Truck versus Train

ERLAND ECHLIN April 15 1935

Truck versus Train

ERLAND ECHLIN April 15 1935

Truck versus Train


ABOUT AN HOUR before quitting time on Friday

night, the foreman on the job walked over to the construction shack.

“We’re going to need a couple of hundred feet more of that heavy wire cable,” he told the superintendent.

“Okay,” the chief replied, “but it’s a fine time to tell me; you won’t get it now till Monday.” He picked up the phone and called the shipper ninety miles away.

"There’s a question for you,” he laughed as he finished the order. “They wanted to know if they’d ship by truck to a government job. If we stop using the railways, the railways might as well fold up.”

Monday came but no cable. There had been a delay at a junction point. By noon the foreman was frantic. Getting the shipper on the phone again, an extra length was put on the mid-day truck—“three shipments daily”—and by evening the new cable was in use. When the railroad shipment arrived the following day, it was sent back.

There you have two ideas that are growing in the public mind—that it is quicker to ship by truck, and that the railroads are gradually losing more and more revenue as a result of truck competition. To send a shipment by rail from Saint John to Fredericton, Edmonton to Wetaskiwin, or Toronto to London requires the service of a gigantic locomotive, a train of cars, two of the very motor trucks which the railroads oppose, two stations, two warehouses—and eleven men.

For the delivery of my 100-pound box, I telephoned the railroad freight office. The order taker notifies the platform boss, who tells a truck driver to call for my goods. My box is taken to a freight warehouse, where men transfer it to a train which is manned by a conductor, an engineer, a fireman and two brakemen. A train dispatcher guides the movement of the train, and a station agent at each end guarantees safe conduct. At the delivery point the following day it is unloaded, warehoused and trucked to its destination. Left out are various intermediaries, several in number, who service the principals.

Or I can call up a truck driver, who will pick up and deliver my merchandise the same day—one man, one truck.

It is more convenient, that’s bad; it is quicker, that’s worse; but the insurmountable fact that faces the railways is that, for short hauls, it is cheaper. And as worried executives in Montreal contemplate their problem, new troubles raise their streamlined, Diesel-driven heads above tomorrow’s horizon. For seventy years the railroads have rested easily; now Gulliver has been bound hand and foot by the Lilliputians.

The Fight for Short-Haul Freight

AT THE outset, bear in mind that the railways still haul ^ about ninety-seven per cent of the freight and the motor truck three per cent. Then let me try to explain how deceptive this picture is. The railroads carry around 75,000.000 tons a year of commodities of all kinds, but of these only about twenty per cent are manufactured goods and merchandise. The big balance is made up generally of raw materials—mineral, agricultural, forest and animal products. Formerly the railroads took their revenue from the long, heavy haul; now they say this is carried at a loss, and that the once despised short-haul manufactured product is the revenue producer. If the latter is true it is indeed unfortunate for the railroads, for it is into that profitable short haul that the trucks have taken their big bite.

No man knows how big a bite, for records are not the strong point of the trucking business. Railroad economic bureaus estimate the “over the road” tonnage—not counting city traffic—at nearly 2.000.000 tons, and their loss in

revenue due to this item alone at $26,000,000 or close to ten per cent of the gross freight revenue. Those are yearly figures, and they are increasing each year.

In 1917 there was no such thing as a motor-transport business. Here and there in the cities and towns, carters with advanced ideas—and ordinary citizens, mechanically minded but even more hopeful—were chugging about in a rattling contraption called a “truck,” delivering baggage and small parcels. They took in the suburbs, then the nearest towns; but went no farther for the very good reason that there were no roads. There were over 300,000 miles of mere roads, but the day of the highway was only dawning.

Since then 5,000 miles of pavement and 25,000 miles of new gravel have been laid. As each new road was opened, it had its quota of motor trucks ready to begin operations. The radius of successful operation was extended year by year by means of improved motors, bigger trucks, balloon tires, until today it has reached on this continent 1,400 miles. Since 1917 there are a million more vehicles on these roads, of which 166,000 are trucks of all kinds. The methods by which they are handling that three per cent of Canada’s total freight threatens to upset the whole national transportation structure.

The Growth of Trucking

AS THE greatest concentration of trucks, railroads and population in Canada is in Western Ontario, my enquiries were naturally directed to this area. Commercial vehicles in that province are double the number of those of her nearest competitor, Quebec; 67,000 to 30,000. British Columbia is next with 17.000: Saskatchewan and Alberta with 15,000 each; Manitoba 10.000; and the three Maritime provinces, 12,000. Between the provinces there is no uniformity of regulation or control, each having its own special conditions of weather, roads and topography to face. The several-angled, intensive study now being conducted in Ontario may have a bearing on its treatment elsewhere. At the moment regulation is in a hopeless tangle.

For fifteen years, commercial vehicles in Ontario were dealt with in the same manner as private cars. They required a license; that was all. In 1928 they became “common carriers,” and only four years ago began to be classified according to work and weight. Even so, this does not concern ninety-six per cent of the trucks—all those owned and engaged in private business—but only those 4,000 public vehicles that carry goods over the provincial highways.

The result of the years of lack of control has been that the trucking business has “just grown.” The following examples illustrate its development better than any maze of statistics. Incidentally, there are no figures available; no charts having been kept of this lusty, untrained, greedy and undisciplined baby.

When Bob Thomas came home from the war he put his gratuity into a truck. To operate on the then new TorontoHamilton highway, which was paved in 1917, he turned in his city vehicle for one that could be used to transport goods over the forty-four miles of new road. He figured his rates simply by cutting under the lowest existing transportation cost. In spite of tire and engine trouble, minor accidents and weather, he did fine. Every morning he left Toronto with what he could get to carry, and in the afternoon returned from Hamilton with as much of a load as he could pick up there. Soon he had regular customers at both ends. Being a careful and considerate handler, these customers have stayed with him at top rates—30 cents per 100 pounds— for fifteen years.

While Thomas was learning the trucking business he paid for a house, a big garage at the rear where he keeps his truck (and his own handsome automobile), raised a family and today has ample reserves of cash in the bank. He knows

how to buy oil and gas at low prices, does his own repairs, and within his limits has put his business on a scientific basis. Because he is strictly honest, energetic and thoroughly knows his job, he is not afraid of fair competition. But this superior Canadian has two worries: Will the lobbying big trucking interests drive him off the road; or will the province or railroads or both have him taxed out of business?

There are many like him. For their trucks that carry five tons, they have paid around $3,000—equipment that has a life of about five years. In annual charges they pay $200 in license fees, $250 insurance, unloading fees in most towns, and $900 for gas and oil in which is a $200 provincial tax. A helper may get $1.000 a year. Then there is the upkeep of his lorry, and heavy sundry expenses. Steady half loads, improbable as they are each and every day, would give him a gross income of $9.000 a year. By the time he has paid himself wages, his profit, at the best is not unreasonable.

Jack Doe is another kind of individualist; a product of the credit system. With 200 borrowed dollars, he came on the highway about 1925 in an installment-plan truck. Instead of providing for depreciation, he used the money for expansion. hired drivers and became a boss with an office. Whatever the rates were, standard or special, he cut them to get

business, taking it out of his drivers and creditors. This kind of business man is present in every activity, but on the roads, with overworked employees and machines, he becomes a menace to public safety. Hence one need for strict Government supervision.

When events finally overtake the fleet “owner,” Jack Doe, his trucks are repossessed, and his business, with confusion to all, is closed out. He may become someone’s manager or, with his “experience,” find new groups to trust him—and other trucks under a slightly different name are back on the road. This destructive process can go on indefinitely.

There is the second-hand trucker, the man who picks up machines for a song and operates, while he lasts, at any rate he can get. And there is the trucker licensed to carry commodities of one firm and one kind to terminal points, and who illegally brings, or bootlegs, at low rates, all kinds of merchandise on the return load.

Then there is the big fellow; the legitimate, progressive transport company. By degrees, by taking advantage of every favorable circumstance, they have built up transportation systems covering the whole province and extending across the border into the United States. They run on schedules like trains from Toronto to Windsor, Montreal

and Ottawa. They print fixed rates; so fixed that they are unalterable except where it is necessary to get business, then they are lowered. Expanded on credit and hope, few are in a solid position. Some are so deeply in debt to oil companies that the latter are their unwilling partners. They operate from thirty to 200 units, savage competitors all. And with all the vices of unregulated growth—long hours, low wages and strain in a business that concerns the safety of the public.

These are entering the railroad class, with depots, warehouses, offices and agents; and with the attendant disadvantages. They go through all the motions of rail service; pick-up trucks, transshipment and two handlings en route, with delivery by another special truck from the warehouse at the goods’ destination. As yet they do not know whether the cost of a short-haul full load balances the expense of extra equipment installed for this purpose. Weak on economy and cost accounting, they are mighty haulers of merchandise, claiming a radius of profitable operation of nearly 400 miles.

With trucks—and certainly partly because of trucks— came a change in the purchasing habits of the nation. Many of the 100,000 retail outlets of Canada that formerly placed huge spring and fall carload-lot orders now buy twelve times a year—smaller deliveries peculiarly suitable to transport by motor vehicle. Variable rates by truckers, enabling one merchant to buy cheaper than another, quickly reach the consumer, notably in food stuffs.

Private Trucking

SIDE BY SIDE with the big operators but not a part of them, are the private firms who handle their own supplies with their own trucks, or by contract with exclusive truckers. The most noted of these is a chain-store organization that sends groceries daily from its ultra modem warehouse in Toronto to stores in all parts of Ontario—fifty monster trucks, some carrying as much as twenty tons, every one with goods formerly handled by rail. Returning, they load up at canning factories, fruit farms and cereal plants, and get a full allowance for a shipment which costs them a fractional amount of time, gas and oil. They have to come back anyway.

Whatever the merits of chain stores, they are part of today’s system; and this smart firm might well be the model for all who move goods by truck. Overhead tramlines and fast electric trucks carry merchandise through the warehouse. Big transport vehicles, their floors level with modem sawtooth bay platforms, are filled by highspeed electric loaders. In their shops they do their own servicing of equipment, repairs, welding and assembling. Rubber-tired cabinets of tools—tool toters—speed the task. With close checking, a new type of truck is being operated to determine its ultimate value. Almost alone, they are anticipating the future.

On the road their drivers, under a mileage and tonnage piecework system with a bonus, earn up to $40 a week; helpers up to $25. These factors added together have helped to produce an unequalled record of freedom from accidents, their prize driver having gone nearly 200,000 miles without scraping a fender.

Except that they are serious competitors of the railroads, they do not enter the trucking picture. Only their own goods are handled. But their smooth operation is in sharp contrast with the fierce rivalry that exists in the first four classes mentioned. There are no standards, and right now but one aim—survival. One rate between Toronto and Hamilton is 30 cents per 100 lbs. A bigger firm will carry it for 25 cents; another for 10 cents. And one driver has gone as low as 8 cents for 100 pounds. Wages have varied from 75 cents for a ten-hour day to $6 for a seventy-two-hour week. The law says ten hours is the limit a man may be in the cab of a

truck. Yet in the York Sessions of the Peace a few weeks ago, evidence was given that a prominent transport firm had its driver at the wheel for thirty hours without a break. He had driven a fifty-foot truck and trailer from Montreal to Toronto and was halfway back when stopped.

I impute no lack of good will to the operators big or small. They must fight, cut each other’s throats, or perish. The province has laws and regulations galore, but they are not enforced. The Parliament Buildings frankly admit that the situation is out of hand. Among the truckers a powerful association is fighting for their rights, but the association cannot get even its own members to adhere to minimum rates. I tried to find out if they were concerned with competition from the railroads, but failed to raise as much as a flicker of interest. Their troubles are internal. The railroads have long since faded from the picture except as a legislative enemy.

Across Canada somewhat similar conditions prevail. In Quebec it is worse; in Manitoba, better. Speaking for Alberta, Gordon Wilson, a prominent Edmonton transport official said recently in Bus and Truck Transport in Canada: “If railroads get the legislation they are sponsoring, everybody else will be regulated out of transportation.”

Now what has hapixmed to the railroads? What do they think of this competitor that has rolled an important section of their business flat under its balloon tires?

What Are the Railroads Doing?

I WENT to Montreal. There, in Windsor Street, and lower McGill Street, my impression was of the solidity of railroad entrenchment. Representing 38.000 miles of line and four billion dollars of capital, upholders of national prestige and more than knee-deep in a political morass, they can make no sudden move, whatever the game. But the mouse of truck competition has the railway elephant frightened, for it lives on its life’s blood, freight rates. The powerful, red-corpuscled monster of 1900 may soon be a white elephant.

Exactly 100 years ago the first railroad line was laid in Canada. The cars, over its sixteen miles of track, were drawn by horses. It took fifteen years to build the next fifty miles, but from that point on, construction never ceased until the Great War. Big construction; for only two countries in the world, the United States and Russia, have more railroad track than Canada.

Now, for the handling of freight alone, there are nearly 250,000 carsof all kinds, and 3,000 heavy locomotives to pull them over the rails. At least sixty per cent of the staff, 90,000 men, are engaged in freight service. Competing with these throughout Canada are about 20,(XX) individuals who operate less than 10,000 motor trucks over the highways of the country.

Before trucks were thought of, the railroads, as the only carriers of freight, fixed their rates on the monopolistic principle. They charged all that the traffic would bear. In certain sparsely settled sections through which it was necessary for them to pass to reach profitable centres, rates were under cost. Basic commodities of various kinds were hauled at cost. What was lost in one part was made up in another. These old methods are now advanced as a virtue in the railroads’ plea for protection from the truck. I think it may be safely proved, though, that no private company ever performed any act without a view to its own ultimate profit.

It is true, however, that railroads assume definite duties in the districts they serve, and that they must, long after they have ceased to be profitable, continue to perform those services. Also they must accept all freight that is offered; something which no motor truck is as yet obliged to do. Nevertheless there is a limit to these non-profitable operations, as is evidenced by the fact that eleven intercity electric

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railways have gone out of business in the past nine years, and that the big steam roads liave before them proposals for the abandonment of thousands of miles of line.

The trucks have put them in the position that they must readjust their whole rate structure—with far-reaching effects on the national economy.

What I specifically wanted to know from their head offices was what had they done about competition from highway motor transport? When did their retaliatory efforts start? Road trucking began in 1917, was big by 1920, and the wonder of the man in the street in 1922. In Europe it had been established for ten years. One would have supposed that these enormous companies with—as was the case then—all the money in the world, would have anticipated such development, would have been ready for it, or might even have taken the whole thing in hand from the start.

Did they see it? No.

Were they ready for it? No.

What did they do about it? Nothing.

In 1925 they began their “study” of the problem. This, naturally, took some years. By 1930 they were ready to make the changes in their organizations necessary to accommodate a service that would compete with trucks. This took three years: and in the spring of 1933, or a full fifteen years after the first trucks took the road, the railways struck back.

The kind of freight affected was goods in less than carload lots in hauls up to 250 miles or just what a truck ordinarily handles. Previously, the general tariff had applied to such articles; several different charges according to the nature, packing, weight or fragility of the goods. A separate cartage fee —the antagonizer that was fought for years by shippers—was made at each end. Lnder the new system, at highly competitive rates, the railroad picked up, transported by rail and delivered the customers merchandise for one fiat charge—so much per 100 pounds. Toronto to Niagara Falls, 30 cents; to St. Thomas, 45 cents; to Windsor, 56 cents; with a minimum rate of 50 cents per 100 pounds of shipment. Truck rates tor the same places respectively are 18 cents to 35 cents, minimum 35 cents; 30 to 40 cents, minimum 50 cents; and 43 cents to 52 cents with a minimum of 52 cents. But while railway rates are fixed, no two firms of truckers will quote alike.

To arrive at these charges, the Canadian National Railways took over the books of a private fleet of 1Ö0 trucks for the year 1932 and made an intensive cost study. According to their figures published in The Railway Age recently, it costs $0.0016 to transport 100 pounds a mile, and about 14 cents to pick it up and deliver it. In that are all costs of every kind, and to these figures they are trying to accommodate their services.

The long study and careful preparation by the railroads has resulted in transit of the first order—fast, economical and responsible. Anything picked up today is delivered within a radius of 250 miles tomorrow morning. Freight sheds that formerly opened at eight o’clock and closed at five, now have their hours adjusted individually to give service to customers. No longer are freight cars on this less-than-carload-lot system shunted around the yards for a couple of days before handling; every inbound car is

opened and delivered the morning of its arrival. But the operation up to date applies only to Western Ontario, though over the whole of one system the rates on hundreds of items have been changed to meet truck competition.

In addition, complete truck service between stations has been installed in a few cases where train service has been inconvenient. For nearly two years railroad motor trucks have run on schedule over the highways from Brantford to Kitchener, fortythree miles; Kitchener to Elmira, twelve miles; and London to St. Thomas, eighteen 1 miles. Though it is in conjunction with their rail services and though the trucks are privately owned, running under contract, the railroad here has made a beginning in the highway transport business.

The effect has been to check inroads of trucks into their freight traffic, to recover some of the lost ground, and to form a background for similar action throughout Canada. In the Western Ontario area, lessthan-carload-lot tonnage has increased by about a third over the previous year. In areas where the system was not installed but was comparable, the same kind of freight traffic declined by a fifth. The weak points of the system are that it is entering into competition with the trucks in the short-haul field where they don’t stand a chance of victory, and that as yet no railway executive will say that their new system is operated at a profit.

I would like to go on and tell how the railroads, after nearly a generation of study, have done dozens of other things to keep their place in the transportation field, but there is no more, that’s all there is. The separate express companies have been as badly hit, and compete as keenly as the truckers against their carriers, the railroads. The long-haul and carload-lot freight remains as it was before, while an increasing number of heavy trucks carry the newsprint and machinery that used to be carried by the railroads.

Into the parcels under fifteen pounds, j formerly express, His Majesty’s postoffice I has dipped with great success. Through J Canada’s eighteen canals, as railroad tonnage has declined, national shipping has increased steadily each year. Only the steam railroads have been hit at every pointpassengers and freight down, revenue down, expenses up.

Why did they not move earlier to meet j truck competition? No answer was to be j found in Montreal. In Ottawa, an informed individual told me: “Because they didn’t

care; they were making money up to 1929.”

The years of delay have done the railroads irreparable harm, for in spite of their new excellent services most merchants still think it takes several days to ship freight by rail.

Great Britain’s Example

OTHER COUNTRIES have the same problems. What have they done to meet competition and regulate freight traffic? In the United States, their difficulties are as varied as their states and methods.

A few railroads have gone openly into the trucking business, but most have shied at duplication and self-competition. Wherever necessary, some roads have installed trucks to link up their rail services; the Burlington System, out of Chicago, operates 1,000 miles of bus lines. Like Canada with its Duff Commission, the United States has had a board of investigation at work. A few weeks ago it brought down its report, the prime clause of which was: “Put all carriers on an even competitive footing by authorizing strict and impartial Interstate Commerce Commission regulation of railroads, buses, ships, trucks, airlines and pipelines.”

Another recommendation was the appointment of a sole dictator. The author of the report, Federal Co-ordinator of Transportation, Joseph Bartlett Eastman, is that j

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! now. except that he lacks power to enforce ! all of his decrees. On one of his first moves —

to save the railroads a hundred million dollars a year by rerouting to avoid grades and save time and fuel costs, and the pooling of roads and equipment for efficiency he met with complete opposition on all sides. The “individualism" so highly developed in North America will not give way without a struggle. Comprehensive transportation legislation is expected to be a feature of the I present session of Congress. With twoj thirds of the roads running at a loss, with 750,000 railroaders unemployed and with revenue steadily declining, the United States lines, with their 250,000 miles of track, are trembling on the verge of public ownership.

Great Britain is fai ahead of the rest of us ! in railway methods, trucking equipment and Government control. Perhaps because the problem has been with her longer. Her railroads went into the road-transport business on a wholesale scale and went after business in the same way. They got it. And when they got it, they demanded Government protection. And they got that to such an extent that the private common carrier is strictly limited as to what he shall carry, where and when. It is also a closed business. A beginner scarcely stands a chance of getting a license, for the railroads run everywhere and oppose every application.

British railroads last year operated 6,500 freight trucks and controlled 15,000 motor buses. One road, the Great Western, recently placed orders for 400 more. Any of the four main-line companies will undertake the entire distribution and marketing of a trader’s goods; keeping the books and records as well. Fifty thousand household removals are carried out daily by the railways. Last year they took over two of the biggest private transport companies. Carter Paterson’s and Pickford’s. As a result of the Road and Rail Act of 1933, general standardization of wages, conditions and rates has proceeded rapidly. The law is severely enforced by a Government that stands no nonsense when its largest industry is threatened.

Under twelve licensing authorities, zones of operation are defined; fitness of equipment, necessity for service and responsibility of its performers are approved. The Minister of Transport may. say whether long hauls are to be carried out by truck or train. Traffic Commissioners control the roads, and Appeal Tribunals have been established to hear complaints. The most powerful voice in the business is that of the railroad, hence the small man feels that the “big interests” have triumphed again.

Wild Competition

BECAUSE of Canada’s size, climate and varying conditions including political,

! no such legislation can be looked for here. Also, the highways are under the jurisdiction of each province; so we may anticipate nine different systems of control and nine stages of efficiency. But it is no secret that the railways would like to see something of the British type of regulation. Aiding them is the strong tendency on the part of Parliamentarians to copy the methods of Great Britain—the dole, social insurance, etc.— without any real investigation as to their suitability to the Canadian people.

However, the British railroads -whatever one may think of their ruthless, aggressive methods—have won their place in road transport by action. Ours, having slept under the menace of truck competition for fifteen years, are inclined to appeal for protection on the grounds of their importance in the economic structure, the “unfairness” of the truck, and as compensation for past favors. Not long ago one road issued a tirade against the motor truck in the form of a public advertisement, parts of which were: “Trucks do not and are not under obligations to maintain service . . . are not subject to inspection . . . operate only wffien

weather jiermits . . . are notoriously undertaxed.”

This “notoriously undertaxed” is in line with the railway claims that all highway costs shall be home by the users of the roads, apportioned among the different classes of users, the basis being the gasoline tax. the registration fees and the gross ton mile tax. The motor vehicle interests, on the other hand, point out. that, exclusive of relief construction on colonization roads of a type not used by motor traffic, revenue from motor vehicle taxes has more than balanced ordinary expenditure on highways; and that some provinces have been using revenue from motor vehicle taxation to help meet other expenses of government. It must not be forgotten also that the railroads have been handsomely helped by the people. Provinces and Dominion, according to Government figures, have given them fortyseven million acres of land, a quarter of a billion dollars in cash, and have guaranteed three-quarters of a billion dollars of their bonds.

Aside from the question of taxation trucks have a decided advantage over railroads in that they have generally no standards of work, wages or hours, while the railways are rigidly bound to fixed conditions. A freight engineer’s time averages about eight hours at the throttle. He runs on a protected track. The truck driver is loose on the highway. The law says he may drive for ten hours, and do hard manual labor, loading and unloading, as well. As the law is not enforced with any degree of strictness, some drivers work far longer hours.

But the question is not one of taxes or rights. Public convenience must be served in the form that is most satisfactory to the people. A new form of transport threatens the established method, as the railroads menaced the stage coach and horse. In Canada now it is a wild scramble for the shipper’s dollar. Postoffice competes with express, and express with the less-thancarload-lot system of the railroads. Both these adjuncts of their own companies cut into regular freight. Water transportation is a keen rival. On top of it all is the motortruck business, their big companies fighting against each other for trade, their thousands of individual owners savagely battling everyone else regardless of rates.

Behind the scenes, all parties are preparing cases against each other; the trucks for survival, the railroads for protection, and the provinces for revenue.

In Ontario the truckers’ association have put forward six main points on which they demand Government co-operation: Financial responsibility of operators to be proved before granting of licenses; complete insurance-only cargo insurance is necessary now; enforcement of the Highway Act; standardization of conditions for employees; rate regulation, and limits of operation. To all except rates and limits of operation, the railroads are in agreement with the plan. They concede that up to fifty miles the trucks have them licked. This would have been good news to motor transport men five years ago, but now they want at least a 125-mile radius, possibly up to 400 miles.

A form of control in the granting of licenses in Ontario exists. An individual who wishes to operate a truck must appear before a political board and show “public necessity and convenience” for his proposals. Most applicants are opposed by the existing lines, and if the existing lines are big transport or railroad companies, high-priced counsel shows the board the absurdity of increasing the services in a particular district. The board itself, being composed of three lawyers is competent to hear pleas, but has no knowledge of highways, trucks or railroads. Indeed, with this Ontario Municipal Board —an outgrowth of the old Railway Board of 1906 —it is only a part-time job, for it has under its supervision a far wider range of public utilities. At the last meeting I attended, the chairman —after eight years experience at $25 a day —was quite aston-

ished to learn that Canada’s largest bus line went farther west than I^ondon.

This is the old way. The future envisages a commission made up of the interested parties — highway officials, railroaders, truckmen and a neutral chairman practical people who can get down to the problem and bring some form of order out of the existing chaos. There can be no discriminatory legislation against the users of the service of rail or road transport, nor against any one section. Under our democratic system the solution is in agreement, and when that is reached the Government will have to govern. Not as now with one inspector for the whole province.

Up to certain hauling distances, the problem is the railways. There is no lack of good men or brains to bring the big roads back to life, but every proposal is vitiated when it reaches the rarefied atmosphere of what they called it in the army, Great General Headquarters. The smallest problem then expands until it becomes one of the “ultimate destiny” of the two roads amalgamation national politics. There is little prospect of settlement of lesser difficulties until decision is reached in the larger question of the future.

While provincial and Dominion governments, railroads and people wait, the future is catching up to the present. It is not improbable that as today’s troubles are smoothed out. the whole picture will change. As rapidly as the motor truck advanced, new low-cost transportation is just around the next comer in the form of oil engines, high-tensile lightweight steels, fast, low gravity freight trains, composite cargo planes and airplanes with merchandise gliders trailed behind. Caught napping by the truck, asleep to modem passenger traffic—what Canadian train is streamlined or air conditioned?how will our fourbillion-dollar railroad system meet this future that is at hand if they cannot co]>e with the present?