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New Orleans against the river that flows there? The French authorities license their railways to carry the products of the Mediterranean across France on their way to England at a less rate in France than the same product would pay if landed and consumed in France. This is a parallel to our foregoing transcontinental illustration. Germany and Belgium have authorized governmental tariffs which make exceptional provision for international transportation, against combined ocean and river routes. Similar exceptions are repeatedly granted by the English board of trade, as from Glasgow to Edinburgh and between London and Liverpool by rail routes competitive with water carriage. The three great rail lines from Liverpool to London charge less upon American provisions sent from New York to London via Liverpool, than the local rates from Liverpool to London on the same products, in just recognition of their rivalry with ocean carriage all the way from New York to London.
Such inequalities exist yet more numerously in this country by lake, ocean and canal. The lake rate on corn from Chicago to Buffalo is less than from Chicago to Cleveland, a lesser distance, because quantity, regularity of trip, facilities for loading and unloading at elevators, etc., differ. Erie Canal rates on corn from Buffalo to New York for enormous regular quantities are less than for occasional boat loads from Buffalo to Yonkers or West Point, where no elevator facilities exist. These constant commercial considerations can not be legislatively ignored. It seems the thoughtful purpose of the Senate to intrust the due and farther consideration of them to a railway commission. The House so far fails to adequately recognize the accepted rules of commercial conduct in the railway administrations which must deal with all
I have not touched upon the legal pains and penalties of the different bills in which the more fair and mature consideration of the Senate law is equally shown.
The brief limits of this article preclude adequate representation of this vastly important question. I should have been glad to show how water routes regulate and limit rail rates; how our rail rates compare with those of Europe; what has been done by voluntary but permanent reductions of freight rates in recent years; how lands distant from markets have been plowed and tilled as much by the locomotive as by the immigrant; how our foreign commerce has been developed by through rates; the effect of the legal immunities of roads which like the New York Central, or like the Pennsylvania main line from Pittsburgh and Erie to Philadelphia, on lake and river traffics are all in state limits while their rivals are interstate; what the effects of this indirect independence are, and how railways and publics thrive mutually only by mutual relations. All these questions enter deeply into the problem, but I have contented myself with a simple comparison of portions of the bills which touch the practical business questions. Legislation
upon them must be new and crude and should therefore be flexible. England enacted and repealed over a thousand bills before it reached its present board of trade act. We can not even adopt that law because the conditions differ so much. It is presumption to believe that with the multitudes of greater carrying complications in this country, an act such as the House bill can solve problems which have defeated the wisest thought of foreign governments for fifty years. Every railway company should aid its
solution frankly, thoughtfully, promptly, concede just public demands, and recognize public rights and interests in the question and the rights of both stronger and weaker rivals. All this should pass without gain. saying.
The House bill makes no provision for a commission to consider, sift and report upon the gigantic difficulties. The senate attempts and intends to provide thoughtful foreknowledge. The House bill at once seizes and punishes an offender against its impracticable conditions and conclusions. The Senate bill warns and admonishes before arresting and punishing. Both acts must be administered over a vast railway mileage and national area, by thousands of general and local railway officials who have various standards of intelligence, purpose and integrity. A large majority of them mean right; the minority fail to do so, either through intent or lack of information. The vice-like and impracticable regulations of the House bill will fail their purpose, confuse commerce, throw rail rates into disorder, advance water route rates, cause the withdrawal of many through rail rates, and be of almost impossible daily application in the manifold transactions involved.
The Senate bill appears to have recognized the vast issues raised, the immense tonnage carried, the millions of diverse transactions to fall annually under its scope, the necessity for conference, concession and equity, and the public ignorance or misconception of the mutualities required. It provides a special tribunal through which the railways may make continuous representation to both branches of congress. Such a commission will educate the public as to their rights, and act as the medium for a better understanding. It gives that medium a warning, admonishing and then correcting and enforcing power. It looks to farther action. Railroads and sincere publicists should favor this commission, because it will or should separate the chaff of wrong and misrepresentation from the facts which are justly entitled to plead for both sides. Congress should have such a tribunal, experienced and wise enough to report impartially to it upon the interests, duties and rights of carrying corporations as well as people, and to state and formulate any proper additional measures just to all
. This is better than undertaking to comprehend it all now through the smoked glass of prejudice or insufficient knowledge.
In this way harm to vested corporate or personal rights can be best avoided, legislation made intelligent, and repeals and re-enactments of crude laws avoided. The cautionary power of the government will, nine times in ten, stop the great majority of the irregularities justly complained of. Railways are seldom found now to defend indefensiðle old methods. The mere presence of the policeman on the corner prevents affrays. The enactment should be wise and broad, yet concise and practical. The government authorities should be accessible, their authority prompt, their machinery simple, their methods direct, yet their discretion justly limited.
THE INTER-STATE COMMERCE LAW.
The Trunk Line Passenger Meeting. At a meeting of the joint committee of general passenger agents of the trunk lines and their connections held in New York City, March 4, 1887: the following report was adopted.
NEW YORK, March 4, 1887. REPORT OF THE SPECIAL PASSENGER COMMITTEE. It appears to be impracticable within the time allotted to present in detail all the changes in passenger tariffs, rules, and regulations which may become necessary under the operation of the act to regulate commerce, and the special committee will, therefore, attempt to state such general principles as they deem applicable in order to bring the administration of passenger business within a proper construction of the letter and intent of the law, and to make such further recommendations for changes in existing methods as they deem expedient and desirable, from the standpoint of railroad policy and public interest.
Your committee are impressed that the intention of the law is to prevent the imposition of unreasonable and unjust fares, to eliminate improper preferences, and to secure the stability and publicity of passenger tariffs." In order to accomplish these wise and just results without placing unnecessary restrictions upon privileges which have heretofore been enjoyed by the public, it seems necessary and proper to construe the law liberally with reference to its general scope and intention.
JUST AND REASONABLE FARES. Your committee believe that, generally, the tariffs now in force for regular and differential fares of the first class in the territor of the joint committee are just and reasonable. These consist of the fares for firstclass unlimited tickets, first-class limited tickets for limited express trains, and first-class limited tickets for continuous passage on ordinary trains. These classes cover by far the greater portion of the
Second-class fares are in use in both directions, but generally between cities from which considerable numbers of passengers are transported who are willing to accept poorer accommodations at less cost. Under the clause prohibiting discriminations, it will be necessary to establish second-class fares to some additional points, in order that fares for
a shorter distance, contained within the same line, shall not be greater than fares charged for a longer distance.
The fares for foreign immigrants arriving at the Atlantic seaboard in the steerage of ocean vessels are the lowest through fares which are in use, and are believed to be not unjust nor unreasonable toward the immigrant. The Legislature of the State of New York has fixed the maximum for such immigrant passengers transported within its boundaries, and this has the practical effect to influence and control immigrant fares from other points on that seaboard. We believe the tariff of immigrant fares which will take effect April 1 will conform in all respects to the law.
Having reference to the various clauses against discrimination between passengers under like conditions, we have arrived at the conclusion that immigrant fares ought not to be used for cash business at the various seaboard cities of the United States and that the concession to foreign immigrants must be confined to orders or tickets which they secure abroad in connection with their through ocean passage.
The law permits the giving of reduced fares to ministers of religion, but it does not permit, and clearly forbids, the giving of reduced fares to other persons than ministers of religion and officers and employees of railway companies, or free transportation to any person or class of persons whatsoever except to officers and employees of railway companies. In defining the term “ministers of religion we accept the definition given by Webster's Dictionary, as follows: One who serves at the altar; one who performs sacerdotal duties; the pastor of a church only authorized or licensed to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments.”
MILEAGE TICKETS. We recommend that the sale of mileage tickets be absolutely discontinued as soon as the consent of all the roads not present and whose assent is required can be obtained to this 'recommendation, and that the limit
of those sold shall not go beyond July 31, 1887.
Forty-one companies concurred in the above. The only line represented at the meeting which did not vote in the affirmative took the matter under advisement, and will reply as quickly as possible.
The officers of the joint committee were requested to proceed at once to secure the vote of lines not represented at the meeting and whose assent is necessary.
EXCURSION TICKETS. First. We define the term “Excursion Tickets,” as used in section 22, to mean a round-trip ticket, sold at a reduced rate to a person who, under certain conditions, desires to make a journey within a given time . to a given point and return.
Second. We believe that it is the intention of the law to leave all the questions of restriction, limitation, place and fares for the sale of excursion tickets in the discretion of the railway companies interested, respectively, within reasonable limits.
Adopted, six representatives dissenting.
The Minority Report on the above clause is as follows:
“We believe that, if excursion rates are made, they should, under the law, be so made as not to unjustly discriminate between persons, corporations, localities, or any particular description of traffic; and that such rates should conform to the long and short haul feature of the law."
BAGGAGE. It has been the custom of railway companies to transport a certain amount of personal baggage in baggage cars, provided for the purpose on passenger trains, for which no separate charge has heretofore been made. This custom has varied somewhat in different sections of the country, and for different classes of people. To the end that a uniform rule may be adopted, we recommend that the rule for the free transportation of personal baggage be as follows, and that no greater excess be allowed to go free, or at different rates than are named in this general rule:
(a) There may be checked free on each full first or second-class ticket, 150 pounds of baggage; on each half first or second-class ticket, 75 pounds; on each full immigrant ticket, 100 pounds ; on each half immigrant ticket, 50 pounds.
(b) Baggage of first and second class passengers weighing in excess of the free allowance thus authorized shall be subject to a charge of not less that 12 per cent. of the lowest unlimited first-class fare; provided, however, that no less charge than twenty-five cents be made in any case.
(c) No single piece of baggage weighing more than 250 pounds shall be checked as baggage by any of these lines, except for ship immigrants.
We recommend that this concession apply only to the personal baggage of travelers, such as covered and included in decisions at common law, to wit: the personal effects of the traveler, which may include his wearing apparel, worn jewelry, a book for reading on his journey, a watch,or other personal effects which are not merchandise, and which may vary according to the condition in life of the passenger and the length of his journey ; and that no commercial luggage, musical instruments, organs, pianos, donkeys, horses or theatrical scenery be transported as free baggage.
We recommend that all Excess Baggage Order Books and permits be at once withdrawn from sale.
COMMISSIONS. We unanimously recommend that the payment of commissions for the sale of passenger tickets to any agent, firm, broker, scalper, or other person, be absolutely abolished by these lines; and that all reasonable and proper influences be brought to bear upon all connecting railroads beyond the territory of this Committee, to take concurrent action with. out delay. We further recommend that all our agents be prohibited from receiving commissions from other companies, and that we urge all other companies with whom we interchange business to refrain from the payment of such commissions to our agents or to other persons in the territory traversed by our lines. Adopted unanimously.
(92 companies have concurred.)