GROWTH OF A LANCASHIRE BUS UNDERTAKING.
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DROGRESS in the motorbus enter
prise directed. by the Lancashire United Tramways, Ltd., of Atherton, Liverpool and Manchester, was conaiderably expedited during the past itad the company's achievements translated into terms of work done may be succinctly expressed thus :—Increase in the number of passengers carried, about 30 per cent. —5,809,085 in 1924 as against 4,295,159 in 1923; bus miles run, 1,211,235 in 1924 as against 872,0J8 in 1923. The records of the company indicate that almost every week traffic is growing, and there is every reason to believe that at the completion of the 'present year new records will have been established for their road passenger services.
The company's administration headquarters at Atherton are situated right in the heart of industrial Lancashire, within easy reach of Manchester, Warrington and Liverpool, and the whole of this area,poptilated by several millions of 'people, is effectively tapped by three different types of vehicle,—(1) motorbus, (2) motor coach, (8) electric tramcar, The company operate 39 miles of tram track, which radiates from Atherton and serves such places as Leigh, Lowton St. Mary's, Ashton, Hindley, Swinton, Mosley Cowmen, Newton, Walliden, etc. The bus services aim at fulfilling a fanction which more than links up the dead-ends of the tramways system, and a study -of the map of' routes which we reproduce gives an idea of the importance of the coreh pany's activities in this small but important section of South-west Lancashire.
In the east, the company's services link up with Salford ; in the north with Bury, Bolton, Prescot, Wigan; in the west with St. Helens (thus providing communication through to Liverpool). and in the south with Warrington. Apart from the corporation tramways systems with which motor buses eannect, the motorbuses also join up with the ettensive road motor services of the Crosville Motor Co., Ltd., of Chester, and the Ribble Motor Services, Ltd., of Preston. These two companies, with the Lancashire United Tramways, Ltd., constitute a formidable triumvirate, and between them they are responsible for the use of a fleet of well over 400 motor units. . At the present time the Lancashire United Tramways, Ltd., operate 52 buses of A.E.C., Dennis and Bristol makes. The Bristol vehicles inciiide some 20-seaters equipped with pneumatic tyres, which were purchased as an experiment, and, so far, have given excellent service. On the occasion of our visit, the delivery was being awaited of a group of new Leyland buses, 20 of which were then on order.
Mr. E. H. Edwartles, A.M.I.E.E., the general manager of the company, has paid considerable attention to evolving a type of body which will be particularly serviceable for the work the new Vehicles are intended to undertake. Further details of this new type of bus, which were received too late for inclusion in this article, are published this
week under the heading of our featUre entitled "Passenger, Travel News," where interior and exterior views of the vehicle will also be found.
Altogether 19 services are maintained; some of the subsidiary ones are not run on consecutive days. Amongst the newer services are those from Leigh to Wigan, Billinge, Garwood and Car Mill Dam, and the institution of further new services is under consideration. The motorbus service on the Trafford Park Estate, Manchester, hitherto operated by the Trafford Park Co., is, we are told, being taken over by the Lancashire United Tramways, Ltd., and workmen's buses are being run between Eccles and the Trafford Park Estate.The L.U.T. Co. recently absorbed the service operated between Irlam, Peel Green and Cadishead, this having been operated for many years by Messrs. Robey.
The total mileage of the company's bus routes is now about 150, and whereas twelve months ago the average number of buses in daily service was 24, the figure is now 40 per day. The company operate about 20 bus routes in addition to several tramway services.
During the past year the company have reviewed the fares and length of stages and, in many instances, have made concessions. Notwithstanding the general minimum of lid. per Passenger on some routes, id. stages have been introduced., and they have been found to fulfil a great popular need. The length of the stage for a 1 d. fare is about 1,000 yards. Another importeat move made by the company has been to extend the facilities for obtain
ing cheap workmen's tickets. These concessions have had a very perceptible effect on the net average takings per mile.
The ld. fare, however, is not the most popular, pride of place being held by the 2d. fare, and according to the analyses of fares paid, the average is now 2.99d. per passenger, as against 3.02d. in 1923. The second most popular fare is the 3d., then comes the 4d. fare, followed by the 1d. and 5d. fares. The average fare of 2d. is twice as popular as the 3d. fare, reckoning on the basis of the tickets actually sold. The -fares on the company's vehicles range from 1d. to is., and some idea of the extent of the services can be gleaned from the following summary :—
s. d. Leigh, Newton and AshLeigh, iiewton and WarLowton, EarlestoWn and Leigh, Croft and NewLeigh, Earlestown an.d
ton 7 0 9.
rington ... ... 8 0 9 St. Tlelene a o 9 Haydoek .., ... ... 5 0 11
church... .. ... 6 0 7 Leigh, Croft and War rington .... 6 1 3 Biekershaw, Abram and Warrington 6 3. 3 Tyldesley and Astiey _ 17 0 3 " Black Horse " and
Bingley Bridge ... ... 11 — Me number of journeys is double on Saturdays.). Leigh and Boothstown_ 18 1 0 Wigan, Abram and Warrington ... .„ . 5 Wigan and West Hough.
ton ... ... ... 27 Swinton, Irlam and Warrington _ ... 50 1.,Vh, Abram and 10 Atherton and Elindley_ 9 Warrington and St.
Helens 6 10 Leigh and Warrington... 7 1
Leigh, Gob/on and Ash• 010
14 1 8
O 9 O 9
On all the bus services the company undertake to convey a limited number of parcels, carriage paid, provided they are met at the other end, or can bedelivered on the main route only. These parcels are banded to the conductors at any stopping place on the system, and conductors collect payment and issue a receipt for the amount charged. Parcels are not accepted for delivery at addresses which are not on the specified omnibus routes, and, in such circumstances, consignors are requested to make their own arrangements with the consignees and indicate *here parcels may be left until called for. Parcel traffic is restricted to the hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, and is not dealt with on Sundays and holidays. Parcels not exceeding 7 lb. in weight are charged 3d., whilst those not weighing more than 56 lb. are charged 9d.
The company pride themselves upon having evolved a ticket and record system as efficient as, if not more than, can be found anywhere. It combines the merit of simplicity with those of economy, precision and service. As is well known, most bus companies issue passenger tickets under a series letter, and tickets bear a consecutive number from 0001 up to 9999.
Now the system of the Lancashire United Tramways, Ltd., identifies the ticket with the conductor, by making the code sign the number of the conductor by whom it is issued. Thus tickets, instead of being handed out under initials "A," "B," "C," etc., bear numbers from 1 up to about 150, this being the actual number of conductors in the company's service. Each conductor has a badge, which also corresponds with the index number of his tickets.
Special arrangements are made for the storing of tickets, which are kept in bulk in huge racks. At the time of our visit there were about 60 million tickets In stock. For day-to-day supplies, a series of racks is employed. These are numbered from 1 up to about 150. Each separate number covers a series of pigeon-holes, and each contains bundles of tickets to the value of from id. each up to is. When the conductor returns his cashbox at the end of the day's work, the cash is checked and the ticket box goes to the records department, where the way-bill is examined and ticket supplies replenished.