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Commercial Motor Transport

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MOTOR TRANSPORT, COMMERCIAL. The follow ing article deals with the economics of commercial motor trans port, with special ref erence to Great Britain. For a complete discussion of this subject, including engineering design and opera tion in the United States, see MOTOR VEHICLES, COMMERCIAL.

Commercial motor vehicles may be divided broadly into two groups, namely, vehicles for the transportation of goods and passenger vehicles. Dealing first with passenger vehicles, irrespec tive of the carrying capacity of the vehicles, all the vehicles licensed for the purpose of carrying passengers are known as "hackney carriages." The first motor vehicles of this description to ply for hire in England were motor buses and cabs. Neither class developed very rapidly. The chassis of the early days was not sufficiently strong to stand up to the exacting conditions of regular passenger services and the expenses of running and maintenance were greater than the revenue which was derived by way of fares. Up till about the year 1910 the balance sheets of the various companies showed anything but promising results. Only those with large financial resources were able to survive the transition stages. Until the beginning of the century there had been no experience in this form of traffic to guide either manage ment or design. Until 1914, though the number of hackney car riages was increasing steadily, they were both crude and un comfortable.

The public service passenger vehicle became an essential in the life of Great Britain about the year 192o. Until then, War Department vehicles were being sold at exceedingly low prices and thousands were converted into passenger vehicles-a pur pose for which they were entirely unsuited. Thus it was that though the motor hackney was rapidly replacing the horse drawn hackney, the radius it served round its centre of operation was not greatly in excess of the practical horse radius.

About this time (1920) there were introduced from the United States, light, fast pneumatic-tyred passenger vehicles designed to carry from 14 to 20 passengers with a degree of comfort superior to anything previously experienced and with this ex ample before them British manufacturers almost immediately changed their policy, beginning to manufacture special passenger chassis instead of chassis to serve for the transport of either passengers or goods. With the introduction of such chassis,

longer services became practical propositions, until, nowadays, there are very few villages, having reasonable road access, not served with regular passenger services, varying, of course, in degrees of quality and frequency. Thus the number of hackneys alone increased from 33,199 in 1911 to 86,90o in On Jan. 1, 1927, the tax on passenger vehicles was considerably increased, which had the effect of checking the growth, but, on the other hand, the improvement of both vehicles and roads had the effect of increasing the earning power of such vehicles, a result furthered by the steady increase in the number of villages and districts remote from railway services which acquired a residential character, the residents being able to rely upon the organized public passenger services to take them either to and from the nearest railway station or direct to their places of busi ness. Long distance motor services have also become established, as for instance between London and Bristol and Exeter ; London and Liverpool; London and Newcastle-on-Tyne ; or in other cases connecting the more important provincial centres. The vehicles used on these long distance services carry from 20 to 25 pas sengers in the utmost comfort upon pneumatic tyres and can average speeds of from 20 to 3o miles per hour.

Motor Transport of Goods.—The development of motor traffic for the transportation of goods has been somewhat different from that of passenger transportation, in that the heavier loads were the earlier to show an economic advantage. In this respect the steam wagon led the van. On selected routes and, given the requisite amount of freight, one steam wagon of five tons carrying capacity, could, and did, replace as many as twenty horses. On the other hand, for local delivery work, involving a consider able number of calls, the motor, for many years, showed no ad vantage in the matter of cost, as compared with horse trans portation.

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