« ZurückWeiter »
of railroad properties, street and steam, are those who have come from the bottom round of the ladder and climbed by diligence to the top. I think, in fact, that the men know more about the profits of our business, the expenses and the income, than we think for, and if all the profits of a Company are not taken by the management, but by a small investment made in this way, or in some other proper manner, an interest is shown in the employees, I believe that very decided returns will come from such an investment; and I, for one, would be very glad if our President would state to the Convention just what his experience has been in this particular.
The President: I really feel, gentlemen, as if I was occupying far too much time of this Convention, and had hoped to get through without saying another word ; but as our Secretary has asked me to state briefly what we are doing in this particular direction, I will say that we aim to have a reading room connected with each one of our depots. It costs us a little something, and it costs the men a little. We aim to do it in such a way as not to make paupers of our men, or have them feel there is anything tending in that direction. We feel that if we spend a hundred dollars a month in each one of these reading rooms, it is money well expended. What it requires more than that, the men will contribute themselves. We furnish them in that way the best reading matter that can be obtained. We give them a good light, airy room, where they can spend the time which they otherwise might spend in a saloon ; the time that they are necessarily obliged to wait for iheir cars to come out. There is a good supply of stationery, so that they can write their letters. It has an elevating tendency ; it lifts them up and makes better men of them. It takes them away from all bad surroundings and fills them with self-respect; and I believe it is the most profitable and satisfactory investment that our Company makes in any direction. This is, in a word, what we are doing.
The Secretary: Mr. President, before we proceed further, it may be proper for the Association to be informed of the receipt of iwo letters. One is from Mr. George Truesdell, President of the Eckington and Soldiers' Home Railroad Company.
LETTER OF INVITATION FROM MR. GEORGE TRUESDELL TO INSPECT THE OVERHEAD SYSTEM OF
The Secretary read the letter, as follows:
OFFICE OF THE
WASHINGTON, D. C., October 17, 1888.
CHARLES B. HOLMES, President, Washington, D. C., Dear Sir:— The officers of the Eckington and Soldiers' Home Railway Company beg leave to announce to your Association that their road is completed, and, it is expected, will be in operation on and after this P. M. The road is equipped with the Thomson-Hlouston electric system.
Your Association is cordially invited to visit and inspect the same at your convenience, but we would be glad to have you appoint a time when you can go over the road in a body, in order that we may be present and attend you.
Very respectfully yours,
The Secretary: The other letter is from Mr. James Gunn, Secretary of the Toronto Street Railway Company, Canada.
LETTER OF INQUIRY FROM MR. JAMES GUNN RELATIVE
TO WOOD PAVEMENT.
The Secretary read the letter, as follows:
OFFICE OF THE
TORONTO, October 15, 1888.
ASSOCIATION, Dear Sir:--Our Company is engaged in serious litigation with the city upon the subject of block pavements.
Against our remonstrances the city authorities in 1881 and 1883 and subsequent years laid this kind of pavement upon some of the streets where our tracks run. As might have been expected, these pavements were a complete failure, and went to pieces in two or three years. It has become now necessary for us to make certain proofs with regard to the permanency of cedar block pavements, and we should feel very glad to be put in communication with any member of the Association from cities where similar questions have arisen, with a view of obtaining evidence.
We must apologize for troubling you at a time when you have so many other duties on hand.
JAMES GUNN, Secretary.
DISCUSSION RELATIVE TO WOOD PAVEMENT.
The Secretary: It seems to me that as a sister Company, a member of this Association, is in distress at this time, if gentlemen having heard this letter read, will present their views as to the durability or lack of durability of wooden pavements; or if such gentlemen will give me their names, I will put the Company that asks for the information in communication with them.
Mr. Lawless, of Kansas City: We use considerable block pavement on our lines, unfortunately; and I would be glad to give the gentleman any information I possibly can.
Mr. Bailey, of Toledo : Mr. Secretary, you might put him in communication with the Toledo Consolidated Street Railroad Company.
Mr. Frayser, of Memphis: I have used a good deal of that pavement; and if the Secretary will furnish me the name and address of the gentleman who asks for the information, I shall be glad to cominunicate with him.
Mr. Bull, of Quincy: I would say that in some Western cities where wooden blocks have been used upon streets and streetrailways, brick is now being used, and so far very successfully.
Mr. Hasbrouck, of New York: Mr. President, may I request through you whether Mr. George Truesdell is in the room. I am pleased to know that his Company is a member of this Association; and if he is in the room, I should be very glad if he will come forward; I want to embrace him as an old friend.
The President: If Mr. George Truesdell is in the room, will he please come forward. Mr. Truesdell was not present.
Mr. Littell, of Louisville : Mr. President, I came in very late, just as Mr. Wyman finished the reading of his paper; I would like to ask if that was the report of the Committee.
The President: It was.
Mr. Littell : I make a motion that the paper be received, and a vote of thanks tendered to Mr. Wyman for his excellent paper.
The motion was carried.
The President: The Association has heard the letter read, inviting us to inspect the operation of the newly-equipped electric road here in the city of Washington. What is your pleasure regarding that invitation ?
Mr. Woodworth, of Rochester: I move that the invitation be accepted, and a convenient hour appointed when we can go, if the gentlemen wish. I would suggest that we do so after the adjournment to-morrow afternoon.
The motion was carried.
The President : If no one has anything further to offer at this stage of the meeting, we will consider the question of street-railway taxation.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON STREET-RAILWAY
Mr. Winfield Smith, of Milwaukee: Mr. President and gentle. men-There are some of us who find it a very formidable thing to read a paper, especially in the evening. Our younger brethren do not understand that; but there are a good many of us whose gray hairs indicate that they are keeping me in countenance in this thing. (Laughter.]
Mr. Smith read the report, as follows :
THE AMERICAN STREET-RALWAY ASSOCIATION :
Gentlemen :- I do not claim there is any justification for the course of one of your members, who, having agreed in the winter to read to you at this meeting a paper on the subject of street-railway taxation, before thinking any further on the matter, goes to Europe, and returns barely in time to appear at this Convention. Nor can I claim that while in Europe I have been considering the subject on which I have promised to address you. It is only in the intervals between pressing matters, since my return, that I have been able to see how little I might hope to instruct you upon this subject.
Railway taxation is a fact, and not a principle; a very complicated fact, insomuch that the laws of every State, and the laws of almost every city on this subject, differ from all others. I have been scrutinizing the statistics which have been in time past collected by this Association, and will give you the benefit of such information as is to be gleaned from them ; from which you will probably conclude that, notwithstanding the lack of uniformity in taxing street-railroad companies, there is not, in most cases, a disposition to be unfair or unjust. We railroad men always expect to pay our full share of taxes ; to bear our full share of every burden that comes upon others, and we are only too thankful if we do not pay more than our full share. It is for the most part a continual struggle on the part of street-railroad companies to simply secure even-handed justice, from those whose pleasure it seems to be, and constant desire, to devise new methods for sticking sharp pins into unhappy railroad companies.
In Wisconsin the constitution of the State requires that the rate of laxation shall be uniform, and consequently most of the taxes on street-railway property are assessed and collected as those on other property.
LICENSE ON CARS.
The exceptions are that there is added under the name of a license, an annual charge of $15 on each car run at any time by the Company, and there is also added the burden of requiring the street to be kept in repair for the central space of about fourteen feet and a half. I cannot help but think that the taxation of street-railroad property ought to be like that of all other property; that the real estate should be taxed as the real estate of individuals, and the personal property as the personal property of individuals. I do not know any reason why street railroads should be compelled to bear any burden beyond that which would be imposed upon other property. The vehicles run by street-railroad companies should not be taxed any more than the vehicles run by individuals. They are for the accommodation of people as are hacks and omnibuses, and if hacks and omnibuses ought for any sound reason to pay a license, it is quite possible that street-railroad companies should pay a license on cars, provided the same sound reason exists. It is supposed ordinarily that a license fee is charged against hacks and omnibuses, not as a matter of taxation, but for the sake of preserving a certain control over the owners of that class of property, for the purpose of better holding hack drivers and other drivers amenable to municipal regulations. This reason does not ordinarily exist in the case of street-railroad companies, for they are not usually irresponsible persons, but are easily subjected to any city or State legislation. Sometimes it may be truly said they are the victims of it. The drivers of a railroad car are in the employ of those whose capital invested is so great that they cannot hope to escape the commands of the law ; whose vehicles are by their own nature so fastened to the tracks that they never can be removed from the jurisdiction of the Courts. They can hardly be sold out or in any way placed beyond the control of the authorities, and there occurs to me no just reason for placing upon them an annual license. Probably it is really a tax, and ought to be so considered by the companies and by the courts.
In some States corporations are organized under special acts of the Legislature, and have peculiar privileges, and perhaps should, therefore, bear peculiar burdens. In Wisconsin and in other States the formation of corporations is free to all, and there seems to be, therefore, in the nature of a corporation, no reason for the imposition of burdens that are not common to unincorporated individuals or to other industries. In Wisconsin, for instance, there is no exemption of street-railroad property from taxation, and as it pays all, and in some respects more than, its proportion of taxes, it is not easy to see on what ground special burdens should be placed upon it.
The chief burden which is imposed on that property in Wisconsin, and also in many other parts of the United States, is the duty of keeping in repair the street for a greater or less width. In Pittsburgh, I understand that some companies are forced to keep the entire street in repair. Perhaps they have corresponding advantages in relief from other taxation. This particular charge is extremely burdensome, and I believe is not uncommon, and amounts not infrequently to far more than the sums exacted in ordinary taxation.
I know that the Company which I represent pays for this particular species