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The first case to be tried was that of the New York and Queens Gas Company. This was begun in September before Special Master James G. Graham and resulted in twenty-five or more hearings and the taking of some five thousand pages of testimony. The trial has been completed and briefs submitted. The Special Master has not yet made his report.
Immediately upon the close of that case, hearings were started in The Bronx Gas and Electric Company matter, in which daily sessions are now being held. Concurrently The Brooklyn Union Gas Company and the Kings County Lighting Company cases are being tried in the Eastern District.
The additional work devolving upon the Commission as a result of this litigation is being progressed by the regular staff of the Commission without the employment of any special counsel, consultants or engineers.
The use of electricity for light, heat and power is constantly growing. As stated in the annual report for the year 1922 the question of the use of sub-meters is one which the Commission must consider almost daily and over which it has no jurisdiction under the present law. The problem is becoming increasingly serious and without doubt the time has arrived when some measures should be taken which will relieve the public from the burden which it is undoubtedly sustaining through inaccurate sub-meters. The Commission again recommends the enactment of legislation upon this subject granting the necessary regulatory powers. Sub-meters when installed may or may not be accurate, but it is quite certain that their continued use does not improve their accuracy. In the metropolitan district this problem is bound to become much more serious than it is now. It is quite obvious that the corporations serving the large apartment houses prefer to have the energy which they furnish measured by one master meter. Their burdens are thus lightened and their responsibility is materially diminished. It is not charged that these corporations have wittingly fostered the idea of sub-metering, but rather that it would be unnatural for them to look on it in any other way than with approval. The service which they render is in no wise affected, and their income is of course in no manner decreased. On the other hand the net income is somewhat increased through decreased operating expenses.
Sub-metering need not be an evil. Proper supervision and control will fully meet the needs of the situation. If proprietors are to be permitted to continue to sell energy to their tenants, some means of systematic testing necessarily must be devised. A considerable force, equivalent at least to that now maintained by all the metropolitan corporations will be necessary in order that the meters may be tested periodically, and in addition, another force, smaller of course, will be necessary to dispose of the complaints which may be reasonably expected. Longer delay in providing
legal means with which to cope with this problem cannot help but materially complicate the ultimate solution.
An insistent demand for electrical service is being made by residents of the rural sections of the State. The problems presented by this demand threaten to become overwhelming. Many corporations appear to have lost sight of a very fundamental fact in connection with this problem. Rural development is bound to come and must eventually reach out into extreme sections. If there is one thing which will rejuvenate the farm and make it the desirable place in which to live which it cannot avoid being, it is the proper and adequate distribution of electrical energy. However, such a distribution entails a heavy loss through the component parts of the system, which in many cases are required to serve individuals on the farm, while in the more settled sections such component parts may serve a much larger number. The dividing line is here. presented between serving the farmer at a rate which will not result in positive loss and a rate which will provide a reasonable profit. It is essential, therefore, that some means be devised whereby the rates charged in the rural sections will not be such that those applicable in the urban sections must bear the loss resulting from rural service. Some progress has been made along the line of establishing proper rates. Most of the corporations now recognize the fact that the question must of necessity be met but relatively few of them have succeeded in establishing a sound economic basis on which to solve it. Studies are being made which it is hoped in the end will result in an approximately uniform method of meeting the situation.
With the development in electrical service has come the necessity for the promulgation of uniform rules and regulations especially in relation to service and those other factors properly a part of a rate schedule. Under the Commission's amended rules and regulations governing the preparation of rate schedules an intensive study has been pursued. While no attempt has been made to dictate the contents of rate schedules, it has been the effort of those entrusted with this work to mould the schedules which have been submitted in such a way as to make them generally as harmonious as possible. The effects of this work have been clearly demonstrated to have been highly beneficial, not only to the corporations, but especially to the public which is daily becoming more and more familiar with the intricacies of a rate schedule, thereby making it more essential that such shall be uniform in character and specific in terms.
Testing of electric meters is becoming of increasing importance. The corporations have manifested an unusual degree of co-operation in carrying out the rules of the Commission with respect to meter testing, and there has been a corresponding benefit to the public. It is gratifying to report that the results of tests made by the Commission's force, especially after complaints, has uniformly shown a high degree of accuracy. The introduction of numerous
domestic electric devices of a relatively high capacity, such as heating units, irons, and other appliances, has resulted in many complaints. Such devices are often sold without due explanation to the customer of the quantity of energy consumed and in many cases liberal use has produced unusually large accounts for service. It has been difficult to convince consumers of this condition and the Commission's electric department has placed particular emphasis on the necessity for corporations giving detail information upon the subject of the use of household utensils. The use of the electric range has been increasing at a rapid rate during the past year and with it has come a demand for a special cooking or heating rate. That this is a field which may now be cultivated, especially in localities where gas is unavailable, has become quite obvious in a number of communities. It has resulted in the development of a rate which the corporation has found to be expedient, not new in this country, the purpose of which is to encourage the use of electric energy. The communities in which it has been tried have universally demonstrated that it is successful. In this State, it has come to be known as the active room rate. Fundamentally it consists in a rate structure which will insure an adequate return to the corporation for the demand which it may be called, upon to supply while permitting the customer to use the energy at an economic rate provided he uses it in quantities commensurate with the demand he creates. Time will undoubtedly develop certain modifications which in the end will give greater satisfaction.
STEAM RAILROAD PROPERTIES AND SERVICE
The past year has not presented many unusual problems in connection with steam railroads. The strikes which prevailed during the preceding year had been for the most part settled or their effects dissipated through the breaking in of new forces. As a result, there has been a distinct improvement in the condition of the equipment in service. Inspections have been made of all properties including equipment, track and structures. The standard of maintenance is in general much higher at this time than it has been for several years. Some of the larger properties have not yet overcome considerable of the deferred maintenance which accumulated during the war period. Some of the smaller lines are suffering severely from curtailment of traffic resulting from the operation of bus lines on parallel highways and losses in revenue caused by the use of trucks and personal automobiles. These conditions appear to be permanent and it is doubtful if the short line railroads will recover the position they formerly held. One railroad of this type, the Central New York Southern Railroad has begun proceedings to secure permission to abandon its line. Other proceedings will doubtless follow as profitable operation becomes less and less possible through the reduction of income and increased operating costs.
The railroads entering the metropolitan district are confronted with a serious situation. The saturation point of commuter traffic has apparently been reached. As a result complaints to the Commission have been numerous. Overcrowding seems to be the most serious of these complaints. To offset this overcrowding with additional trains requires not only additional cars and locomotives but terminal improvements as well. Hearings have been held on complaints against the service of The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, and The Long Island Railroad Company. In the case of the former the Commission has made an order requiring additional facilities which it is believed will result in more satisfactory service. Even this will mean only partial relief as the section of the New York Central railroad south of Woodlawn Junction and the present capacity of the Grand Central Terminal are now overtaxed. Hearings are in progress upon the service on the Long Island railroad. These hearings require co-operation with the Transit Commission which has jurisdiction over that section of the railroad within Greater New York, as there many of the difficulties lie. This railroad is also handicapped by the limited amount of new power it has been able to secure for use on the steam section. Many of the locomotives while in fair condition are insufficient in capacity to handle the trains now necessary to accommodate the public.
INTERNAL TRANSVERSE FISSURES
The rail problem has been carefully studied during the past year. The failures due to the development of internal transverse fissures are still important, this type being still an unknown quantity in so far as the determination of the cause is concerned. The records of the Commission from 1913 to date have been extremely valuable in connection with studies made by numerous experts. A comprehensive study prepared by the Interstate Commerce Commission is in large part founded on this Commission's records and studies. A solution of this problem seems to be difficult. It is encouraging to note that the number of failures reported during the past year is less than that for the preceding year. While no positive conclusion can be drawn from this fact, it may indicate that a further decrease may be expected in the future. During the year 367 such failures occurred, which is 29 less than the number reported for last year. Of these 367, thirteen caused derailments of trains, eleven being freight trains and two passenger trains. 254 of these failures occurred on railroads equipped with automatic signals, and of this number 200 failures resulted in such automatic signals being displayed in the stop position thereby indicating the presence of the rail failure. This is no doubt largely responsible for the relatively small number of accidents. The following tables have been prepared to indicate the rail situation in general.
TOTAL ALL CLASSES OF RAIL FAILURES FOR YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 1923 TOTAL TRANSVERSE FISSURES YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 1, 1923
The grade crossing problem grows more serious constantly. The toll of lives taken each year on account of this condition is appalling. It is much greater than the number of accidents resulting from train operations, such as collisions, derailments, etc. For the last reporting period there were 719 accidents, which resulted in the death of 91 persons and the injury of 474. In no year in the history of the Commission has there been such a loss of life as this due either to collisions, derailments or grade crossing accidents.
The work of eliminating grade crossings has progressed as rapidly as the available funds and the necessary studies will permit, but the results are feeble when compared with the magnitude of the task of thorough elimination. Gates, flagmen and automatic devices of various kinds have been installed voluntarily and on order or