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local. Usually it is a percentage of the through rate based on actual or constructive mileage.
It is clear that such a rate can not be established except with the consent of each of the interested lines. It is rarely the case that such rates are based upon agreements in regular form; generally they are the result of correspondence, and in some cases merely of verbal understanding between traffic officials. Between the more important points percentages are usually established for the division of joint rates, and in such cases it is customary for the initial line to publish such rates without any special understanding with its connections regarding each separate tariff. While the great majority of the rates so published are acceptable to the interested parties, it is quite often the case that the initial carrier, through stress of competition, or for other reason, will publish through rates which are not satisfactory to its connections. As evidence of this the Commission frequently receives notice from carriers, usually by telegraph, advising of their nonconcurrence in certain tariffs to which they have been named as parties.
As above indicated, a joint rate can not be established without the sanction of each of the interested parties. Formerly such sanction was often merely an absence of objection on the part of the participating carriers, the traffic being received and billed by each line at its proportion of the rate as published. It is plain, however, that a joint rate, to be legally established under the act to regulate commerce, must not only receive the assent of the carriers over whose lines it is intended to apply, but that the Commission must, in some form, be advised of such assent in order that each road party thereto may be held responsible for the proper observance of the published rate; and the form and manner in which this acceptance shall be indicated to the Commission is a problem which, up to the present time, has not been satisfactorily solved.
In January, 1894, the Commission determined to formally exert the authority conferred upon it by the amendment of March, 1889, with the view of securing compliance with the statute in the publication of joint tariffs, and also of securing proper evidence of the authorization of such tariffs; but realizing that numerous obstacles would be encountered in an endeavor to accomplish the object sought, and not desiring to adopt any method that would be unnecessarily burdensome to the carriers by reason of expense or otherwise, it was deemed advisable to invite the carriers subject to the act to send representatives to Washington to meet the Commission in conference with the view of arriving at some practicable and satisfactory method of accomplishing the desired purpose. A circular letter, dated January 20, 1894, was therefore issued with this end in view and sent to all carriers. The date fixed for the conference was February 12, 1894. The conference lasted two days and was largely attended by railway officials. The subject was very fully discussed and a number of suggestions were offered as to the best method of accomplishing the object in view. No conclusion was reached at that time, however, and a second conference was decided upon, to be held March 14, 1894.
At this second conference a plan was adopted, the main features of which, briefly stated, were that all joint tariffs, as well as all supplements and amendments to joint tariffs thereafter filed, should be so printed and arranged as to show distinctly the names of the carriers parties thereto; and further, that all common carriers subject to the act which should thereafter be named as parties to any joint tariff, or to any supplement or amendment to any joint tariff published by another carrier, should forth with upon the publication thereof file with the Commission a statement or certificate showing their acceptance of and concurrence therein and making themselves parties thereto. An order was issued by the Commission in accordance with this plan and a form of certificate furnished the carriers for their guidance in filing concurrence in joint tariffs.
As will be seen, the plan adopted would appear to be a very simple and practicable one, and it was believed at the time that it would fully meet the requirements of the case. This order has been in force something over ten years and it must be said that it has not accomplished, except in part, the purpose intended. One of the first difficulties encountered in the endeavor to enforce the order was the evident lack of proper care in the preparation and arrangement of the tariffs so as to show the names of the carriers actually parties thereto. cases the names of all the participating carriers were not shown, while in others a long list of names were shown as parties, some of which it was plain could have no interest in the rates named. Roads thus improperly named as parties to tariffs do not file concurrence therein, and it is also true that carriers which are properly named as parties to tariffs, and which participate therein, frequently fail to file concurrence, the result being that probably a majority of the joint tariffs on file with the Commission are authorized by only a part of the carriers named therein as parties.
While, as above stated, many carriers fail to file concurrence in joint rates to which they are named as parties, a very large number of certificates of concurrence is filed, the annual average being nearly 250,000. If all carriers named as parties to joint tariffs, and to supplements and amendments to such tariffs, filed concurrence, the number of certificates filed yearly would probably be more than double that stated. While the number of these certificates filed is quite large, as shown above, it is rarely the case that they are received before the
tariffs to which they relate become effective, and frequently not until several weeks and even months thereafter. It is not understood that these certificates are retroactive in effect, but are effective only from the date filed; the tariffs, therefore, are usually in effect for a greater or less period before authority therefor is filed, and in some instances the tariff is canceled or superseded before concurrence is filed.
The Commission has, from time to time, received numerous complaints from the railways to the effect that the order requiring the filing of certificates of concurrence in joint tariffs was burdensome, it being often necessary to employ additional clerical force for this work. Soon after the order in question was issued several carriers having very small mileage, on account of the expense involved in filing a separate certificate for each tariff, supplement, or amendment, made application to the Commission for perniission to file a general or blanket certificate of concurrence in all joint tariffs to which they were named as parties, with the privilege of filing nonconcurrence in such issues as were not acceptable. Without giving full sanction at that time to this method of authorization, it being at variance with the method prescribed in the order, the Commission decided to accept, until further notice, such general concurrence. Similar applications were received, from time to time, from other carriers and permission granted, on the same terms, to file a general or blanket certificate of concurrence. The form of this certificate, as heretofore used, is as follows: This is to certify that the
Railroad Company assents to and concurs in all joint tariffs, also in all supplements and amendments to joint tariffs, or other issues which in any way affect joint rates, which may hereafter be issued by other common carriers and in which the said
Railroad Company is named as a party thereto, except in cases where the said
Railroad Company shall give the Commission notice to the contrary.
Up to the present time 84 carriers have filed general or blanket certificates of this kind, while 116 others have filed general concurrence in the tariffs issued by certain specified companies.
While this method of authorization is not free from defect, it appears to accomplish as much, and in some respects more, in the desired direction than has heretofore been accomplished by the filing of the separate or individual certificate. It can not be claimed that it is burdensome, and it has the important advantage of being in force from the time the tariff takes effect instead of several weeks or months thereafter, as in the case of the individual certificates.
What has been pointed out as an important defect in this method of authorization is, that if an initial carrier should issue what is termed a “midnight tariff," of which it desired to keep its connections in ignorance, and therefore fails to furnish them a copy thereof, that the roads named as parties thereto would have no opportunity of filing their noncurrence with the Commission.
Perhaps the most suitable answer to this objection is that a considerable number of carriers have followed this method for several years, and, so far as known, no case of the kind has yet arisen. Moreover, it seems inconceivable that any traffic official would attempt to apply an objectionable rate in this manner, especially in view of the fact that it would be detected as soon as traffic was tendered to his connections under such rate. But granting that it is possible such attempts may be made such a rate would not be a legally established joint rate for the reason that the connecting carriers over whose lines it is intended to apply have been given no opportunity to either agree to or reject it. It is assumed, of course, that railroad agents at connecting points with other roads do not accept any rates or divisions which may appear upon the waybills or delivery slips received from connecting lines, but use only such rates and divisions as have been authorized by the traffic departments of their own companies, and that they report any unauthorized rate which is thus brought to their notice. In this way a carrier becomes aware of any such unauthorized rate or rates as soon as traffic is tendered thereunder. If carriers immediately upon learning of such rates notify the Commission of their nonacceptance thereof it would seem to be all that could be expected in such
Where carriers, for any reason, do not desire to adopt this method of general concurrence they of course have the privilege of filing separate or individual concurrences in each tariff naming joint rates, and each supplement or amendment to such joint tariff, provided it is done in the manner prescribed by the order of the Commission.
ROUTINE WORK OF THE COMMISSION.
The duties of the operating division are miscellaneous and diversified in character. While the Commissioners exercise general control and direction over the affairs and work of all divisions, they are in more immediate touch with the work of this division. The principal duties of the operating division are to carry out through the Secretary who is the executive officer of the Commission the acts and official orders of the Commissioners.
A perceptible increase of work is noticed in the various branches of this division, due to some extent to the greater number of contested cases coming before the Commission. Brief reference will be made to the work of the more important branches of the operating division.
The docket work consists in the main in the filing, serving, and recording in the official docket of complaints received by the Commission, as well as the record and service of orders entered by the Commission instituting inquiry and investigation as to the manner and
method in which common carriers, subject to the act to regulate commerce, conduct and manage their business. Besides this there is the issuing of subpenas as well as the preparation and the publication of opinions in cases decided, the record and service of orders, and the preparation and service of all notices in the assignment of cases for hearing and argument.
This work has increased year by year. Before a complaint is filed it is carefully examined, and when found to be in proper form is served by registered mail on the parties to the proceeding, with notice to answer or satisfy the complaint within a specified time, usually twenty days. When the complaint has been answered the case is at issue and the parties may proceed to submit their testimony, either by deposition or orally, at such time and place as the engagements of the Commission will permit. The testimony in cases before the Commission is usually taken, however, at a place convenient to the parties, and when such testimony is concluded the case is ready for oral argument and the submission of briefs. Not until this stage is reached is the proceeding considered ready for submission. After each case is decided by the Commission its report and opinion is printed. A certified copy of this report and opinion, together with the order of the Commission entered thereon, is promptly served by registered mail on the parties to the proceeding.
The increase in complaints filed has caused a corresponding increase in work in nearly all branches of the operating division. During the past year more than 3,000 notices to answer complaints and notices of hearing were served by registered mail. In cases heard during the year over 35,000 folios of testimony, exclusive of oral argument, have been taken before the Commission at these hearings and reduced to typewriting by the employees of the operating division. At least three copies of the testimony are made for the use of the Commission and the parties to the proceeding.
Another class of complaints coming before the Commission for adjustment are informal in character, yet in many instances quite important. During the year more than 425 such complaints have been disposed of by the Commission through the operating division, principally by correspondence with the railroad companies, thereby, in many cases, avoiding the necessity of bringing formal complaints, which would entail much expense to the Government and still greater expense to the parties concerned. The greater number of these complaints have been settled to the satisfaction of all concerned.
Under the act of March 3, 1901, all railroad companies engaged in interstate commerce are required to make and file a monthly report with the Commission of all accidents to employees while on duty, and to passengers, as well as collisions and derailments. It is the duty of