• U.S.

CARRIERS: Two-Center

2 minute read

Since July 1938, when eastern U. S. railroads wangled from ICC an increase from 2¢ to 2½¢ a mile for basic (coach) passenger fares, the weatherbeaten nose of Daniel Willard of Baltimore & Ohio has been out of joint. During his 60 years in railroading and 30 years as president of B. & O., Dan Willard has been a competitive spirit, and when he fought the increase (which was forced on B. & O.) he protested loudly that it was playing squarely into the hands of the bus lines.

Last week the eastern roads went before ICCommissioner Claude Rodman Porter for a continuation of the 2½¢ fare for more “trial” after its expiration date (March 24). In the sumptuous hearing room of ICC in Washington they found only B. & O. fighting for return of the 2¢ fare. Leading the fight was Dan Willard, who will be 79 before the month is out.

The high-fare group, led by rich Pennsylvania R. R. (which hauls the heaviest traffic in the country on its New York-Philadelphia-Washington run), argued that B. & O. ought not to be heeded because it carries only 5% of eastern passenger traffic, asked for a longer trial of 2½¢ because conditions were unsettled in 1939. Fixing his high-fare friends with a frosty blue eye, Dan Willard retorted that conditions will be just as unsettled in 1940.

“I am definitely in favor,” said he, “of the railroads meeting the challenge of bus competition, which so far we in the east have not done.” So far as he was concerned the 2¢ fare was just what the harried railroads needed, and he plumped resoundingly for a 1½¢ round-trip fare along with it.

Passenger Traffic Manager Walter B. Galloway reported that B. & O. had found out what the high fare meant just two months after it went into effect. From the Washington terminal its 1938 Labor Day traffic was the lowest in history, while the bus lines were hiring everything on wheels to move the holiday traffic.

“We may be the 5% people,” said Mr. Galloway, “but the $15,000,000 that we make on passenger traffic is just as important to us as the $70,000,000 or $100,000,000 is to the Pennsylvania.”

The other roads were more than a little apprehensive that ICC in its decision next month would take Dan Willard’s side.

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