« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
officers and employes, and may exchange passes or tickets with other railroad companies for their officers and employes
The State act provides (Sec. 2), subdivision (a), "that all charges made by any common carrier, subject to the provisions of this act, for any service rendered or to be rendered in the transportation of passengers and property aforesaid, or in connection therewith,
shall be equal and reasonable, and every unequal and unreasonable charge for such service is prohibited and declared to be unlawful;" and in subdivision (b) of the same section, declares against undue or unreasonable preferences, in both cases using the language of the inter-state law regarding the same subjects. By virtue of these enactments in the federal law, passes and free transportation have been effectually cut off, so far as inter-state commerce is concerned.
But our State law effectually nullifies these benificent provisions copied from the inter-state law, by a proviso in section one of the act, that "nothing in the provisions of this act shall be construed to prevent common carriers, subject to the provisions of this act, from issuing passes for the free transportation of passengers.”
Upon this subject of passes and the free transportation of persons, the Railroad and Warehouse Commissioners, in their report for the year 1885, remarked as follows:
“ It is also a question to be considered how far the issuing of passes, so largely in vogue, affects the revenues of the road. Every passenger who pays his fare has the right to protest against the issuing of any pass, as the paying passenger pays some proportion of the fare of the non-paying passenger. This opens a discussion of the pass system, which now maintains throughout the United States. The total abo. lition of the system would add to the revenues of the roads, equalizing burtherns, and would increase the revenues the State derives from the taxation of the gross earnings, and would tend to reduce passenger rates the country over. It is to be hoped that Congress will fully con. sider this question in the proposed national supervision of railways." (Report 1885, page 22).
Again in 1886 the commission reaffirms and reiterates its views as given in the report of 1885, with reference to the injustice of the pass system, (page 15, report 1886), and declared (page 23) that discrimina: tion in rates of freight or fare are not consistent with right, justice, and the public welfare.
The inter-state commission, in its first annual report, thus characterizes this sort of discrimination:
The evils of free transportation of persons were not less conspic
uous than those which have been mentioned. This, where it extended beyond the persons engaged in the railroad service, was commonly favoriteism in a most unjust and offensive form. Free transportation was given not only to secure business but to conciliate the favor of localities and of public bodies, and while it was often demanded by persons who had or claimed to have influence which was capa ble of being made use of to the prejudice of railroads, it was also accepted by public officers of all grades and of all varieties of service.
In these last cases the pass system was particularly obnoxious, and baneful, for if any return was to be made or was expected of public officers, it was of something which was not theirs to give, but which belonged to the public or to constituents.
A ticket entitling one to free passage by rail was often more effective in enlisting the assistance and support of the holder than its value in money would have been, and in a great many cases it would be received and availed of when the offer of money, made to accomplish the same end would have been spurned as a bribe.
Much suspicion of public men resulted, which was sometimes just, but also sometimes unjust and cruel; and some deterioration of the moral sense of the community, traceable to this cause, was unavoidable while the abuse continued.
The parties most frequently and most largely favored were those possessing large means and having large business interests.
The general fact came to be that in proportion to the distance they were carried those able to pay the most, paid the least, for the poor man had seldom any ground on which to demand free transportation, while the rich man was likely to have many grounds on which he could make it for the interest of the railroad company to favor him, and he was sometimes favored with free transportation, not only for himself and his family, but for business agents also, and even sometimes for his customers. The demand for free transportation was often in the nature of blackmail and yielded to unwillingly and through fear of damaging consequences from a refusal. But the evils were present as much when it was extorted as when it was freely given."-(Report of Inter-State Commission for 1887, pages 7-8.)
The Inter-State Commission in thus treating of this discrimination and evil speaks of it as a thing of the past, which has been overcome by the beneficent law under which the commission was created. And 80 as far as inter-state commerce is concerned free passes are no longer issued.
The act creating this commission contains the same enactments in the same language, and the result in this State would have been the same but for the proviso in section one of the act above quoted, that “Nothing in the provisions of this act shall be construed to prevent common carriers subject to the provisions of this act from issuing passes for the free transportation of passengers.'
The experience of the past shows that railway managers, officers, and boards of directors will not of themselves do away with this unjust discrimination. Experience under the inter-state law shows how easily the abuse is corrected when it is undertaken in the name and under the majesty of law.
It is the conviction of this commission that the issuing of free passes, as now practiced in this State, is an unjust discrimination as against every passenger that pays, and thus opposed to the spirit of the act passed for the regulation of common carriers; that it is a fruitful source of corruption; that it is injurious alike to public and private interests, and to the interest of the companies themselves, and that it is one of the chief obstacles in the way of proper and necessary reform in railway management and the control thereof under the authority of the state.
The proviso to section one of the act, with the exception above noted of "passes for the free transportation of passengers," and transportation to stock shippers with cars," applies to property only, not to persons.
The Inter-State Commerce Law (Sec. 22) contains the following clause: “Nothing in this act shall be construed to prohibit any common carrier from giving reduced rates to mipisters of religion.”
The act passed by the legislature of the State of Minnesota contains no such provision. Almost the first question raised before the Commission under the new law related to this subject.
The decision of this commission upon this subject will be found in another part of this report, properly indexed, in a letter addressed to E. W. Winter, Esq., general manager of the C., St. P., M. &0. Rail
Section 7 of the act of the Legislature of this State has the following clause, which is not contained in the Inter-State law, nor has it. so far as this commission has any knowledge, been enacted into law by any of the other States of the Union:
Sec. 7. (a) That it shall be unlawful for any common carrier, subject to the provisions of this act, to charge or receive any greater compensation, per ton, per mile, for the contemporaneous transportation of the same class of freight for a longer than for a shorter distance
over the same line, in the same general direction, or from the same original point of departure, or to the same point of arrival; but this shall not be construed as authorizing any common carrier, subject to the provisions of this act, to charge as high a rate per ton, per mile, for a longer as for a shorter distance.
THE LONG AND SHORT HAUL CLAUBE OF THE ACT.
Section 6 of the act passed by the State Legislature is as follows:
Sec. 6. That it shall be unlawful for any common carrier, subject to the provisions of this act, to charge or receive any greater compen. sation for the transportation of passengers or of like kind or class and quantity of property, for a shorter than for a longer distance over the same line, the shorter being included within the longer distance; but this shall not be construed as authorizing any common carrier, subject to the provisions of this act, to charge or receive as great compensation for a shorter as for a longer distance.
Provided, however, That upon application to the commission appointed under the provisions of this act, such common carrier may, in special cases, after investigation by the commissioners, be authorized to charge less, for longer than for shorter distances, for the transpor. tation of passengers or property, and the commission may from time to time prescribe the extent to which such designated common carrier may be relieved from the operation of this section of this act.
Section 4 of the Inter-State Commerce Law relates to the same subject. The differences between the two sections are in each designated by italics; the words so marked in the one act not being found in the other.
Section 4 of the Inter-State Commerce Law reads as follows:
Sec. 4. That it shall be unlawful for any common carrier subject to the provisions of this act to charge or receive any greater compen. sation in the aggregate for the transportation of passengers or of ike kind of property, under substantially similar circumstances and condi. tions, for a shorter than for a longer distance over the same line, in the same direction, the shorter being included within the longer dis. tance; but this shall not be construed as authorizing any common carrier within the terms of this act to charge and receive as great com. pensation for a shorter as for a longer distance; provided, however, that upon application to the commission appointed under the provisions of this act, such common carrier may, in special cases, after investigation by the commission, be authorized to charge less for longer than for shorter distances for transportation of passengers or property; and the commission may from time to time prescribe the extent to which said designated cominon carrier may be relieved frm the operation of this section of this act.
Under section six of the State act the commission has had one and but one application for the suspension of the long and short haul provision of the law.
This application was made by the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway Company.
The papers filed by the company, and the opinions thereon by the commission, are given in full in this report. The decision of the commission was against the application, Commissioner Austin dis. senting.
It is now believed that the principle embodied in the provisions of Sec. 6 of the State act is acquiesced in by common carriers in Minnesota, and that the rule is general and without exception.
The inter-state law enacts that no advance shall be made in the rates, fares and charges which have been established and published by any common carrier, in compliance with the requirements of Sec. 6, except after ten days public notice. Rates, fares and charges may be reduced in inter-state commerce without notice, but may not be thus advanced.
Our State law, Sec. 8, subdivision (b), provides that there shall be no change of classification," "and no change shall be made in the rates, fares and charges which have been established and published as aforesaid by any common carrier, in compliance with the requirements of this section, except after ten days public notice.
The State act forbids either an advance or a reduction.
The commission is of opinion that it is not well to prohibit by law common carriers from reducing rates at will, and that the inhibition against advancing rates except upon proper notice is all that is necessary to guard the interests of the public.
The common carriers of the State, so far as is known to the commission, have shown themselves ready to comply with the law which relates to the filing and publication of tariffs.
In other material points, such as those relating to reasonable and just charges, forbidding special rates, rebates, drawbacks and unjust discriminations, undue or unreasonable preferences, concerning interchange of traffic, making the pooling of freights unlawful, prohibiting combinations to prevent continuous carriage, in relation to the powers and duties of the commission and methods of procedure before it, and its manner of conducting business, there is substantial accord both in the letter and the spirit of the State act and the act of Congress, and the Commission finds that in its general results the operation of the law has been favorable both to the roads and the public. Many of the evils in the conduct of railroad affairs are disappearing from view, and it is believed that the law will be amply vindicated by its ultimate results,
A full exhibit of the complaints made to the commission and of the