sweepers and water carts. A fourth contracting company maintain a fleet of about 50 Latil refuse-collecting lorries.
With regard to the contracting-out system as it exists in Paris to-day it may be said without any hesitation that the work is done most efficiently in all
branches. There certainly would appear to be advantages in a system which encourages private enterprise, when, as in this case, the results are satisfactory from the point of view of the public.
The municipal ambulances of Paris are all run for the Asei,stance Publique by the hire department of Messrs. Panhard and Levassor. They are very flue vehicles, nearly all of them being mounted on Panhard chassis of modern pattern and fitted with fotte-wheel braking, lbw-pressure tyres and other up-to
date equipment. Needless to say, theservice is splendidly maintained.
As the main-drainage system obtains throughout the 'whole of Paris proper, the Municipal Connell does not have to concern itself with cesspool emptying. Certain outlying suburbs still have the cesspool system and, in these eases, the local councils arrange for private contractors to undertake the work of emptying, etc. The operations, in most instances; are performed by antique horse-drawn pumps built in the early part of last century. Curionsly enough, in at /east one case, the said archaic machines are accompanied in their labours by brand-new motor tank wagons, mounted on pneumatic tyres.
The tasks of road construction, repairing and maintenance are largely given over to outside contractors, although, for once in a way, the Municipal Council enters into the game and tactually owns a factory for the production of wood-paving blocks.
Sonic of the contractors use Very upto-date methods in road making. One company in particular use an enormous steam concrete-mixing machine, which is capable of travelling under its own power on creeper tracks.
During the war the peeements of Paris were badly neglected, and for some time afterwards the shortage of labour Made it difficult to catch up with the repair work. For the past two years, however, the Municipal Council has been making very strenuous efforts to improve matters, and ninny of the mein boulevards are now in excellent condition.