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bility and financial results of which have been thoroughly tested and adequately proved. But such is not the case. As a matter of fact, the proposition to make such a change in our transportation system not only is one which no intelligent merchant or manufacturer would recommend, if he knew the facts, but is a venture, not merely wild, but literally impossible.

The traffic which it is proposed to handle in this way will in five years' time require, for Massachusetts alone, at least 2000 miles of main highways constructed primarily for that purpose, at a cost exceeding $40,000 per mile, or a total of $80,000,000. Such a sum of money cannot be raised and economically spent in the brief space of time within which the work must be done; for unless the thing is done promptly, our industrial life will be strangled. But even if it were possible, the result would be a system of transportation so costly in operation as to be prohibitive. The cost per ton-mile of handling freight in such a way would be more than the traffic would bear; and if the money were raised and spent, it would be wasted. This can be shown by figures which, while subject to much uncertainty, are adequate for the purpose.

It now costs from 15 to 50 cents per ton-mile for motor-truck operation, depending upon two variables - the distance hauled and the so-called loadfactor. By load-factor is meant the ratio between the maximum number of ton-miles per day that a truck can transport and the actual number of tonmiles transported. It is the habit of motor-truck manufacturers and operators to figure a load-factor of 50 or 60 per cent; but this is certainly too high, though it is difficult to say exactly what the figure should be. But considering that these trucks are to replace our freight cars, and that in New Eng

land the load-factor on a freight car is certainly less than 5 per cent, the above figures are wholly unreasonable. If a load-factor of 20 per cent were obtained, it would indeed be remarkable. At this load-factor, operating costs per tonmile, without profit, will vary from 30 to 40 cents, according to conditions.

To this figure the intelligent critic may object, on the ground that, the truck being a relatively new device, great economies in fuel are to be looked for; but in the first place, fuel is a relatively small item, and in the second place, it must be remembered that, as time goes on, the wages cost, which even now is a large item, will tend to increase. Compared with railroad wages to-day, this cost is very low, and it is practically certain that operators cannot be found in large numbers who will work regularly for the wages and under the working conditions now in effect. Looking five years ahead, therefore, and adding to the operating cost the fixed charges and maintenance of way and structures, it seems clear that the average cost per ton-mile of this method of transportation will not fall below 50 cents. The present cost of way and structures is estimated at 33 cents per ton-mile. If in the next five years the traffic doubles annually, which would mean a traffic of 60,000,000 ton-miles, this might come down to ten cents. If the trucks were taxed ten cents per tonmile, this would produce an income of $6,000,000 per year, which, added to the $3,500,000 in fees now assessed, is hardly enough to meet the necessary expenditures. But at this rate, assuming a 20 per cent load-factor, about 10,000 trucks would be required, and the tax per truck would be $600 per year. Compare the present license fee, and note what the tax-payer is contributing.

We are, then, in this position: in order to provide and maintain the necessary right of way to do the business,

an annual expenditure of more than $10,000,000 during the next five years will be necessary; and when the job is done, we shall have created a system, the operating cost of which will be prohibitive. Obviously, this is no solution of our problem. Better to pay the money to the present owners of the railroads, whose rights of way have already cost twice the sum which it is now proposed to spend in duplicating them, and are far better adapted for the purpose.

This is not a fact, however, which should cause the legitimate and farsighted truck-manufacturer any alarm. He is engaged in a great permanent industry, not in raising mushrooms. Sound, steady expansion upon a firm foundation is his watchword and his goal, and any movement which tends to throw upon him a sudden but ephemeral demand will damage him. A great structure, built upon a quicksand, that will topple over and crush him, would be an unmitigated misfortune, which he will be the last to encourage. He is to-day painfully digging himself out of such a crumbling ruin resulting from the war boom, and he will not need a second object-lesson. The burnt child dreads the fire.

We are clearly driven to the conclusion that the only way out of the dilemma (if there be any) is by improving and cheapening our local railroad freight-service. Perhaps this is impossible; perhaps we are in a blind alley from which there is no way out. But have we really tried to escape? Have we put our best brains and energy into a desperate effort to improve our railroad service? Have we employed the best methods that the keenest business imagination can devise to help us? Of course we have done nothing of the kind. Look at the railroads of New England to-day and the conditions under which they operate.


The railroad system of New England -into which the investing public has already poured the best part of a billion dollars, to which should be added annually $25,000,000 more to keep it up-todate- is the greatest single industry we have. At the head are a group of over-driven slaves, beaten from pillar to post by government officials and labor-union leaders, and under them a small army of operating men in a semimutinous condition, whose principal aim at the present time seems to be to secure as high wages and do as little work as possible. Here is a business in the management of which the highest degree of skill, coöperation, and imaginative power must be employed and allowed to function in the most efficient manner. But we have either failed to show great skill in selecting the executive officers, or have forced them to work under impossible conditions.

The freight-traffic of New England is peculiar. Unlike that of our great Western states (or even that which the great trunk lines handle), the business of New England is largely in less than car-load lots. New England is, in fact, far more like old England, and has properly been compared to a huge terminal. In the conduct of this business, we have allowed ourselves to be dominated one might almost say hypnotized by the ideas of train-load and motive power associated with the great name of James J. Hill. The bankers have selected Western men to operate our systems, with lawyers and politicians of the old New England school for their adjutants and advisers.

It is a fundamental axiom of life that no great operation can be carried on without team-work- the most active and loyal coöperation between all members of the organization, from top to bottom. The capacity for team-work

(that vigorous coöperative effort expressive of the militant soul) is the measure of civilization, of the rise of civilized man above the brute. This is fundamental and axiomatic; but to what extent has it been achieved in the railroad business? No one who will take the trouble to talk with the railroad employees need long remain in doubt. The attitude of the great railroad unions and of the individual operative is one of sullen discontent, or active hostility to the executive officers. The system of rules and working conditions on which the men insist seems primarily designed to make the operation of the business as costly and inefficient as possible. In an industry where the prosperity, and even the life, of the community demands maximum efficiency and minimum cost, the great body of the workers spend their best time and effort to frustrate both. Is it strange that the service is unsatisfactory and that costs are high? It would be a miracle if it were otherwise. One risks nothing in saying that the business must be reorganized from top to bottom before it can function properly.

The thing is possible. Many of us can remember the time, a generation ago, when the frame of mind of these railroad workers was radically differ ent: when men were proud of the companies they served, loyal to their interests, and spoke with bated breath of their superior officer as 'the old man,' a term of highest reverence, affection, and respect. We can remember the fine figure of the conductor of the fast train, bowing to his distinguished passengers, all of whom called him by name. That was the spirit necessary for success, but it is conspicuous to-day by its absence. It was the result of a great local enterprise, owned, managed, and operated by local men, on whom the responsibility for success had been squarely placed, and who had been allowed relative free

dom of action. They breathed the free air of their native hills, were honored and respected by their fellow citizens, and, feeling the full weight of responsibility with power, met the test.

The conditions which have produced the ruin that we now face belong, perhaps, in the province of the philosopher rather than the statesman, but some comprehension of them is essential; for the men who must to-day get us out of this tangle are like the doctor who must diagnose the disease before he can cure it.

The public mind has been directed during recent years to blunders and scandals of a financial character, which are supposed to be the root cause of the present collapse; and doubtless they have contributed to it. But they are not the main cause. The failure is in management, not in finance. Either this great industry has assumed proportions beyond the power of men to deal with, or through lack of sufficient imagination and grasp of the nature of the problem, the owners and the public have failed to attract, or have driven to distraction, the type of man that was needed. That the industry has become very large, that such men as are needed to run it successfully are rare, no one will deny. But we cannot afford to admit that the job is beyond our power. The word 'impossible' is not popular with our people. Where there's a will, there's a way.

On the other hand, that we have failed to get the right managers, or that, having got them, we have not allowed them to do their work, is also clear; and before we discharge them as incompetent, we are bound in fairness to consider the conditions under which we have placed them.

Public regulation of the industry began fifty years ago; but only within twenty-five years did it become general and of decisive importance. During

the latter period, however, the railroad systems of New England have been under the strictest supervision of eight independent regulative commissions, each supreme in its own jurisdiction (the limits of which were not always clear), each holding divergent views as to the policy to be pursued, and unanimous only in this, that railroad executives were naughty boys, who needed stern discipline; and the rod has not been spared. As a result, the major portion of these men's time has been spent in attending public hearings, in preparing to attend them, or in endeavoring to act in such a way that they would not have to. Little time or energy has been left them to consider how to run the business so as to meet the rapidly changing conditions; and they have had less than no encouragement to look into the future with the keen constructive insight which was essential to success. They have been forced into the ignoble position of holding responsibility without real power, of being accountable for results which they did not cause, and of being blamed for every failure, whether brought about by them or by others.

Note, also, that men browbeaten as these men have been are not likely to overflow with the milk of human kindness, and may pass on similar treatment to their subordinates. Whatever the native capacity of the railroad executives, therefore, clearly they have labored under insuperable obstacles. The power to regulate, like the power to tax, is the power to destroy, and public regulation in New England has in this respect achieved a notable success.


The time has come, however, when the business men of New England must make radical improvements in the whole railroad situation, or we die.

Freight rates and services and (to a lesser degree) passenger business must be cheapened and improved, or New England industries will perish. A system of motor-transportation is no remedy, nor is government ownership and operation. The collapse is not due primarily to financial failure, but to failure of the human element; and in this respect, government officials, under present conditions, will not act with more vision, intelligence, and energy than private officials. The essential thing is that the public (that is, the tax-payer) should clearly grasp the fact that this is a matter of life or death, and determine to meet it with the desperate energy which alone will bring


The two main issues that must be grasped are: first, that the railroad industry (like all others) must be conducted by a group of men enthusiastically interested in their work and loyal to it and to each other from top to bottom; and second, that the conditions of traffic of New England are not like those of the West and South, but more like those of Europe, and must be studied and dealt with as such.

It is the industrial life of New England that is at stake, and our hope must rest on New England men. The West has its own problems to worry over, and the type of brains and energy which have made New England industrially great must save us now, or we perish. We must rely on Eastern men - not men steeped in and hypnotized by the ideas of train-load and motive power invented by Jim Hill to solve the trafficproblems of the great-plains states. For observe that the local traffic of New England is much of it in less than carload lots. Freight cars of thirty to fifty tons' capacity are not what our traffic requires. The five-ton motor-truck, or the five-ton railway-van used in England, is more suited to our conditions.

Light trains and speed in handling must be the order of the new day.

One of the most serious stumblingblocks in our local freight situation today is the cost and the delay in handling at terminals. Our present system of freight-houses and freight-handling is calculated to produce a maximum of both. It must be done away with. New methods must be devised. Already the lines along which these methods will run are beginning to appear. The motor-truck has replaced the horse for local haulage. Removable bodies, which can be loaded by the merchant or manufacturer in his shipping-room and slid on to the motor-chassis that backs into the room, will take the goods to a freight-yard (not a freight-house) where overhead traveling-cranes will hoist these bodies over as many intervening tracks as is necessary to deposit them on freight-cars placed according to their destination, one or several bodies on each car. If necessary, tarpaulins can be stretched over them for protection against the weather, and the trains will be made up in small units, hauled by light, economical engines (which in the not-distant future will be electric). Such trains will be dispatched at frequent intervals, and unloaded by the same method at their destination. The business of transporting goods to and from the freight-yards can, if necessary, be done by the railroad companies themselves (as it is in England); but it will probably be wiser to leave this part of the operation in the hands of separate local agencies.

By some such method deliveries of much of the local freight can be greatly speeded up and costs of handling reduced; and, as to the balance, systems of handling by small electric trucks at the freight-house, such as are now being tried in the Milwaukee freight-house of the St. Paul, will save much manpower and reduce costs.

However, it is not by the increased use of machinery alone that the cost of handling freight can be cut down. Better organization of man-power and a better spirit in the men can result in an increased efficiency which would cut the handling cost in two. No freighthandler need fear the loss of his job. His future is in his own hands; for, if he will use his head as well as his hands, and put will-power behind both, no machine can displace him. But he must now face the music, for the tax-payer, once thoroughly aroused, will insist that he shall handsomely earn his pay or give way to a machine that will

Just what the cost of handling local freight by rail ought to be, it is perhaps impossible to say; but some approximation to the point where the dividing line between motor-truck transport and rail transport will come can be made in this way. Assuming a price of 15 cents per hundredweight for cost of delivery at the freight-yard and removal therefrom, or about three dollars per ton at each end, we have a fixed charge of six dollars per ton on every ton moved, however far it goes. At a cost of 50 cents per ton-mile for motor transport, six dollars will move a ton twelve miles; so that for this and shorter distances the railroad cannot compete. This distance, amounting to six miles at each end of the operation, fairly represents the area of the larger industrial communities, where streets designed for heavy traffic have already been provided; and within these areas the truck will clearly be supreme. Beyond this point, however, the railroad costs should be less, in view of the fact that the Class II rate, within which class most of the local traffic could with skillful readjustment be made to come, is now only five and a half cents, with all the terminal cost upon its head. Even if the cost for hauling local freight is as high as five cents, plus the cost of hand

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