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motion was denied. Soon after, a bill was filed in said court against the Commission, asking for an injunction to restrain them from enforcing said rate of 4 cents, and that matter is now pending before that court.
THE PALATKA BRIDGE ARBITRARY.
The three railroads which lead from Jacksonville, Tocoi, and Palatka to St. Augustine, and the one from East Palatka to Daytona, together with the railroad bridge across the St. Johns River, at Palatka, known as the East Coast Lines, have been, for over two years, operated under the same management. In 1889, when the management submitted the schedule of passenger and freight rates of each of these roads to the Commission, pursuant to the requirement of the amended law, for revision and approval, a separate schedule for said bridge, called the Palatka Bridge Arbitrary, was also submitted. With some hesitation on the part of the Commission is was allowed," for the present.”. Subsequently a railroad bridge was built across the river at Jacksonville, and also became a part of said East Coast Lines. No separate schedule of rates has been submitted or asked for, for that bridge, and no arbitrary has been charged by the management for the transportation of persons or property over it.
In the fall of 1890, complaint was made to the Commission that the rates for said Palatka Bridge were unjust and unreasonable, and that, in connection with a certain adjustment of rates to and from Jacksonville, to and from points on said East Coast Lines, for whose trade Palatka competed with Jacksonville, Palatka was unjustly discriminated against. Upon investigation, the complaint was sustained, and said arbitrary was directed by the Commission to be discontinued. (See Circular 38, Appendix p. 36.) To this action of the Commission, a protest by each of said railroad companies was filed by their general counsel, which is now pending. (For the reasons upon which the decision of the Commission was based, and the grounds of the protests of the railroad companies, see appendix
FIXING RATES ON STRAWBERRIES,
The shippers of strawberries for the past two seasons made more or less complaint of the rates charged for carrying strawberries. These were against both the State and Inter-state carriers.
The matter bas, more than once, been brought to the attention of the Commission, but for several reasons the Commission has not been able to see their way clear to take such action as was desired. On January 12 last, however, Circular 37 was issued (see p. 36 Appendix) naming rates on shipments of “strawberries in crates," and on shipments of “strawberries and other small fruits in refrigerators loaded in cars.”
The shipments of these fruits for the most part are in refrigerators. Refrigerators are of two kinds, to-wit: Refrigeraior cars on their own wheels, and small refrigerators loaded in cars. Shipments other than those carried in the refrigerators, are either by express, in the beginning of the season while the weather is yet cool, or occasionally for local consumption either by freight or express.
But the rates on the shipments in the refrigerators are not merely the railroad rates, but are charges made up of both railroad rates which go to the railroad, and refrigerator charges, which are received by those operating the refrigerators. Hence, a duced rate for carrying the loaded refrigerators might not be a reduction to the actual shippers or growers. Again, on the part of the road it was represented that rates for small refrigerators, if made too low, would operate to drive away entirely the refrigerator cars, the latter being the property of third parties, the same as small refrigerators, and not the property of the road. It seemed to the Commission a difficult matter to make rates on shipments of berries in the refrigerator cars, because from the very start of any such car the shipment would almost certainly and necessarily be an interstate shipment, said car under contract with the road, having come from a point outside of the State for the purpose of immediately returning loaded, destined to a point outside of the State, over which the Commission could exercise no authority. And as in the case of the small refrigerators, whatever rates might be made for the cars, might not affect the charges the refrigerator owners would make as against the actual consignor. After prolonged coneration of the whole matter, rates were made for strawberries in crates, and also for strawberries in refrigerators loaded in cars, but up to this time no rates have been promulgated, applicable to shipments of berries in refrigerator cars. ferred to above, there have been difficulties in the way of making, and maintaining such rates, and besides, the strawberry growers buth ! Lawtey and Gainesville, have petitioned the Interstate Curamerce Commission, requesting that rates on strawberries he investigated and reduced. It is believed that a practical adjustment of these rates can best be made by the Interstate Commerce Commission, and it is likely to be done by that board at an early day.
REVISING PASSENGER RATES.
Circulars 31 and 35 refer to passenger ra’es. The Commis. sion by Circular No. 31, prescribed a rate of 4 cents per mile for passenger fare on the Charlotte Harbor Division of the Florida Southern Railway, to which reference has already been made. With respect to Circular No. 35, no action has as yet been taken by the Commission. In response to the circular the principal officers of most of the longer roads appeared be. fore the Commission, and submitted arguments in the course of which they contended that any reduction below the present rates would be unjust to the roads, and that in the end sucb action would also be detrimental to the best interests of the people and the State. It was contended that the earnings of the roads, now allowed to charge rates in excess of 3 cents per mile, were not such as would justify any curtailment of their revenue, and that a reduction to 3 cents per mile, or indeed any reduction, would decrease their earnings. They did not furnish any data other than that contained in their reports on file with the Commission, but they affirmed that these reports, which are made under oath, are such an exhibit of the financial condition of the roads, as forbids any reduction in rates. In this connection it is proper to state that a comparison of the reports for the first six months of the present fiscal year, with those for the corresponding months of ihe previous year, on the whole, show a falling off rather than an increase, and further, that a comparison of the present earnings of the roads, with earnings in preceding years, while showing some improvement in receipts, does not exhibit such increases as were then hoped for.
No effort, however, will be made to give the arguments in detail, as submitted by the officers of the roads. They were made with earnestness, and were coupled with the affirmation that a reduction in rates implied almost, if not wholly, a corresponding reduction in revenue, and a reduction in revenue, a decrease in and depreciation of the service. A few others than the officers of the roads have appeared before the Commission, and have argued somewhat in support of the views as submitted by the officers of the roads, with the difference, however, that for the most part they urged the Commission to make no changes in passenger rates for the present or during this season. On the part of the public none, except as above referred to, have appeared before the Commission nor communicated with them, advocating a revision and lowering of passenger fares. This fact, however, the Commission do not construe as conclusive or even necessarily suggestive that the people are satisfied with the present rates, and desire that no change be made therein, or that the duty and responsibility of the Commission are modified thereby. On the other hand the Commissioners believe that the public have come to regard it as the particular duty and responsibility of the Commissioners to consider and pass upon these matters, without s'iggestion or application from them.
The law provides that the “ Commissioners shall from time to time, and as often as circumstances may require, change and revise " the rates. They appreciate their responsibility in the premises, and moreover they regard the question of the revision of passenger rates as of much importance. And yet it it is their desire to give to matters of this character, before taking action thereon, the careful consideration their impor. tance demands.
It is a fact, that the earnings of the Florida roads, excepting the Savannab, Florida and Western (whose mileage is much more in Georgia than in Florida) and the Pensacola division of the Louisville and Nashville, are much less than in adjacent states. It is also true that with the earnings much reduced below what they are at present, the roads would have to look elsewhere than to their earnings for the means necessary to enable them to provide such a service as the public demand. At the same time the Commission are not prepared to admit that a reduction in passenger rates would work a corresponding reduction in earnings. Upon a careful consideration of the whole matter, the Commission have not, up to this time, felt justified in issuing an order reducing the passenger rates. INVESTIGATIONS, EXAMINATIONS
AND VISITATIONS OUTSIDE OF
The statute authorizes the Commission to make investigations or examinations outside of their office anywhere in the State, or to appoint any of their pumber to do
report to a full Board.
Accordingly in March, April, May, June, September and November, 1890, visits, examinations and investigations were made by one or more of the Commissioners at the following places and for the following purposes : At Orlando to inves. tigate the matter of the application of the Pierce and Torrey Investment Company, which operates a railroad from Clay Springs to Apopka, asking the Commission to compel the savares, Orlando and Atlantic Railroad Company, to allow track connection near Apopka; and the conditional application of the T. O. & A. R. R. Co., for similar connection with the South Florida Railroad Company at Orlando. (For an account of that investigation and the result of it, see Appendix p.) At Arcadia, in DeSoto county, to which reference has heretofore been made—(see Circular No. 31 Appendix); At Titusville, to investigate the complaint of the East Coast Transportati Company against the Jacksonville, Tampa & Key West Railway Company for unjust discrimination, in receiving and delivering freights to and from competing lines of steamboats plying the Indian river, at the wharf at that place ; (See full report of the result in the Appendix.) At Starke, to examine into the complaint of the strawberry growers as to rates on strawberries, above referred to, and which culminated in the issuance of Circular No. 37 above mentioned; At Palatka, to investigate the complaint of T. A. Darby and the Palatka Board of Trade, against the East Coast Lines, in the matter of the Palatka Bridge Arbitrary, and which resulted in the promulgation by the Commission of Circular No. 38. (See also Appendix p. 36), and visits at various times to various railroad offices, on the different railroads in this State, pursuant to the duty imposed by section 15 of the Railroad Commission law, which is as follows: "That it shall be the duty of said Commissioners to investigate the books and papers of all railroad companies doing business in this State, to ascertain if the rules and regulations aforesaid have been complied with, and to make personal visitations of railroad offices, stations and other places of business, for the purpose of examination, and to make rules and regulations concerning such examinations, which rules and regulations shall be observed and obeyed as the other rules and regulations aforesaid. Said Commissioners shall also have full power and authority to examine all agents and employees of said railroad companies, and other persons, under oath or otherwise, in order to procure the necessary information to make just and reasonable rates of freight and passenger tariffs, and to ascertain if such rules and regulations are observed or violated, and to make necessary and proper rules and regulations concerning such examinations, and which rules and regulations herein provided for, shall be obeyed and enforced as other rules and regulations provided for in this act."
The principal object of these visits and examinations was to ascertain whether or not general rules 4 and 5, Circular 23, effective October 15, 1889, were observed by the railroad companies. These rules are as follows:
" 4. Each railroad company shall post in a conspicuous place, and keep the same continuously posted, in each of its stations, a copy of the schedule of freight and passenger rates revised and adopted for the use of such company by the Commission ; a copy of all the rules and regulations prescribed by the Commission for the government of the transportation of 'freight and passengers applicable to its line of road, and a copy of the official classification ; also, copies of all changes made, whether the same shall be made by such railroad company or by the Commissioners, also, a table of distances between each station."