Page images
PDF
EPUB

are grounded in principles hat will stand the | J. W. SLAPPEY and G. R. Slappey, compostest of time and experience, and only time and ing firm of "Cider & Vinegar Co.," Marexperience can determine whether all the pro- shallville, Ga., visions made for their enforcement are safe, sound, and workable. When they prove not to be, experience will be a safe guide in legislation to protect them.

Incidentally in this report some need of amendment has been pointed out. Especially ought the Law, as we think, to indicate in

plain terms whether the express business and

transportation by the carriers named in the Act shall be governed by its provisions. The provision against the sudden raising of rates ought to be clearly made applicable to joint rates as well as to others. The Commission ought also to have the authority and the means to bring about something like uniform-ant. ity in the method of publishing rates, which is now in great confusion, and to carefully examine, collect, and supervise the schedules, contracts, etc., required by the Law to be filed, as well as properly to handle the mass of sta tistical information called for by the twentieth section. For all these purposes, as well as for others imperfectly provided for, a considera ble addition to the force employed with the Commission will be indispensable.

Other matters, and particularly whether

transportation by water shall be made subject
to the Act, are submitted to the wisdom of
Congress without recommendation.

All which is respectfully submitted.
Dated December 1, 1887.

THOMAS M. COOLEY,

WILLIAM R. MORRISON,
AUGUSTUS SCHOONMAKER,
ALDACE F. WALKER,
WALTER L. BRAGG,
Interstate Commerce Commissioners.

INTER S.

v.

CENTRAL R. R. CO. OF GEORGIA; Bruns-
wick & Western R. R. of Georgia; Sa-
vannah, Florida & Western R. R. Co., and
South Florida R. R. Co.
(No. 104.)

ABSTRACT of complaint filed December unjust discrimination. Petitioners ship from Marshallville, Georgia, to Tampa, Florida, 527 miles, and are charged $1 per 100 pounds by the Central R. R. Co. of Georgia, which connects with the other roads. Rates are made with the first named defendThe rate of defendants from Macon, Georgia, to Tampa, a distance of 564 miles, is only fifty-two cents. This constitutes unjust discrimination against complainants.

R. T. KNOWLES

v.

OHIO & MISSISSIPPI R. R. CO. (No. 105.)

ABSTRACT of complaint filed December unjust charges.

[blocks in formation]
[graphic]

Re EXPRESS COMPANIES.

Express business, when conducted by a railroad company, is within the provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act; but independent express companies are not subject to the Act, not being included among the common carriers declared to be subject to the provisions of the Act as they now stand."

(Heard Oct. 25.-Decided Dec. 28, 1887.)

ON
N notice from the Commission to the various
express companies to show why they should
not comply with the provisions of the Inter-

state Commerce Act.

Arguments of counsel on behalf of the press companies are given ante, 448—462.

OPINION OF THE COMMISSION.

It is claimed as a reason for the surrender

of this business by the railroads to the express companies that the rapidity and certainty required in this service can best be secured by a special organization, largely composed of trained servants, whose attention is given exclusively to the handling of this class of traffic, and that the present satisfactory results could not be attained by undertaking to carry it on through the regular employees of the railroad companies. This is, no doubt, in a great measure true. Nevertheless it has been ex-found practicable on some important lines to

organize an express service as a department of the traffic of the company. And it should be further remarked that the practice of turning over a branch of the carrier's business to a third party by contract is susceptible of indefinite extension.

carried and delivered by them at the usual ulation is expressed or understood upon all rate of charge for such service." Such a stipthe lines.

WALKER, Commissioner:

>>

A considerable part of the movement of freight from one State or Territory to another, throughout the United States, is carried on by so-called "Express Companies.' Originally suggested, as it seems, by the employment of messengers to carry bank exchanges of money and securities, the system has developed into a very general method of transporting all prop erty of special value or of perishable nature, or when speed in transit is for any reason desired. It is pursued upon substantially all the lines of railroad in the country, as well as upon steamboat lines, stage coaches, and other vehicles of carriage. The charges collected for such transportation are relatively high, as compared with the ordinary freight business of railroad A messenger usually accompanies the exand steamboat companies, but the service is press freight in transit, who is not in the emrapid and accurate. The existence of express ploy of the railroad companies, and the busicompanies and the facilities which they fur-ness of receiving and delivering the goods and nish have developed to immense proportions a property transported is managed by employees business adapted to the requirements of such of the express companies, who are generally traffic. Railroad companies prefer that freight entirely distinct from the agents of the railin small parcels and of the nature in other re- road lines, although at the smaller stations the spects considered appropriate to the express same person is often employed by both. So business, especially when quick transit is essen- far as the public is concerned, this business is tial, should be handled by those agencies. wholly done by the express companies, the The public is no doubt better served by them shipper and receiver of the property having no in some respects than it would be by the ordi- contract relation with the corporation or pernary methods of railroad transportation. For son owning the railroad or other system of various reasons, therefore, the custom of send- transportation employed, but dealing excluing all such business "by express" has become sively with the express company operating on a matter of course, and the methods of its the route desired, to which alone he looks in transportation have been highly systematized. case of loss or damage. The express company In fact, although as to some articles the ship itself thus becomes a common carrier, employper has a choice whether they shall be sent as ing instrumentalities of commerce, in part its express matter or as freight, there are many own and in part hired from other carriers and which the railroad companies seem to regard having the responsibilities, duties, liabilities, as more appropriate for transportation by the rights, and liens of a common carrier in its reexpress companies, and relinquish wholly to lations with the public. Its position in this respect has been judicially ascertained, is well understood throughout the country, and is not seriously in dispute.

them.

The companies engaged in this peculiar method of conducting interstate traffic are known by the following names:

Contracts are made with the railroad company to furnish space upon fast trains for the express business, which may be paid for by the year, by the space occupied, by the weight carried, or according to an agreed division of the gross receipts, or of the profits. The method of ascertaining the compensation to be paid for the carriage of the messengers and freight varies greatly in different portions of the country. Perhaps the most usual contract is one which pays to the railroad company 40 per cent of the gross receipts of the express company.

The contract on file in this office, between a leading railroad company and the express company which handles its parcel traffic, contains the following clause: "All matter seek ing transportation by passenger trains shall be considered and treated as express matter (except the personal baggage of passengers on the train, and milk, and excepting such matter as the railroad company, through its representa tives, shall elect to carry free of charge); with these exceptions, all such matter shall be turned over to the express company and be

Adams Express Company, American Express Company, Baltimore & Ohio Express Company (Recently acquired by the United States Express Co.), Canadian Express Company, Dominion Express Company, Erie Railroad Express, National Express Company, Northern Pacific Express Company, New York

& Boston Dispatch Express Company, Pacific | be divided among several companies there Express Company, Southern Express Com- might be occasions when the public would pany, United States Express Company, Wells, be put to inconvenience by delays which Fargo & Company. would otherwise be avoided. So long as the public are served to their reasonable satisfaction, it is a matter of no importance who serves them. The railroad company performs its whole duty to the public at large and to each individual when it affords the public all reasonable express accommodations. If this is done the railroad company owes no duty to the public as to the particular agencies it shall select for that purpose. The public require the carriage, but the company may choose its own appropriate means of carriage, always provided they are such as to insure reasonable promptness and security." [Express Cases, 117 U. S. 23 (29 L. ed. 801).]

The express business is, therefore, very largely noncompetitive. Cases exist where two or more railroad or steamboat lines, over which different express companies have contracts, reach the same terminal or junction points; but, so far as the public are aware, there has been little difficulty in establishing and maintaining agreed rates in such instances. Rate wars or even the existence of any active competition among express companies have seldom, if ever, been heard of. Interchange of traffic between the different companies at points of junction is carried on without friction, usually upon the simple theory that the public in such cases must pay the charges of two companies in stead of one.

Each of these companies operates a certain territory as its own, the entire country having been definitely subdivided among them by agreement or by chance. The right of rail road companies to make an exclusive contract with a selected express company for the hand ling of all the express business upon its line has recently been established by the Supreme Court of the United States. The language used is as follows:

"The reason is obvious why special contracts in reference to this business are necessa ry. The transportation required is of a kind which must, if possible, be had for the most part on passenger trains. It requires not only speed, but reasonable certainty as to the quantity that will be carried at any one time. As the things carried are to be kept in the personal custody of the messenger or other employee of the express company, it is important that a certain amount of car space should be specially set apart for the business, and that this should, as far as practicable, be put in the exclusive possession of the expressman in charge. As the business to be done is 'express,' it implies access to the train for loading at the latest and for unloading at the earliest con venient moment. All this is entirely inconsistent with the idea of an express business on passenger trains free to all express carriers. Railroad companies are by law carriers of both persons and property. Passenger trains have from the beginning been provided for the transportation primarily of passengers and their baggage. This must be done with rea sonable promptness and with reasonable comfort to the passenger. The express business on passenger trains is in a degree subordinate to the passenger business, and it is consequent ly the duty of a railroad company in arranging for the express to see that there is as little in terference as possible with the wants of pas sengers. This implies a special understanding and agreement as to the amount of car space that will be afforded, and the conditions on which it is to be occupied, the particular trains that can be used, the places at which they shall stop, the price to be paid, and all the va rying details of a business which is to be adjusted between two public servants, so that each can perform in the best manner its own particular duties. All this must necessarily be a matter of bargain, and it by no means fol lows that because a railroad company can serve one express company in one way it can as well serve another company in the same way and still perform its other obligations to the public in a satisfactory manner. The car space that can be given to the express business on a passenger train is, to a certain extent, limited, and, as has been seen, that which is allotted to a particular carrier must be, in a measure, under his exclusive control. No ex-sion a letter was received from the Canadiar press company can do a successful business Express Company as follows: unless it is at all times reasonably sure of the means it requires for transportation. On im portant lines one company will at times fill all the space the railroad company can well To the Hon. the Chairman of the allow for the business. If this space had to Interstate Commerce Committee,

"Canadian Express Company, General Superintendent's Office, Montreal, April 1, 1887.

Their methods of organization are very di verse. Some, like the Southern Express Company and Wells, Fargo & Company, are corporations, holding charters from State Legislatures which authorize them to carry on the express business by name; others, like the American Express Company and the National Express Company, are not corporations, but quasi partnerships, with additional powers recognized by legislation in the State of New York, where more than seven persons are united; being called joint stock companies, having transferable shares of stock, with such perpetuity of organization as the articles of the association provide, and the right of suing and being sued in the name of the president or treasurer; but the shareholders being, nevertheless, liable, as partners, among themselves and to the public. There is nothing in the nat ure of the express business which prevents its being carried on by an ordinary partnership or even by an individual, provided the neces sary contracts can be obtained with transportation lines. Others are practically branches or bureaus of the railroad companies themselves, acting under a distinct head and through separate organizations, but the profits of the business accruing to the railroad treasury. Others still are combinations of roads, organized in an aggregate form, for the purpose of transacting the express business of their several lines. Soon after the organization of this Commis

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Washington, D. C. Dear Sir: Will you please inform us whether the law recently enacted, known as the Interstate Commerce Act, will apply to express companies? It has been thought by some that inasmuch as express companies are only forwarders and patrons of the various railways and steamboats that their operation would not come under this Act. My reason for asking is the fact that this company's business extends into the United States, over the Grand Trunk Railway, between Island Pond, Vermont, and Portland, Maine, and also over the same company's line between Port Huron, Michigan, and Detroit; and, wishing to be in a position to meet all requirements of law, you will greatly oblige us by letting us know our position in this matter.

Awaiting your early reply,

I remain Yours Truly,
(Signed)
G. Cheney,
General Superintendent."
To which the Commission replied thus:
"April 4, 1887.

G. Cheney, Esq.,
Gen. Sup. Can. Exp. Co., Montreal, Canada.
Dear Sir: Your letter of the first inst., re-
questing the decision of the Commission upon
the question whether the Interstate Commerce
Law applies to express companies, has been
laid before the Commission and duly consid-
ered.

of said section forthwith. Should you desire
to be heard upon the matter the Commission,
before final action, will entertain the considera-
tion of a written or printed argument, if filed
within thirty days, provided you give us no-
tice at once of your intention to do so.
For the Commission.

Very Respectfully,

Edward A. Moseley, Secretary." To this communication various responses were received. The general manager of the Erie Express Company, under date of July 27, wrote as follows:

"I inclose herewith a circular issued by this company on April 5 last, which will evidence to the Board of Interstate Commissioners that the Erie Express voluntarily came under the ruling of the Interstate Law on April 5, 1837, after the decision of your board in answer to an inquiry made by the Canadian Express Company; also that we are now working on the basis of the circular issued at that time.

[blocks in formation]

"Notice.

Erie Express, Tariff Department,
New York, April 5, 1887.

If any express company desires to be heard by the Commission on the question you raise, an early opportunity will be afforded for the purpose, but until such hearing is applied for the Commission will assume that the law does apply to such companies.

To Agents:

Very Respy. Yours,

To the

To conform to the Interstate Commerce Law in effect today, which provides that it thall be unlawful to charge or receive any greater compensation for a shorter than a longer distance (Signed) T. M. Cooley, Chairman." over the same line in the same direction, the This company thereupon filed with the Com- shorter being included in the longer distance, mission schedules of its rates and charges. Aft-agents are hereby instructed in regard to billerwards the Dominion Express Company and ing that where a rate to a point on the Erie Exthe Northern Pacific Express Company also press lines is greater than to a point beyond in filed schedules under the sixth section of the the same general direction to charge the lesser Act to Regulate Commerce. It becoming ap- rate. parent that other express companies did not consider the Act as applicable to them, the Commission, on July 19, 1887, caused the following letter to be sent to each: "July 19, 1887. - Express Company: The Commission has observed your failure to comply with the requirements of section 6 of the Act of Congress, approved February 4, 1887, entitled an Act to Regulate Commerce. In view of the time which has elapsed since the Law went into effect it is obvious that this failure on your part is intentional and not mere. ly inadvertent. The reasons for the course taken by your company have not as yet been laid before the Commission, and it has not as yet entertained the consideration of the question whether or not express companies are common carriers subject to the provisions of said Act, further than to say on April 4, 1887, in answer to an inquiry by the Canadian Express Company, that until a hearing upon the subject is asked for it will assume that the Law does apply to such companies. The Commission is now ready to act definitely upon this subject. Your company is therefore notified and requested to comply with the provisions

The tariff to comply with the requirements of the Law will be changed as soon as possible. I herewith furnish you the rates between New York and Boston to the principal points in the Erie system and rates between intermediate points must not exceed these rates in any instance.

From New York and Boston to Rochester, N. Y. 125; Buffalo, N. Y. 125; Cleveland, O. 150; Toledo, O. 200; Cincinnati, O. 200; Chicago, Ill. 250.

Respectfully,

W. A. Dieney, Jr., Chief of Tariff. Approved: W. M. Clements, General Manager.'

""

Afterwards, on September 21, 1887, the Erie Express Company, by its attorney, claimed the benefit of the briefs filed by counsel of the other companies in opposition to the applicability of the Act to the express business. The Pacific Express Company, on July 27, wrote the Commission as follows:

"Omaha, Neb. July 27, 1887.
Hon. Edw. A. Moseley,
Secretary Interstate Commerce Commission,
Washington, D. C.
Dear Sir: I beg to acknowledge receipt of

« PreviousContinue »