REMUNERATIVE MUNICIPAL BUSES.
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Details of the Vehicles in the Service of the Stockton Corporation; Which Operates a Fleet at 2I .Saloon Buses.
rpHE advantages of the motorbus are
uow thoroughly appreciated in municipal circles by even the most conservativend pro-tram advocates, and increasAl use is being made of the more flexible type of .passenger-carryiug vehicle by enterprising local
authorities. The principal duties of municipal buses case under the heads of providing feeder services to existing tram routes, of opening up travel facilities for growing suburbs, and of establishing cross-town services in areas not served by trams. In short, the buses are now being used as a means of • extending the scope of corporation tramway systems, although, in some instances, the tramcar is being abandoned and the petrol bus or trolley vehicle used in its place.
A good example of the operation of municipally owned buses for each of these three duties is to be found at Stockton, where the corporation has, in the short space of four years, made extensive developments, and by the adoption of a businesslike method of organization, built up an efficient and financially sound bus system.
Prior to April, 1921, both the tramcar and motorbus systems on Teesside were owned by the Imperial Tramways co., Ltd. In that year, however, the Middlesbrough and the Stockton Corporations each took over its respec tive sections. Vehicles were ansrtioned in -ratio to the route mileage in
the two areas, and the Stockton authority began its career as a busoperating undertaking with six 30seater Bristol saloon buses.
Naturally, the opening year was very largely devoted to experiments, but within the first twelve months the success of the enterprise was assiired, to such an extent, indeed, that the fleet wa.s increased to sixteen vehicles. Further additions have since been made in order to cope with the growing demand for bus services from inhabitants in adjoining districts, and at the present time the total fleet comprises twenty-one machines.
One of the most interesting developments in the Stockton system has been the recent adoption of one-man-controlled vehicles, and, in the course of the last few months, six 26-seater Leyland buses have been purchased, all of Ahem being specially built for this economical method of control. The remaining units of the present fleet are five of the six original Bristol buses, six 30-seater A.E.C.'s, one 30-seater Leyland, one 32-seater Straker-Squire, and two 14-seater Fords. The lastnamed vehicles are also adapted for one-man operation. The corporation also run a 30-seater Bristol motor coach during the summer months.
In the course of the past few weeks the officials responsible for the maintenance of the tram and bus services of the town have been accorded an oppor
Utility of investigating the possibilities of the new A.E.C. covered-in top-decker bus for meeting certain local traffic requirements, and are understood to be impressed with the ability of this type of vehicle to provide economical operation over routes on which traffic is comparatively heavy. All the vehicles at present in use at Stockton are of the single-decker saloon type'and, with the exception of the 26-seater Leylands and the Fords, the fleet was, until recently, shod with solid tyres. Now, however, experinSents are being made with Henley air-cushion tyres which are stated to give improved riding comfort.
No fewer than 25 miles of bus routes are operated, the services, with their single journey mileages, being as follow :—Stockton to Seaton Carew, 12 miles; Stockton to Yarrn, 4 miles; Norton to Transporter Bridge (Port Clarence), 3 miles ; Raby Road to Fairfield (Town Service), 3 miles ; Hartburn to Mile House (Town Service), 3 inilee.
Since the purchase of the new Leylands, services of greater frequency have been rendered possible, and on most routes vehicles now run at inter vals of twenty minutes, or less. A large volume of business traffic is dealt with every morning and evening, when accelerated services are provided. Special workmen's tickets are issued at redliced rates, and a particularly interesting innovation is the provision of special privilege tickets for regular passengers, which are available on a number of the routes to residential and works areas.
Seaton Carew, a growing Durham coast town, is a particularly popular route during the summer months, end statistics issued for the last complete financial year (ended March 31st, 1924) show that the traffic receipts on this service alone amounted to £7,109 for 115,043 bus-miles run, giving an aver • age traffic revenue of 14.83d. per busmile.
The Stockton Corporation is fortis.; nate in having Mr. A. Forster as its tramways and omnibus manager, for he. has had an extensive connection with passenger transport organization and administration, and was for many years works manager of the Imperial Tram
ways Co., Ltd. It was very largely due to his able management that, at the end of the last complete financial year, the undertaking fouild itself in the happy position of showing a gross profit of £6,010, and of having a surplus of £1,556 after meetinginterest and redemntion charges, a stifff which was very usefully absorbed in meeting the cost of the first one-man-controlled buses.
During the year ended March 31st, 1924—the last complete year for which figures are available—the total traffic receipts on the Stockton buses amounted to £24,035, and the vehicles covered in all 344,909 miles, thus giving a return of 16.72d. per bus-mile. The total revenue was £24,291, as compared with a total expenditure of £18,281. Under the main headings of expenditure we find traffic expenses absorbed £7,817, repairs and maintenance £4,752, petrol £4,110, whilst under the heading of "general items" a sum of £1,564 was expended.