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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, July 30, 1914, NOON EDITION, Image 5

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1914-07-30/ed-1/seq-5/

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ONE MAN'S OPINIONS
BY N. D. COCHRAN.
Chicago's 55 Per Cent. A. J. Smith
sends me a copy of Weber's Weekly,
in which Geo. W. Weber discusses
Chicago's 55 per cent of street rail
way profits. I am asked to give my
opinion on the opening and closing
paragraphs, which are as follows:
"I am willing that the city should
use part or all of its 55 per cent for
good traction service," said Mayor
Harrison, "if the companies devote
their 45 per cent to the- same purpose.
As to the proposition of the city giv
ing up its 55 without the companies
giving up their 45, I would not con
sider that in a million years."
The last paragraph is Weber's con
clusion of his argument as follows:
"The entire scheme of the city's
participation in the 'net profits' of the
companies is inherently bad. It has
no authorization in law or ethics.
And it has worked out badly because
it has made city administrations par
ticipate in economies in street rail
way service so that the city and com
panies might both profit by inade
quate service for fare-payers. And
good service a nickel's worth for a
nickel is the very first requirement
of the law."
My opinion is that both Mayor Har
rison arid Weber are essentially right.
I think the deal between the city and
the companies was a bad one for the
city, because it made the city profit
by poor service taking the money
out of the pockets of street car riders
to give it to the city and the company.
But I also think that street car
riders would not benefit if the city
gave up its 55 per cent; for the pub
lic will get the same service whether
the city gets 55 per cent or no per
cent at all. The result would be that
the owners of the street railways
would get the 55 per cent and the peo
ple would continue to get rotten service.
The street "railway game is to haul
as many people in as few care as pos
sible the maximum number .of pas-t
sengers in the minimum number of
cars. I don't believe street railways'
will be run for the public benefit until
the element of private profit is elimi-s
nated. t
Service will not be the main con--sideration
until street railways are
owned by the people and operated
for their convenience. Until that time
comes private profit will be the first
consideration.
The more financial burdens we put
on street railways by way of spe
cial taxes, division of profits, etc., the
more difficult it will be for the com
panies to give service. But we don't'
solve the problem by relieving them
of these burdens, because the busi?
ness rule is as I have stated no mat?
ter what the conditions, to pack thd
people in the fewest possible cars and
get the most nickels with the leasf,
possibly outlay. Y
And while I think the city made a
bad bargain when it went into partn
nership with the street car companies;
still I think giving them the 55 pen
cent would be an outright gift for
which the people would get no con-
sideration. t
So tb city might as well keep oij
taking the 55 per cent and building ur
a fund that will ultimately solve the;
transportation in the only way I bfrj
lieve it can be solved; and that is by,
municipal ownership and operation. J
No doubt many tricks will be re
sorted to to get the money out of the
hands of the people subways for
example, subways for the loop tha
will benefit the Field estate both ways
connecting up the big store with the.
street railway system and increasing
dividens on Field estate investment
in street railway securiteis. t
If the city owned the present sunt
face lines I believe service could be
bettered 50 per cent, and I think the
people would get their money's wortfj
quickest by taking over the surface
lines, then the "L's" and finally buiklj.
ing municipal sutyways forthe"wppI
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