Page images
PDF
EPUB

of furnishing information to individual stockholders of corporations is not in harmony with the best thought on this subject, and indeed the exercise of this discretionary power under such circumstances would seem to be ridiculous. Just what interest would be served, or what purpose accomplished by requiring a report of the Western Maryland Railroad Company of receipts and expenditures for operations on this particular part of its system is not disclosed in the complaint. Certainly there is no evidence, no suggestion, no claim or declaration of any kind that the public interests are to be conserved in the requiring of such special report from the Western Maryland Railroad Company.

Believing therefore that the blank forms in use in this office for the annual reports of operating and subsidiary companies are in ac cordance with the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth, and that no public interests can be conserved by requiring a special report as is discretionary with the Secretary of Internal Affairs, under Section 11, Article 17 of the Constitution, I respectfully refuse to take the action suggested in the petition of the complainant.

ISAAC B. BROWN.

Secretary of Internal Affairs.

THE REDUCTION IN GENERAL OF PASSENGER RATES OF TRANSPORTATION.

Another favorable feature in regard to passenger transportation in Pennsylvania is the general reduction of the maximum rates. In the original charter of the Pennsylvania Railroad it was provided that rates should be reasonable, but that the company should not charge more than 3 cents a mile for local passenger traffic, and 3 cents a mile for through passenger traffic. The 31 cent rate was observed until something like 25 years ago, when that was reduced to 3 cents, and during the year 1906 a further reduction was made to 2 cents per passenger per mile. This rate prevails quite generally on the leading railroads of Pennsylvania.

It is probable that the railroad corporations can make more money in carrying passengers at 2 cents per mile now than they could formerly at 3 cents per mile. However that may be, the reduction of rates of passenger traffic as vouchsafed in the introduction of the new mileage book and the reduction of one half cent per passenger per mile should be highly commended at this time, When it is considered that in the last few years there has been a material advance in the expense of labor, of all material and uses

concerned in the maintenance and operation of railroads, the voluntary reduction indicated could hardly be reasonably expected.

The average daily, monthly and annual per capita compensation to railway employes has greatly increased: A marvelous increase is found in the cost of iron and steel, both of which are such expeǹsive factors in the construction, operation, and maintenance of railroad. The price of coal has also greatly advanced. These and all other factors without exception that go into the expenses of operation and maintenance have so far increased as to produce wonderful changes in the results of revenues from operation. Notwithstanding these things, the introduction of economies, improvements and devices has made it possible for the railroad companies to carry passengers at the reduced figures indicated by the sale of the mileage book and the new general rates of passenger transportation.

THE ABOLISHMENT OF THE PASS.

Another feature of management in passenger transportation which should receive universal consideration is the abolishment of the pass system. On account of the abandonment, it is altogether probable that the railroad companies are receiving additional revenues, thus enabling them to make some of the reductions referred to.

Under a Republican form of government it has undoubtedly seemed to railway managements a necessity to favor certain political or party leaders and their followers with free transportation. It has been alleged that notwithstanding the fact that railroad companies have been very liberal with transportation in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the State goverment, yet they have not had more at the hands of these branches of the State government than they are justly entitled to. There is undoubtedly some foundation as a basis from which to make this allegation and it would be difficult to arrive at any conclusion upon this subject.

If in the administration of affairs of the Executive Department, the judicial and the legislative branches of the State government a pass has been the cause of coloring opinions, arriving at conclusions, or controlling actions, then the pass has been a great wrong and should have been abolished years ago. Certain it is that the railroad pass was bad in principle. It never has and never can stand the light of day.

Executive officers charged with the duty of passing upon rights existing between the people and the carrier; the members of the General Assembly who are called upon to vote upon legislation concern

ing the welfare of railroads, or restricting their actions on lines favorable to the people, if they have been well supplied with transportation, have been men of resolute character if they have at no time deviated one iota from the straightforward course which should at all times characterize all public officials in dealing with public interests. In a judicial opinion that condemns discrimination as against public policy and as an offence against commerce, there is a lack of consistency in all that pertains to the opinion if the Judge when writing the same has a pocket well filled with railroad transportation. So it may be said of those who handle the Legislative branch of the government, and equally true it is of those who are charged with the administration of affairs regarding railroads.

In the Department of Internal Affairs is the Bureau of Railways and many courtesies have been received by the officers, clerks and employes of that Bureau, but it is submitted that if fairness characterized all the transactions of the officers, clerks and employes of that Bureau in the discharge of their public duties, there is an inconsistency in the position of an officer who demands a uniformity of rates of both passenger and freight transportation, demands also absolute freedom from all species of discrimination and at the same time has in his pass book the evidences of discrimination in the way of passenger traffic, of a serious character. No man who regards the welfare of the State and feels that transportation facilities should be uniform and that there should be freedom from discrimination, taking into consideration also the provision contained in the 17th Article of the Constitution, could be entirely justified and unconcerned to flash his cardboard entitling him to free transportation before the eyes of some good citizen of the Commonwealth who was just as much entitled to the distinction as the man thus favored with free transportation by the railroad company.

To put such a condition in its mildest form, it was demoralizing. It filled the honest man with apprehension lest all was not fair in the public affairs of the State. It is not alleged that there was ever a wrong thing done by reason of the existence of the pass system, but in its abolishment the suspicion of wrong has also been eliminated from the official affairs of the State, whether the same relate to the executive the judicial or the legislative branch of the government.

It is the opinion of the present Secretary of Internal Affairs that the pass question has been permanently eliminated. The enforcement of Article 17 of the Constitution makes its return absolutely impossible and we may expect that there will be uniformity of rates, uniformity of conveniences, uniformity of comforts and no discrimi

I-9-1906

nation in the transportation of passengers on lines of railroad in Pennsylvania. The passing of the pass is another feature of the change in transportation affairs of Pennsylvania which is most highly to be commended, both from the point of view of the welfare of the public and of the railroads.

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RAILWAY COMMISSIONERS.

In 1889 Judge Cooley was President of the Interstate Commerce Commission at Washington and he issued a call for the members of Boards of Railway Commissioners in the several states and other State officers exercising supervision over railway corporations, to meet in convention in the rooms of the Interstate Commerce Commission at Washington.

The purpose to be accomplished in the assembling of these officials, as Judge Cooley indicated in his formal address, was to assimilate the laws in the several states of the union in regard to the control of common carrier corporations, to make these laws, so far as might be practicable, in harmony on the question of regulation, with the national statutes which created the Interstate Commerce Commission and established and prescribed its duties with regard to railroad companies engaged in the transportation of interstate commerce.

The importance of such assimilation of laws was to some extent comprehended at the first meeting. At that time the Act to regulate commerce had been more or less ineffectual; but little had been done to eliminate the wrongs which existed in the way of discrimination. Unlawful combinations were discovered on all sides and the proper authorities seemed somewhat helpless to give the relief which was sought in the passage of laws not only by Congress, but also in the several states in regard to uniformity in rates of transportation. It was found that it was not possible at that session to accomplish all that was desired. The present Secretary of Internal Affairs, then a member of the Convention as Deputy Secretary and Superintendent of the Bureau of Railways, offered a resolution providing for the establishment of a permanent organization with annual meetings or conferences with a view of advancing so far as possible the purpose of securing uniform laws and uniform regulations regarding railroads throughout the country.

Since that time annual conventions have been held. The last one convened in Washington in April, 1906. Among the subjects which were discussed and upon which reports of committees were received were the following:

1. Construction and operating expenses of electric railways.

2. Recommendation of laws regarding the elimination of grade crossings.

3. Uniform laws relating to railroad taxes and plans for ascertaining fair valuation of railroad property.

4. The proposed amendment to the act to regulate commerce. 5. The powers, duties and work of State Railway Commissions. 6. Railroad statistics.

7. Uniform classifications of freight.

8. Legislation.

9. The introduction of safety appliances.

10. Details attendant upon enforcing orders of Railroad Commissions.

11. Rates and rate making.

12. Demurrage or charges for the use of cars when waiting to be loaded or unloaded.

The members of the National Association of Railway Commissioners from Pennsylvania entitled to seats in the Convention were the Secretary of Internal Affairs, the Superintendent and the As sistant Superintendent of the Bureau of Railways.

The Secretary of Internal Affairs was at this Convention Chairman of the Executive Committee, a position which he has held for some ten or twelve years, and also a member of the Committee on Legislation.

Mr. W. W. Morgaridge was Chairman of the Committee on Construction and Operating Expenses of Electric Railways.

Mr. Theodore B. Klein read an address before the Convention, having reference to the importance of railroads in commerce and the duties devolving upon those officials who are charged with the duty of supervision.

At the time of the holding of this Convention the members of both the Senate and the House of our national Congress were devoting a large amount of study to the rate problem, especially as to the powers which Congress possessed in regard to the adjustment of rates on railroads engaged in the transportation of interstate com merce. Conflicting opinions were promulgated on all sides. The old questions of the powers of the State to control all these matters were discussed and the right of Congress to adjust rates was denied, both views being supported with arguments of a forcible and almost inexhaustible character. The President of the United States, however, was stern in his demands for the passage of the law which should assert the power of the national government to control the question of rates by virtue of delegated power in the national constitution to regulate interstate commerce. In the discussion on this subject party lines were eliminated and finally a bill was formulated which seemed to meet the views of the President and conform to the consensus of opinion of those who believe in national

« PreviousContinue »