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RATE DEPARTMENT TRANSPORTATION, STORAGE, WHARFAGE. To the Rate Department of the Commission is assigned the handling of all matters pertaining to the rates, rules and regulations of common carriers, including steam railroads, electric interurban lines, street car lines, express companies, interurban automotive transportation companies, and water carriers. It also handles all matters pertaining to warehouses, including food warehouses (cold storage), and wharves.
The department is under the supervision of the rate expert, four assistants and two stenographers. The rate expert and assistant rate expert are examiners to whom other duties than rate department matters are assigned. The Rate Department is in close touch with the management of all public utilities coming under it and keeps informed of all changes in rates or practices contemplated by these utilities and is constantly cooperating with their representatives in expediting rate adjustments.
TARIFFS. The fiscal year ending June 30, 1923, closes a very busy period for the Rate Department, as will be noted by the detail following. The law requires the various utilities to file schedules of their rates and charges with the Commission and the following list shows the number of utilities whose schedules are so filed:
Steam railroads ..
Total.-----The department maintains a public tariff file, where all of the tariffs referred to in the above paragraph are indexed and kept readily available for inspection by the public and, in addition thereto, has a working file of the same tariffs used by the department in its everyday duties. This file consists of approximately 4000 tariffs.
RATE CHANGES. Section 15 of the Public Utilities Act provides that l'nless the Commission otherwise orders, no change shall be made by any public utility in any rate, fare, toll, rental, etc.
, except after thirty days notice to the Commission and the public
In many instances the carriers desire to file rates effective on less than statutory notice. For various reasons traffic may suddenly develop which the normal rates will not move and the traffic must move within a certain period. On the other hand, shippers and carriers may agree that certain traffic will be moved provided a certain rate is made effective
68 32 15 113 10
1 34 333
form specially provided and the rates thereunder are made effective
Section 63 of the Public Utilities Act provides:
under any circumstances whatsoever, except upon a showing before the Commission and a finding by the Commission that such increase is justified.
In many instances typographical and clerical errors creep into tariffs and tariff supplements, and it is often necessary in order to remove such errors to create technical increases in rates. In other instances, where it is desired to put in a rate for a temporary period, such rate to expire at a stated time, a technical increase is also created. In these instances the carrier makes formal application on a form provided for the purpose and in the discretion of the Commission may be authorized to make such increases in rates without a formal public hearing. Within the last year the Commission has acted upon 547 such applications.
No common carrier subject to the provisions of this act shall charge or receive any greater compensation in the aggregate for the transportation of persons or of a like kind of property for a shorter than for a longer distance over the same line or route in the same direction, within this state, the shorter being included within the longer distance, or charge any greater compensation as a through rate than the aggregate of the intermediate rates;
Upon application to the Commission, such common carrier may, in special cases, after investigation, be authorized by the Commission to charge less for a longer than for a shorter distance,
Instances coming under this section are such as the rates between San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the through rate is made less than intermediate rates, in order to meet water competition, and in other instances the carrier having a longer and circuitous line between two points desiring to meet the rate of the shorter and more direct line. In such instances, where it is shown to be for the best interests of all concerned, the Commission grants the authority.
During the last year 167 of these applications were authorized.
By the Commission's General Order No. 51, automotive carriers may be authorized to change the rates on less than the statutory notice under Rule 10, and the Commission during the last year handled 182 such applications.
Rule 11 of the same general order provides for the informal authorization of automotive carriers for the increasing of rates and is analogous to section 63 of the Public Utilities Act. The department handled 51 such applications.
There were, all told, 1872 informal applications from utilities for the last fiscal year.
These applications require considerable bookkeeping. They require the signature of an officer of the carrier, the same to be attested by a notary public, and the Commission takes separate action on each of these cases.
FORMAL PROCEEDINGS. We now come to the formal proceedings before the Commission in which the Rate Department participates. The following formal applications and complaints have been filed:
plaints Railroads. Automotives. Carriers by water..
i Warehouses. Express companies.
RATE REDUCTIONS ORDERED. The Commission, on July 28, 1922, rendered its decision in the case of Supervisors of Imperial County vs. Southern Pacific Company, alleging that the freight rates between Imperial County points and Los Angeles were excessive and discriminatory. The Commission found that the rates were excessive and discriminatory and prescribed rates approximately 20 per cent lower than the prevailing rates. The reductions applied to both commodity and class rates and in amount represent a decrease of approximately $200,000 a year, based on the present volume of business.
On August 10, 1922, the Commission authorized San Francisco, Napa and Calistoga Railway to reduce individual monthly commutation fares between all points on that carrier's line to the basis of the fares in effect prior to July, 1918, resulting in the present fares being on a prewar level, and representing a reduction of approximately 16 2-3 per cent.
On August 15, the Richfield Oil Company, operating an oil refinery in Bakersfield and shipping points on the Sunset Railway, filed a complaint alleging that the freight rates on crude oil from the oil fields' shipping points to Bakersfield were excessive, and discriminatory. The Commission has rendered its decision prescribing reasonable rates.
WEEKLY PASS EXPERIMENT. On August 21, 1922, the Commission approved the weekly transferable "pass” for street car rides on the Pacific Electric Railway Company. The first tryout of the plan of this new form of fares, popularly known as a "pass” was made between the cities of Riverside and Pomona. The "pass” costs $1 and entitles the holder to an unlimited number of rides during the 7-day period for which it is issued. This flat weekly rate is an innovation and has been put in voluntarily by many interurban passenger carriers in the state. It is an experiment, by which it is hoped to solve one of the problems of these electric lines.
PADDY RICE RATES. On August 24, 1922, the Commission made an order requiring the carriers of the state to restore freight rates on paddy rice to the basis of 25 per cent in excess of the grain rates and ordered reparation to shippers for charging in excess of that rate.
HOLLYWOOD FARE ADJUSTMENT. On September 2, 1922, the Commission rendered its decision in the case of the Pacific Electric Railway Company's rehearing in the Holly
The principal adjustment feature of the Hollywood case was the order of the Commission requiring the carrier to put in a commutation fare of approximately 8 cents per ride.
CONSOLIDATION OF RAILROADS. On March 2, 1923, the Commission held a conference with all interested carriers, organizations and individuals on the subject of the proposed consolidation or grouping of railroads prescribed by Transportation Act 1920, making it mandatory that the Interstate Commerce Commission, within a certain time, make a tentative grouping of railroads after which any two railroads may make application to the Interstate Commerce Commission and a consolidation may be authorized by the Interstate Commerce Commission, provided such consolidation is in harmony with the tentative grouping previously made by the Commission. The consolidation or grouping of these large trunk lines naturally affects the State of California, and our Rate Department participated in the conference referred to above in a consultatory and advisory capacity as to just what effect such grouping of railroads might have upon rates within the state.
REPARATIONS DURING FEDERAL GUARANTY PERIOD. At the beginning of this year the Commission received complaints from the California Packing Corporation, Hunt Brothers Packing Company, Rosenberg Bros. & Co., Libby, McNeill & Libby, G. W. Hume Co., Richmond-Chase Company et al., Max Schuckl, A. A. Wilson, Sun-Maid Raisin Growers, H. G. Prince and Company, Western Canning Company, and Pacific Coast Canning Company, vs. Southern Pacific Company et al. alleging that the rates assessed on empty fruit and vegetable boxes during the federal guaranty period- March 1, to September 1, 1920— were excessive and unreasonable and demanding reparation against the charges paid.
It will be rembered that Transportation Act 1920 became effective on March 1, but there was a transition period to and including September 1, 1920, during which the government guaranty applied, but during which period there was a debate as to the authority having jurisdiction strictly over intrastate rates. While the revenues of the carriers were under the jurisdiction of the Director General of Railroads, the United States government being the guarantor, at the same time the Interstate Commerce Commission, the government's agency for the fixing of rates, had no jurisdiction over strictly intrastate rates. Therefore intrastate rates which were unjust, unreasonable, excessive or prejudicial during that transition period were in a peculiar situation.
Subsequently, the Interstate Commerce Commission denied that it had jurisdiction. Some carriers claimed that the state commissions had no jurisdiction, but assuming that some one had jurisdiction, and the federal body denying jurisdiction, this Commission has taken jurisdiction covering that period and the cases set out above are the result. These cases are still pending and have not been adjudicated.
REFRIGERATION CHARGES. Complaints have been filed with the Commission by the Western Meat Company, Miller & Lux, and Virden Packing Company alleging that the amounts assessed by the Southern Pacific Company as refrigera
tor charges on shipments of meat and packing house products initially iced by the shipper and not reiced in transit by the carrier, were excessive and unreasonable and should be eliminated.
The Commission, after an extended hearing, ordered the carriers to discontinue the practice of collecting a refrigeration charge of from $5 to $7.50, dependent upon distance, against shipments of meat and packing house products. This conclusion was based upon the fact that the charge had never been assessed in California prior to July 1, 1920, and that it was only being assessed in a certain number of western states. Furthermore, that since the carriers performed no additional service, they were not entitled to the revenue claimed. The practice has been discontinued.
"The Transportation Act 1920 amended section 13 of the Interstate Commerce Act, etc.”
The California Commission continues to cooperate with the Interstate Commerce Commission and with various other state commissions where California interests are involved.
The joint committee of Interstate Commerce Commissioners and members of the National Association of Railway and Public Utilities Commissioners have formulated a plan of cooperation whereby the state commissions may have a representative sit with the Interstate Commerce Commission representatives in all cases in which state rates or nation-wide rates are involved. In the Southeastern Class Rates case, state commissioners from Georgia, Florida and Virginia sat with Interstate Commerce Commissioner Eastman and Examiner Wagner in the hearing of this great case, which is now pending before the Interstate Commerce Commission. In these cases the state's representatives are given free hand to ask questions and are consulted in the passing upon objections and in every way are given the same power by the Interstate Commerce Commission in an interstate case as the state representative would have in a purely intrastate case.
INTERFERENCE WITH INTERSTATE COMMERCE. The Transportation Act 1920, section 416, amending Interstate Commerce Act, section 13, subsection 4, gives power to the interstate commission in cases where it finds that state rates interfere with interstate commerce, to remove such state rates and provide rates in their stead which are in harmony with the interstate rates.
The Wisconsin case, which reached the Supreme Court, seemed to set at rest for all time the question of jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission in such cases under the Transportation Act and the state commissions are in every instance cooperating with the Interstate Commerce Commission in order to prevent frozen rates.
ORCHARD, FARM AND RANGE. On July 1, 1922, all rates on orchard, farm and range products which had not been reduced since August 26, 1920 (on which date increased rates of 1920, ex parte 74), became effective, were reduced 10 per cent under order of the Interstate Commerce Commission and the state rates were likewise reduced. Since that time many adjustments in