HARASSING THE HACKNEY, CARRIAGE OWNER.
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Some Pertinent Pointers Arising from the Imposition of Recent Restrictions.
T SEEMS DESIRAl3LE, once again, to draw attention to the position of the Hackney carriage owner, for the hurricane of regulations, restrictions and orders is forcing many proprietors out of business.
That which was, atone time, a grievance is now fast growing into a scandal, for, in quite a haphazard manner, the various oddities termed regulations, etc., are thrown out upon the Hackney carriage proprietors like potatoes from a sack, only to be altered. a .week or two later, though often, meantime, proprietors and drivers have been hauled as anti-patriots before a bench of magistrates and some glaring absurdity then exposed. None-the-less, the unfortunate owner or driver is at least mulcted in the costs of the technical 'infringement" of the order.
On the 19th January I had served upon me a sheet of paper giving the outline of the latest restrictions. Strange to relate, the paper, which was dated for the previous day, 18th January, :commences by stating : You are informed that the use of petrol, petrol substitutes, a,nd gas for the driving of motor vehicles is now regulated by the Motor Spirit (Consolidation)
and Gas Restriction Order, 1918, which came into force on Thursday, the 10th January." Therefore, the
order not only gave no time to an owner to adjust his business; bet was retrospective, by eight days. [The order was dated 3rd January, was issued on the 8th, and appeared in TEE COMMERCIAL MOTOR on 10th January, the day as from which it took effect.— En. " C.M."] Is there any specific reason why the trade should not receive reasonable notice When drastic changes are to be made?
The whole of the order, I am assured by the local police, covers seven pages. 1 haVe -been quite unable to obtain a. complete copy, though situated in a very large northern city. We have sent our correspondent a topy.—En. " C.M."] Those in authority should be made to realize that these lengthy documents have, in the first place, to be thoroughly digested by the proprietor or manager, which even for them is not always an easy matter, _ and must be passed ori by them in ordinary every-day litaigua,ge to the average taxi-driver, into whose hands the employer 'chances his own fate.
Definition of "Area" Required?
This latter point I am certain has never entered the mind of the officials when drawing up their sheaves of literature. As an instance, I give extracts from the draft submitted for my use by the Chief Constable, which states : "(No. 2) Petrol, etc., may beused for motorea,ba (that is Hackney carriages licensed toply for hire, by the police, or other local authority) within the limits of the area for which they are licensed and to any place situate not more than three miles from the boundary of such area and for returning from such plaoe.' This clause is flagrantly unjust and will fall particularly, heavy upon the smaller proprietor and owner of a car or cars in small country towns, with very 'limited licensing areas, and boundaries.
What is really meant by "area" and " boundary "? Does it mean the city or urban district boundary, or does it mean the limit, as in many towns throughout the country where a by-law is already in force, which specifies a given radius over the actual boundary of the town, to which the driver is compelled, by the said by-law, to convey his fare if so required. There are seine towns which prescribe _a radius of ten miles from the oentre of the city..
From one H.C. office I have had two interprets, 034
lions as to what constitutes the boundary, one officer definingit as being the city boundary, whilst another has accepted the local by-law radius or limit to which a driver can be compelled to take his fare, which is miles beyond the actual city boundary.
A definite ruling-must quicklybe given on this point for the sake of some poor unintentionally offending driver.
Inequalities of the Order.
This boundary business is bound to be a bubble as it now stands. For instance, is the owner of a taxi in Staines, who is already receiving et smaller quantity
of petrol than the London taxi-driver, going to stand by and see the latter able to bring a.fare three miles
beyond the metropolitan area, whilst, with identically the same vehicle, receiving smaller petrol supplies per month, from which he must get his living, he is not ailciwed to undertake the same reversed journey ? In fact, the Staines oWrier is only able to do a email fraction of the jdurney as the latest order now stands.
again, a car in Canterbury can touch the boundary about two miles from the cathedral in the centre of the city, in almost any direction. Should a cantankerous official so desire, he could give a hob time to an owner, if a strict literal city boundary be adhered to.
The gross unfairness of the application of the order is more glaring when one compares these smaller places with the large towns, with far better conditions of trading and ability to travel for a radius of 20 miles, and in some instances more. Modern towns, generally speaking, have far wider boundaries than the older cities. One circular radius ;lieuld be laid down for all and sundry, vize: 15 mile-s from the centre of the town or licensing area..
Clause 2, referred to above, states : "Petrol may be used for driving to any place within such boundary." This is partly over-ruled-by another stipulation in the same order to the effect that, "Notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained, no person shall use, . or cause pr permit to be' used, petrol, petrol substitute or gas for driving any vehicle whatsoever to or from any race. meeting, game or sport." Does this Mean that a man may not use a taxi to go to his club or hotel and whilst there play a game of billiards ?
Does the inclusion of sport mean that pasengera may not be conveyed to a charity sports meeting, or is this, again, contradicted in its turn by the ruling "'for Red Cross purposes" ?
Wanted!—A Flat Radius.
My plea is for justice and equality for all and sundry, demanding a definite and flat radius for every town in the country, also seriously reconsidering (though preferably cancelling) the antiquated and, in many instances, absurd Hackney _carriage local bylaws in force in these towns.
It is high time that we had at least one person to represent the Hackney carriage owner, watching his interests, and, by practical knowledge and experience, assisting in the formulation of the various decrees which are now being showered upon us like "bolts fromthe blue."
The Petrol Control Department have already inflicted a, glaring injustice upon town and country owners outside London, by granting the metropolitan driver more petrol than his country cousin. The latter has much heavier roads and weather conditions to face, particularly in the north of ,Eirigla,nd, Scotland and Wales, and he has to maintain in most instances a heavier type of vehicle to stand up to the work, therefore having a much stiffer commercial proposition than the London owner on his billiard-table top roads.
F. W. HOPPER.