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After much discussion, reports and counter reports, the local passenger fare
2,114 Diminution, 52 per cent,....
1,109 Early in 1843, the policy of the board was again reviewed, and the result made public. At the election of directors, a spirited contest took place, and a majority of five to four was chosen favorable to a change of policy. The expenses were materially reduced, the question with the Bos. ton and Worcester road submitted to an arbitration, the present low rates of freight adopted, averaging not far from 24 cents per ton on the through, and 4, per ton on the way traffic, and the through passenger fare between Boston and Albany fixed at $4 for the first class, and $2,00 for the second class, and the local continued at three cents per mile ; an effort to reduce the latter to 2 cents per mile failing, in consequence of the refusal of the Boston and Worcester Railroad Company to receive a pro rata share.
The reduction took effect in April, 1843. Previous to the reduction, the through passengers had declined in numbers, and for the entire year, the way travellers, whose rates remained unaltered, showed also a decline in first class, and a trifling increase in the second class; but the through pas. sengers, at the rate of two cents per mile, showed a remarkable increase.
The through passengers, for the last eight months of 1842, and 1843, were as follows:
First class. Second class. Total. In last eight months of 1842,
12,667 2,425 15,092 1843,
5,986 23,859 5,206 3,561
8,767 Indicating a gain in numbers of 59 per cent. The freight at the low rates gained through the year, and, at the close, exhibited the following results : Amount carried one mile in 1813,
9,414,621 tons. in 1812,
6,211,971 Increase, 513 per cent.........
3,202,650 tons. The revenue for the year was $573,000, a gain of 12 per cent on the preceding year ; and this whole gain was effected after the reduction of
fare in April. At the close of 1843, however, no dividend having been earned, although a great and progressive improvement had been effected in the affairs of the company, the friends of the high scale of charges rallied, appointed agents to wait upon the stockholders, and collect proxies, and renewed the discussion of fares in the public prints, and again found a persevering ally in the Daily Advertiser.
It was again urged that the rates were less than those of the Boston and Lowell, and English roads, which paid good dividends; that the Western Railroad was costly and expensive to run, passed through a country deficient in population, and must seek a compensation in high charges. But the most effective argument with the stockholders was the absence of a dividend, and the assurance that none could be earned at such low prices. In vain was it urged in reply, that the affairs and prospects of the line were rapidly improving, and a dividend predicted ; in vain was the experience of the past, and of European lines cited; in vain was the winter fare for through passengers raised to 24 cents per mile. The tide of opinion had changed, and was irresistible. The writer declined a re-election, and, at a new election, a majority of the leaders of the high fare party were cho. sen directors ; and, on the first of April, 1844, the through passenger fare was raised to three, and the way fare to 3} cents per mile.
The first effect of this measure was apparently beneficial, and the advocates of high fares were elated with the results. The income of the line continued during the year to increase, and early in the year 1845, the first dividend of 3 per cent was paid to the stockholders. An excess of revenue of $177,555 over that of 1844, a gain of 31 per cent, was exhibited, and the new board of directors were re-elected without opposition, in March, 1845. Soon after the election, however, the annual report of the company was published, and by the tables of the two years, it became obvious the success of the new policy was by no means certain. It appeared, in the first place, that $94,000, or more than half of the entire gain, was derived from an increase of 34 per cent on freight, and that this gain, large as it was, fell short of the ratio of 51} per cent the preceding year, when merchants were tempted to travel by a low rate of charge, and, of course, to purchase goods. On further examination, it appeared that the entire gain of 30% per cent in passenger income, had been aided by extraneous causes. First, by an award making a more favorable toll upon the Boston and Worcester Railroad. The effect of this award was this, that, in 1843, the Western Railroad, in dividing the $4 fare with the Boston and Worcester, received $2,V, or 69 per cent; while in 1844, in dividing the $6 fare, the Western Railroad received $4,880, or 81 per cent.* This award also aid. ed the freight income more than 10 per cent.
Upon further investigation, it appeared that, in the last nine months of 1844, a season of commercial prosperity and remarkable improvement on all the lines of New England, the number of passengers on the Western Railroad had actually diminished ; and this, too, on a route opened for the express purpose of creating a new business between Boston and the West, from which the most rapid increase was expected. The report of the Bos
The passenger revenue, in 1844, derived some benefit from a diminished opposition through the Sound. In 1843 and 1815, the opposition was active and prices low; and in the latter year, some travellers who were deterred from using the Western Railroad by the high prices, availed of the opposition boats, and made a circuit of four hundred miles to reach Albany, via the Sound and Hudson. VOL. XV.NO, III.
ton and Worcester Railroad Company disclosed the fact that the passengers carried for the Western Railroad between Boston and Worcester, were actually two thousand less in 1844, the season of prosperous trade, than in the dull year 1843. On probing the subject a little deeper, it appears that, from January 1st to April 1st, 1844, while low prices prevailed, this class of passengers increased nineteen hundred, or 30 per cent ; while in the last nine months of the year, they fell off thirty-nine hundred, or more than 7 per cent, showing a change of 37 per cent, effected by the rise of fares.
In 1843, the year of low prices, the number passing between the Wes. tern Railroad and Boston, was more than sixty thousand ; consequently this loss of 37 per cent indicates an annual loss of twenty-two thousand two hundred travellers ; and not merely a loss of them, but also of the freight they would have furnished, and the stimulus they would have given to the city. These results are corroborated by the tables appended to the Report of the Western Railroad for 1844, page 45, and for 1843, page 35.
By dissecting these tables, it appears that in way travellers, first class, the whole number on the Western Railroad was
2,636 In the first class, through passengers, advanced from $4 to $6, the diminution is still more striking, viz:In first three months of 1843, through passengers at 3 cents per mile, 1,244 1844,
Increase, 46 per cent,...
Diminution, 18 per cent,..
64 per cent. On the way travellers, least advanced, there was the least loss; on the through, most advanced in price, the loss was the greatest. The only increase was in the second-class passengers, a result which, perhaps, may be ascribed to the fact that many were tempted to submit to inferior ac. commodation to secure a discount of one-third in the rate of charges.
To illustrate the effects of the advance of fares, still further, we may ask what was the increase in passenger revenue in 1844, on low fare roads, whose rates remained unaltered? On the Norwich and Worcester road, the passenger income wasIn 1843,.....
$95,856 85 In 1844.......
135,654 87 Increase, .
$39,798 02 or 41 per cent.
On the Boston and Maine, the passenger income was
e passen. Vorcester,
nus trade, per, it ap prevailed
zed by the
$35,510 39 or 294 per cent.
The average gain of these two roads was over 35 per cent, or 5 per cent more than the Western ; and this, too, with low fares, and on routes long established, and on which there was no reason to anticipate the same ratio of gain as on the Western. If these gained 35 per cent, why should not the Western have gained 40 on a low
passenger tariff, in addition to what it gained from extraneous causes ?
Public discussion of this subject still continued, and public opinion began, at length, to veer round in favor of low fares. But other elements were in
progress, destined to throw new light on the subject, When retiring from the Western Railroad under a full conviction of the magnitude of the error about to be committed, the writer was a director of the Fitchburg Railroad, then in its infancy, a line intermediate between the Boston and Worcester, and the Boston and Lowell. The president of this company, whose untiring zeal and industry have been the theme of so much commendation, had promised to advocate a low scale of charges if the writer would accept the office of director. The office was accepted, and preliminary measures taken to secure low rates, by the adoption of a heavy rail, large and superior engines and cars, and ample depots.
Being placed upon the committee on fares, the writer advocated a fare of two cents per mile, and finally succeeded in establishing a rate of 2; cents per mile for the through trains, and if to two cents per mile for the special trains, and two cents per mile for passengers conveyed to and received from stages, and corresponding rates for freight, viz : four to five cents
per ton, a mile. The Fitchburg Railroad was opened in sections during 1844, with a success and popularity unprecedented, aud was completed to Fitchburg in March, 1845. It has continued to prosper, and within six months after its completion, has attained a revenue of 10 per cent, a result unparalleled by its predecessors. The low prices adopted on the lower section of this line, became, as was anticipated, strong and effectual arguments for reduced charges on the Boston and Worcester, Boston and Lowell, Nashua and Lowell, and Concord and Nashua lines; and, by the close of 1844, a reduction was effected on all these lines.
The prosperity of the lines thus reduced, has since increased in a very striking ratio. To illustrate this, it may be sufficient to cite the progress of the Concord and Nashua, as presented in their report of May, 1846, to the legislature of New Hampshire. Prior to April 1st, 1844, the first-class passenger fare on this line was 3 cents per mile.
November 1st, 1844, it was reduced to 23, and on the 1st of November, 1845, to 2į cents per mile.
On November 1st, 1844, the freight was reduced from 4and four, to four and three cents per mile. The result has been as follows, without any extension of the line :Passengers for year ending April 30th, 1844,
150,530 Gain in two years, 107 per cent,.
77,195 Tons carried in the year ending April 30th, 1844,.
Increase, 109 per cent, or .........
The increased passenger revenue on the Boston and Lowell, and Nashua and Lowell, since the reduction, indicates similar results on both those lines. Other favorable evidence comes to us from the West. On the first of April last, the fare on the Utica and Schenectady Railroad was reduced from $3 to $2 for eighty miles, or from 34 to 2 cents per passenger, a mile. The passenger revenue for April and May, 1845, was,
$64,708 1846, was.
$2,951 The immediate effect of raising the fare is usually a temporary gain ; and the first effect of reduction is usually a loss, followed by gain for years. But here we observe a reduction of one-third, attended with an immediate gain of 4) per cent in revenue, which is equivalent to a gain of 57 per cent in numbers; and, in addition to the benefit conferred on thousands of travellers, giving promise of most gratifying results in future.
But, meanwhile, what has become of the high fare policy of the Wes. tern Railroad ? It has disappeared. The year 1845 rolled away, and the accounts evinced that the nett revenue of the company had made no progress. A moderate gain appeared in freight, and a trifling increase of passengers, absorbed by increased expenses ; but the rapid ratio of gain of 1843, in both, had obviously ceased, while other lines were overflowing with the prosperity of a successful season.*
In the course of the summer of 1845, the decline in the number of through travellers became more perceptible, and the intercourse between Boston and Albany seemed dwindling to a point, while the intercourse be. tween New York and Albany, via the Hudson, was immense. The through travellers between Boston and Albany, From April 1st to September 1st, 1842, were..
9,515 1843, they were..
15,816 Increase at $4, 67 per cent,..
6,301 After the advance to $6, they declined toApril 1st to September 1st, 1844,...
11,175 and for a period, the revenue of the line fell below that of the previous year.
This continued declension in prosperous years, occasioned discus. sion and excited alarm. In October, two of the leaders of the high fare party published a defence of their policy, which failed to satisfy the public. After this unsuccessful effort, no further defence was made, and in Febru. ary, 1846, the high fare directors, without a struggle, gave way to gentle. men of different views. Under the auspices of Mr. Gilmore, the late president of the Concord and Nashua line, the policy of 1843 was revived early in the present year—the through fare placed at 2 cents a mile,
* Passenger revenue for 1844,.........
Passenger gain, 24 per cent only,.........
$8,059 Freight gain, 14 per cent.
Aggregate, 9 per cent. A few months after the opening of the Springfield and Hartford Railroad, in 1844, and the opening of the western railroads of New York for freight, in the same year, there was some increase in the number of passengers, but a decline soon followed