Build More Transit Lines -- Rush Hour Relief for Passengers... (1924)
Statement by G. M. Dahl, Letter to Board of Transportation, and Editorial Comments
On July 14, 1924 Gerhard M. Dahl, Chairman of the B. M. T. made public a letter to the new Board of Transportation. At the same time he made the following public statement:
I am sending a letter today to the Hon. John H. Delaney, Chairman of the new Board of Transportation, in view of his opportunity to solve the two real transit problems of New York City, and offering Chairman Delaney and his associates the co-operation of the B. M. T.
The only way transit problems in this city can be solved honestly is for all parties, city officials, transit companies and car riders to get down to the bedrock of facts.
The two transit issues facing the public today are:
1. How and when can the crowded conditions and crowded service be relieved; and,
2. How can the public obtain adequate service at the lowest cost?
Chairman Delaney has the power and ability to solve these problems. In order that he may know the attitude of the B. M. T., and avail himself of our co-operation, I made the following points in my official communication to him:
1. The B. M. T. has not, directly or indirectly, advocated that the Washington Heights or Brooklyn Crosstown routes be connected with its existing rapid transit system. It has not asked that any new route be linked with its present lines. The reason the B. M. T. has not sought new routes is because this Company is not eager to operate new lines, not provided for in Contract 4, on a five cent fare.
2. The City, however, may force the B. M. T. to operate any new lines constructed and connected with its present system and the Company may charge any financial losses, if it wishes, to the City.
Benefits of Unification
This Company, however, mindful of its public duty, will operate any new lines constructed by the City because it believes that the best and most adequate public service will result from unification of operation, and, because it is convinced that extensions built to existing systems will provide maximum construction at lower cost and in less time than independent construction of independent lines at maximum cost over a longer period of time. In other words, the people of this City can obtain more service, a better distribution of service, a more universal service, and a less costly service, by the unification of existing and proposed lines.
If, however, the City authorities desire to construct independent lines and duplicate fares in this City the B. M. T. has nothing whatsoever to lose. All the losses will fall upon the car riders who will have to pay two or more fares if they use two or more lines, and upon the taxpayers and rent payers who will have to bear the cost of construction, if the new lines are not operated at a profit.
Responsibility for Crowding
While the B. M. T. has not asked for new lines it has insisted that the City live up to Contract No. 4 which the City made with the predecessor of this Company and build the Nassau-Broad Street extension in Lower Manhattan; complete the 14th Street Line to East New York; build new shops and yards and lengthen the station platforms so that longer trains can be operated in rush hours.
As long as the City defaults on this contract, its officials alone will be responsible for the disgraceful congestion. This Company has no desire to see these conditions continue. We now say to the new Board of Transportation in effect: "If you will carry out Contract 4, by building the extensions you are obligated to build: and build the shops and yards, which you are obligated to build, and lengthen the station platforms, the rush hour service of the B. M. T. rapid transit lines will be immediately tremendously increased."
No one dreamed 11 years ago when the subway contracts were made that subway development and planning would be stagnant for 11 years.
Road to Action
Mayor Hylan has said that if he could regulate the B. M. T. he would give increased service within 60 days. But, if the City lives up to its contract and builds these lines and shops we will give 50 percent more service through DeKalb Avenue, the neck of the bottle in Brooklyn, in less than 60 minutes after the new lines are turned over to us for operation, just as we began the operation of the 14th Street Line from 6th Avenue, Manhattan, to Montrose Avenue, Brooklyn, immediately after Mayor Hylan drove the first train from Brooklyn to Manhattan when the City completed the construction of the western half of that line on June 30, 1924.
In my letter to Chairman Delaney, I said that the completion of Contract No. 4 "will provide more facilities than could be now afforded by equal expenditure on any other line. From the point of view of maximum additional facilities it would appear that if the City is limited in its financial resources, these links should be given consideration, ahead of any proposed route. The contract and plans contemplated full length trains. Unfortunately, however, many stations are too short to allow full train operation. If the Company is to furnish full train operation as contemplated, provision must be made by the city for lengthening station platforms."
Although the B. M. T. recognizes that the City cannot escape these facts or its responsibility for present conditions this Company realizes, nevertheless, that the City is embarrassed by lacking sufficient funds to build the lines under contract or proposed. This Company, therefore, is ready, at any time, to enter into conferences with the new Board of Transportation or the Transit Commission or both looking forward to a revision of Contract No. 4 and the present or future operation and expansion of rapid transit lines.
New Relations Possible
Further, in my letter to Chairman Delaney, I said:
"While this Company will continue to fulfill its duties under that contract and insist upon compliance with obligations undertaken therein by the City, it is entirely willing to give consideration to a new basis of relation between the City and the Company, whether relating to present contractual conditions or future routes or the means whereby new capital may be available for comprehensive construction."
The B. M. T. is prompted to offer its full co-operation to the new Board of Transportation, because it is convinced that a unification of service and immediate construction are the only means of safe-guarding the public against an endless duplication of fares; duplication of expenditures, duplication of costs and duplication of deficits.
The people of this City have more to gain through the co-ordination of transit service than they have by limitless duplication of service and duplication of fares.
The best policy for New York City today is: "Universal service with one fare."
Text of Official Letter to Chairman Delaney
July 12th, 1924. TO THE BOARD OF TRANSPORTATION, NEW YORK, N. Y.
This Company, as the present contracting party with the City of New York under Rapid Transit Contract No. 4 and related certificates, desires to call certain matters to your attention in view of the jurisdiction conferred upon your Board by Chapter 573 of the Laws of 1924. It is assumed that, because of public need, you will take under early consideration possible additional transit facilities. There has already been very considerable public discussion of possible new routes. In addition this Company has pointed out to your predecessor, the Transit Commission, the need of completing the lines contemplated under Contract No. 4. It is hoped, therefore, that it will not be regarded as out of place if this Company now indicates to you its position on various transit questions so that you may have them before you in an early consideration of transit problems.
B. M. T. Can Live on 5 Cent Fare
The Transit Commission, within the last year, submitted to the Board of Estimate the so-called Washington Heights and Brooklyn Crosstown routes for which there appears to be general public demand and public need. Although the adoption of a route, under the Rapid Transit Act, does not require a determination, at that time, of the operator of the route when constructed, assertions have been made that this Company, directly or indirectly, has been promoting the idea that such routes should be so laid out and constructed that they must be operated by this Company as a part of its system. This is not an accurate statement of the point of view of this Company and for an obvious reason. Under Contract No. 4 this Company is obligated to carry passengers for a five cent fare the length of the system. Such a provision could have been agreed upon at the time the contract was made only on the theory that costs of operation would either remain stationary or decrease. The war, however, intervened and its attending results produced a scale of costs that continues. The predecessor of this Company was compelled, as a result, to go through a receivership and a reorganization.
Interest on City's Investment
This Company was then organized on a financial basis that permits it to live on a five cent fare. This Company therefore can continue to fulfill its obligations under Contract No. 4 on the present fare. It cannot, however, earn what it is justly entitled to under the Contract, nor can anything be earned to pay the interest and amortization on the City's investment in the rapid transit lines operated by this Company. This Company, therefore, is not anxious to have additional lines added to be operated as a part of its system on the present fare provisions. Consequently, any statement from whatever source, may be regarded as inaccurate that this Company, or its related companies, is directly or indirectly, seeking to have these two proposed routes, or any other new routes, linked up as a part of its system under existing contractual conditions.
What City Can Do
On the other hand, this Company is alive to its public duties and obligations under Contract No. 4 and related certificates. That contract provided for the construction of certain lines by the City and their operation as a unified system. While the lines thus to be constructed represented a very great increase in the then transit facilities of the City, it was realized that they did not represent all the future facilities that the City would require, and, although the contracts were made in 1913, the need of further facilities has been obviously apparent for several years past. Consequently, in an attempt to provide for the future, the contracts contain provisions on Extensions under which if the City lays out and constructs a new rapid transit line as an extension to the lines under the contract the City may require the Company to operate such extension as a part of its system. As to accounting, the Company, however, may elect to operate such extension either as a part of the system pool or on a separate accounting. Under the latter, the City is obliged to assume any financial losses resulting from the operation of such extension. Under these provisions as to extensions, the City has the option, as to a new line, either to construct it so as to be operable as part of this system or of another system or independently. On the other hand this Company has no option as to the route or construction of a line, and must operate it, if built as an extension to this system, but it has an option, in such case, on accounting.
Value of One Large System
Those provisions as to Extensions were insisted upon by representatives of the City, doubtless, because it suited public convenience best to have unification of rapid transit facilities rather than from time to time the introduction into the City of independent systems with a separate fare on each. It seemed only fair, that, if at the time agreement was being made as to lines then to be constructed, the Company should also agree to operate extensions in order that the public living along such extensions might have the benefit of unification with the existing system and thereby put on a parity with communities already enjoying the benefit of the facilities of a large system.
Maximum Construction Now!
This Company is mindful of the public duty thus assumed to operate extensions to its system if built by the City. Its position therefore is this, that, while it is not urged that new routes should be laid out and constructed as extensions to its system, nevertheless, it believes that new facilities are needed, and that if the City, through your Board, should lay out and construct new routes as extensions to its system and direct, under the provisions of Contract No. 4, this Company to equip and operate them, this Company will equip them with its own capital and operate them as a part of its system under the contract. It takes this attitude because of its contractual duties and its desire to recognize the increased benefit to the public arising from unification of operation. It also recognizes that with the same amount of public investment more transit facilities can be provided if used to build extensions to this system than if,used to build and equip a system to be operated independently, either by the City or otherwise. Public requirement of additional facilities calls for maximum construction at the earliest moment.
This Company thus desires to make clear its attitude on the construction and operation of new routes. Reference has already been made to the provisions of Contract No. 4 in respect to lines and facilities to be built by the City and by the Company. This Company, and its predecessors, have constructed the facilities that it contracted to provide and for which it has obtained approval. It has in operation such facilities as well as the lines completed by the City and is operating them as a unified system under the five cent provisions of the contract although the City has not carried out its end of the contract to construct all the lines and facilities to which it obligated itself on condition that the Company would do its share. The Company has fulfilled, on a five cent fare, to the best of its ability with the incomplete facilities furnished by the City. It is ordinarily expected that contracts entered into will be fulfilled on both sides. For that reason, therefore, this Company is obligated to itself, its investors and the public whom it serves to direct your attention, thus early upon your entry into your official duties, to the important obligations of the City that have not been fulfilled.
What Needs To Be Done
These obligations are the completion of the 14th Street Line, the construction of the Nassau-Broad Street connection, the construction of shops and yards and the lengthening of station platforms.
The 14th Street Line and Nassau Line were important parts of the system to which this Company agreed and they are essential to rendering of proper service on the lines now in operation in Brooklyn and Queens. Failure to complete these lines for operation has resulted in the disgraceful and dangerous congestion that occurs at Canal Street station every morning and evening of the week and year and has existed for years and must continue for the period of years necessary to construct these lines unless your Board or the Transit Commission can devise or suggest some form of immediate relief that has not occurred to this Company.
Complete 14th Street
As to the 14th Street Line, the subway portion, completed some years ago under contracts let in 1915, was put in operation on June 30, 1924 as a shuttle line. The remainder of the line was, under the provisions of Contract No. 4, to be elevated construction. The Transit Commission, however, at the suggestion of City authorities, asked the attitude of this Company upon a proposed modification of the contract so as to provide for underground construction. This Company replied that it would agree to the modification suggested provided certain physical conditions could be met. It thus replied in the hopes that thereby definite steps would be taken towards actual construction. It is still willing to agree to a modification to a subway as outlined to your predecessor. It is also aware that a subway, if begun, will sometime be completed. And conditions at Canal Street are such that relief must be provided. The completion of the 14th Street Line to East New York, with proper connection, and of the Nassau-Broad Line will allow a large diversion of travel that now congests the Broadway elevated and the Centre Street loop and creates abnormal and dangerous crowding and transferring at Broadway and Canal Street.
Nassau Is Vital Link
The Nassau-Broad Street Line with terminal facilities in Broad Street will furnish the loop operation contemplated in and expected from Contract No. 4. Service in Brooklyn is largely limited by the capacity of the DeKalb Avenue station. This station has 16 tracks feeding into it to and from the 4th Avenue system and the Brighton Beach, with only four tracks to Manhattan, two over the Manhattan Bridge and two through the Montague Street tunnel. There are two additional tracks on the Manhattan Bridge leading to the Chambers Street station that cannot be used for Brooklyn service because of the effort to accommodate the travel through Canal Street coming over the Williamsburg Bridge. In maximum service this Company cannot, therefore, get through the DeKalb Avenue station more than 60 trains per hour which must be apportioned to the various lines that connect with this station and that could accommodate and should have more trains if they could be operated through this station. The completed 14th Street Line would relieve Canal Street and the Nassau-Broad Line would allow loop operation with full use of the four tracks on the Manhattan Bridge and thus permit approximately 90 trains, or a 50% increase, to be operated through DeKalb Avenue station with corresponding increase on each of the outlying lines. These two uncompleted sections, 14th Street and Nassau-Broad, are, therefore, not mere local facilities for a particular locality. They are links that will permit very substantial improvement and increase in service to every part of the system operated by this Company. Failure to complete them means a continuing increased cost of operation to this Company not justified under the contract nor considered as a normal part of cost of operation under the five cent fare. Failure to complete them also means continuing congestion and inconvenience to the public.
This Company is keenly sensitive to the limitations, imposed by failure to construct these links, upon its ability to increase the service to the growing sections of Brooklyn and Queens, and it would be remiss in its public duty if it failed again to urge the proper public officers to give first consideration to the early construction of these links both because the City obligated itself eleven years ago by contract to construct them promptly and because they are urgently needed to furnish the increased service that the public has a right to expect. They will, therefore, provide more facilities than could be now afforded by equal expenditures upon any other line. From the point of view of maximum additional facilities, and also from a realization of the moral and legal obligations of the City, it would appear that, if the City is limited in its financial resources, these links should be given consideration, along with shops, yards and station lengthening, ahead of any proposed new route.
Shops and Yards
It would seem unnecessary to explain the importance of shops and yards adequate to maintain properly the equipment operated upon and under the requirements of a rapid transit system. Yet they have not been provided by the City. The Company has, in consequence, been compelled to maintain and care for its equipment under conditions difficult and more expensive than contemplated by Contract No. 4. It is natural, therefore, to expect that you will desire to give early consideration to the construction of shops and yards so that equipment may, adequately, efficiently and economically, be maintained to that high degree that the public has a right to expect.
Existing facilities are inadequate even for the maintenance of existing equipment except by unusual exertion. They are, therefore, as to an increase in equipment, a barrier that should be removed in order that additional equipment may be obtained and utilized as needed.
The contract and plans contemplated full length trains. Unfortunately, however, many stations are too short to allow full train operation which would permit at least 15% increase in rush hour service. If the Company is to furnish full train operation as contemplated, provision must be made by the City for lengthening station platforms.
This Company, under existing limitations, is endeavoring to improve its service wherever possible and to maintain and increase its equipment in order that it may fulfill its duties to the public. It is endeavoring and desires to earn the confidence of the public that it is giving the best service possible and that it is diligent in seeking further means of improving transportation upon which the distribution of population and industry, and, therefore, the prosperity. of all the boroughs, is dependent.
Will Revise Contract
Reference has been made herein to possible limitations on the debt capacity of the City and to provisions of Contract No. 4 that handicap the Company and serve to restrict consideration of comprehensive transit plans. This Company will be glad to consider from your Board or from the Transit Commission any suggestions looking towards a revision of Contract No. 4 and related certificates bearing upon the bases of present or future operations or expansion. While this Company will continue to fulfill its duties under that contract and insist upon compliance with obligations undertaken therein by the City, it is entirely willing to give consideration to a new basis of relation between the City and the Company, whether relating to present contractual conditions or future routes or the means whereby new capital may be available for comprehensive construction.
Relative to the matters to which reference herein has been made, as well as any other under the jurisdiction of your Board, this Company will be glad to give any expressions from your Board prompt and careful consideration and will be glad to have its officers and representatives confer thereon with your Board or its representatives at any time in order that transit relief may be accomplished without loss of time.
Respectfully, GERHARD M. DAHL, Chairman, Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation
"THE SUBWAYS". There is encouragement in the attitude taken by Gerhard M. Dahl, chairman of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation, who, in a letter sent today to Chairman Delaney of the new board of transportation, offers the fullest co-operation. Mr. Dahl goes as far as anyone could ask him to go. He suggests that the city take steps to fulfill its agreements and provide the means by which the transit corporation can better serve the people. If existing contracts embarrass the city too much, he offers to go into conference with a view to amending the contracts. The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation has gone more than half way along the road to better service. The municipal officials should meet them. New York Bulletin, July 14, 1924.
"WHEN THE MAYOR'S AWAY". The companies that signed the dual subway contracts have expressed their readiness to co-operate with the city in completion of the contracts or even in approved alterations for the enlargement of facilities. No less than sixteen subway tracks feed into the De Kalb Avenue station in Brooklyn, with only six tracks to Manhattan. Also there are short links missing from the Brooklyn crosstown railway, and the Nassau-Broad Street subway, Manhattan. The finishing of these links already contracted for would multiply the usefulness of many miles of rapid transit crippled in operation now. Every dollar spent on these obligations would multiply itself. Neither buses, subways nor trolleys can do the transportation business, but together they can almost work the necessary miracle. It may be hoped that co-operation will go far before the Mayor's return renews obstruction. The New York Times, July 15, 1924.
"SUBWAY PROBLEMS". Mr. Dahl does not insist upon an increase in the fare for the reason that, since reorganization of his company and the increased revenues from operation, the company is able to live on a 5 cent fare. But it is more or less of a hand to mouth existence. But if the company is able to live, the revenues are insufficient to meet the interest and principal on the money invested by the city in the subways. In other words, while the extension of the Eastern District subway to East New York, the construction of the Nassau-Broad Street line, the lengthening of station platforms and the building of shops and repair yards will solve the problems of congestion, the financial problem will not be solved until the city follows the lead of nearly every other city in the country and permits an increase of fare of one or two cents. The Brooklyn Citizen, July 14, 1924.
"SUBWAY AGITATION". Those who remember the agitation that preceded the adoption of the Dual Subway contracts will recall that the reasons given for the long delay were that the transportation companies ... were opposed to extensions of their systems. Today the shoe is on the other foot. Not only has a petition been filed with the city authorities for subway construction by the public acting through the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, but the energetic chairman of the B. M. T. Directors, Gerhard M. Dahl, has written to Transit Commissioner Delaney, asking the completion of the Dual System under the old contract. All this indicates that there is an earnest desire on the part of the public for subway construction. ... The city authorities should take notice of this demand. The Brooklyn Daily Times, July 14, 1924.
"DAHL INSERTS ANOTHER PROD". Gerhard M. Dahl, chairman of the B. M. T. Board denies that his company is angling for the Crosstown subway or its companion route to Washington Heights. But the B. M. T. is ready to operate those lines or any others with which it may he entrusted and calls the city's attention to the facts that with municipal operation they will require extra fares at junction points. The thing the B. M. T. is really insisting on is that the city fulfill its contract obligation to finish the lines provided for ten years ago, specifically, the Nassau Street loop and the Eastern District extension to East New York. The Brooklyn Standard Union, July 14, 1924.
"ONE THING AT A TIME". The building of shops may, as Chairman Dahl of the B. M. T. insists, improve subway service 50 per cent. The lack of extensions, lengthened platforms and these shops may be responsible for congestion. But what does Mr. Dahl expect? Failure to live up to contracts is merely a characteristic of the Hylan program of transit improvements. As Mr. Dahl very well knows, the crying need in this city is for more subways. Last summer Mayor Hylan made a verbal contract with the citizens of Brooklyn and Manhattan to build a crosstown line. Last spring Mayor Hylan breached the contract. If he would do that with his people what would he not do with a contract made with the wicked 'interests'? Fortunately the city's transit problems are now placed in the hands of a Board of Transportation. The important Nassau Broad Street extension may now be built. The shops may be forthcoming. The station platforms may be lengthened. A business arrangement for the operation of new lines may yet be reached. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 14, 1924.
Rush Hour Relief for Passengers on Williamsburgh Bridge and other East New York Lines
B.M.T. Lines · circa 1924
Congestion exists on your line due to the rapid increase in population and travel in Brooklyn and Queens. In the seven years that Mayor Hylan has been in office the number of passengers on our rapid transit lines has increased 134%. Each day there are on the average over 150,000 more passengers on our rapid transit lines than on the corresponding day of last year. The maximum congestion exists for less than an hour, morning and evening, on five and a half days each week, a total of less than eleven hours per week, or only 6.5% of the time. During this small proportion of time most of the passengers are on their way to or from work, but there are many passengers who might find it possible to ride at other times and thus help others and convenience themselves. For example, those passengers who desire to shop will find it more convenient to leave home after nine in the morning and return before five in the afternoon.
This Company finds it thus necessary to ask its passengers to aid in easing the maximum rush period because it is not at present possible for the Company, through no fault of its own, to increase its service during such period on the lines operating across the Williamsburgh Bridge.
Why is service congested during rush hour periods on these lines?
There is no practical way at the present time of increasing the number of cars operated across Williamsburgh Bridge. Inasmuch as the traffic is constantly growing on these lines no relief can be provided except by the completion of the 14th Street line to East New York.
The Williamsburgh Bridge limits the number of trains that can be operated into and out of Centre Street Loop. During the period of maximum operation trains are now operated across Williamsburgh Bridge in one direction at the rate of 52 per hour. This is possible by using two of the tracks of the three-track station at Essex Street for trains in the direction of heavy traffic, and the other track for returning trains. In addition it is necessary to run a certain number of trains through Essex Street Station without a station stop. In order to operate more trains in one direction than the other through Essex Street station, it is necessary at the end of the morning rush hour period to store some trains on the tracks leading to the Manhattan Bridge from Chambers Street station. This makes it unnecessary for the same number of trains to be operated Eastbound that go Westbound, and similarly in the evening it is possible to operate more Eastbound trains than Westbound through Essex Street station, because these stored trains can be used. In addition, it is necessary to run certain trains through the station at Broadway and Myrtle Avenue without station stop in order to get the maximum number of trains through via Williamsburgh Bridge.
The 14th Street Eastern line is necessary in order to increase service to and from East New York. Eleven years ago the City agreed to build this line. In 1915 contracts were let for the western half, which was finished several years ago and then equipped for temporary operation from 6th Avenue and 14th Street, Manhattan, to Montrose Avenue, Brooklyn, which began on June 30, 1924. This is a great convenience to Greenpoint but does not help other parts of Brooklyn and Queens as it was intended to. The City has now made contracts to construct a part of the eastern half of the line but it will be over two years before the work can be completed and any relief afforded.
What were the plans for northern and eastern Brooklyn?
In 1913 the City and the Company signed Contract No. 4, which provided as to these sections:
1. That the City would build the 14th Street-Eastern line from East New York, where it would connect with the elevated lines, to 6th Avenue and 14th Street, Manhattan, with transfer connections at Union Square to the Broadway subway operated by the B. M. T.
2. The Company agreed to build the Jamaica Avenue line and the Liberty Avenue line, to reconstruct and third track the Myrtle Avenue, Broadway and Fulton Street "L" lines.
3. The Company also agreed to equip the lines built by the City and to operate them as a part of the system on one fare.
The Company has done its part. You see and know that the Jamaica and Liberty Avenue lines have been built; that the Myrtle Avenue, Broadway and Fulton Street lines have been reconstructed; and that the Company is operating its entire rapid transit system on a single fare. It would have given much better service if the City had promptly lived up to its contract.
What are the results of failure by the City to live up to its contract, as a private citizen or corporation is expected to?
The results are (1) the Canal Street congestion, (2) inadequate and congested service on the Broadway elevated, (3) the Company is unable to furnish the service that was promised the public by Contract No. 4. The Canal Street congestion arises from the fact that thousands of people now must transfer at Canal Street to reach points on Broadway, Manhattan. The 14th Street line would afford them a direct route, which would be less in distance and time and eliminate the danger and congestion of transferring at Canal Street. Without the 14th Street line, passengers must come in on the Broadway elevated line down to Canal Street and then transfer to trains in Broadway, Manhattan. 50,000 passengers make this transfer twice each day. Over 30,000 of these passengers would use the 14th Street line if it were completed by the City. If these passengers could go directly to Manhattan on the 14th Street line there would be room on the trains on Broadway west of East New York for the public that use the trains operating via Broadway, Brooklyn, and the lines operating cast of East New York could give better service.
Will the Nassau-Broad line give more facilities to your sections?
The City also agreed, eleven years ago, to build the Nassau-Broad line, which was to be an extension of the Centre Street Loop from Chambers Street station south through Nassau and Broad Streets. Passengers then coming in on the Broadway elevated to the Centre Street Loop would be able to reach directly stations in lower Manhattan below the present Chambers Street station. Would this be an advantage to you?
Why hasn't the Fulton Street elevated been reconstructed and third tracked to the Brooklyn Bridge?
This work was held up because the people of Central Brooklyn wanted the Ashland Place Connection. This was a proposal to connect the Fulton Street elevated by an incline and subway to the Fourth Avenue system in order that Fulton Street passengers could have direct train service to Manhattan. This connection must be built by the City. The Company is ready to equip and operate it. If this connection were made the Company would need to buy for this operation from 100 to 200 new subway cars and withdraw from 200 to 400 wooden cars from the Fulton Street elevated. This is a practical way for the City to co-operate in the substitution of steel for wooden cars and at the same time furnish more facilities for the public.
How about additional cars?
The Company is willing and able to buy additional cars but the City has failed to build any shops, although it agreed eleven years ago to build shops. In the meantime the Company has carried out its contract. It has bought 950 steel cars, at a total cost of over $20,000,000, in addition to over 900 cars that it had. In order that safe service may be given, cars should be thoroughly maintained. This means that they must regularly be inspected, repaired and overhauled. On its elevated and subway cars, the Company last year had 1,200 men engaged on maintenance work, at a cost of over $3,600,000, in order to keep those cars in safe, efficient condition. The Company managed to do this work in shops that it had, but they are now being used beyond their capacity. Until the City makes definite provision for the shops on the site acquired at Coney Island, it would be useless for the Company to buy more cars, for they could not be maintained.
When the City has built the shops and completed the 14th Street line to East New York and the Nassau Street line as it agreed to, the B. M. T. can give greatly increased service on its lines in northern and eastern Brooklyn and southern Queens. The B. M. T. has done its part and is prepared to do more, but the City has done practically nothing to provide additional transit facilities and Mayor Hylan has refused even to carry out contractual obligations made eleven years ago that would help the public.
The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation sent to Mayor John F. Hylan the following letter setting forth the facts as to transit conditions to correct mis-statements made by the Mayor:
November 10, 1924.
Hon. JOHN F. HYLAN, Mayor,
City of New York,
City Hall, New York City.
You repeated in your radio address Saturday night a mis-statement which you have made many times, namely, that the transit companies in this town can and do make plenty of money on a five cent fare.
I shall prove to you out of your own mouth that you know this to he a mis-statement. Recently you broadcasted from the municipal radio station a defense of the 1925 City budget amounting to $398,954,226. You complained that the newspapers did not treat you fairly in dealing with this budget. You said:
"As a rule, you will find very few newspapers spending much time in explaining the reasons for the growth of the City budget. They will not tell you that if the purchasing power of the dollar was worth more than the 60 cents which it is today our 1925 budget would not be in excess of $240,000,000."
You also said:
"For example, the war, which brought about very high prices for materials and supplies of every description [is] the cause of most of these high prices continuing to this very day. There is not a man or woman in this city who does not know that it costs more to live since the war than it did previously. It does cost more to live. This applies to the conduct of City Government as well as to your own home."
If a dollar buys 60 cents a nickel buys three cents and, therefore, a five-cent fare today is equivalent to a three-cent fare before the war. Did you ever claim that a three-cent fare was a sufficient rate of fare before the war? Do you claim now that a dollar buys 60 cents and a nickel buys three cents for the City but a dollar buys a dollar and a nickel buys a nickel for the transit companies?
Why doesn't everything you said about the increased expense to the City and the increase in prices for materials and the increase in prices of foodstuffs and clothing apply to the things the transit companies have to buy? Does the increase in prices, as you say, apply to the conduct of City Government and to the homes? If so, why does it not apply to the transit companies?
You yourself have recognized the tact that it applies to the transit companies. Why did you raise the fare on the Williamsburg City line 20 per cent? You know that that is the equivalent of making the fare on our line six cents instead of five cents.
What about your Staten Island street car lines operated by the City? Your own Commissioner of Plant and Structures has admitted that on a five-cent fare they are operating at a loss. On your trackless trolley in Staten Island it has been demonstrated to the public that while you are carrying people for five cents it costs 10.27 cents to transfer each five-cent passenger.
Why don't you be honest with the people and tell them the facts? Why do you attempt to apply one rule to the City's affairs, your trackless trolleys and your Williamsburg Bridge line and another rule to the transit companies?
This Company has never asked for an increase in fare. But it is our duty to tell the public the facts. One fact is that it costs seven cents or more to carry the people who are today riding for five cents. That this can be done is due to two things. First, the City has $150,000,000 invested in lines operated by us on which the City is not getting a cent of return. Second, the investment in our company is not receiving a fair return. Between the total loss of return on the City's investment and the very small return on the company's investment those who ride on the subways get a seven-cent ride for a nickel. But it is our duty to tell them they cannot get an eight-cent or a nine-cent or a ten-cent ride for a nickel at the expense of the investor. If the City desires to pay the constantly accruing deficit, well and good.
Furthermore, you know that under our contract with the City the amount of money we could earn was fixed and that after we received six per cent on our investment the City was entitled to receive interest and sinking fund on its investment. You also know that for the last eleven years we have failed to earn six per cent on our investment to the tune of nearly $16,000,000.
Why don't you deal with the facts of the situation instead of misrepresentation and abuse?
Don't you know that the costs of material and wages which we are paying today are over 100 per cent higher than they were in 1913? Don't you know that men who received 20 cents an hour in 1913 now receive 47 cents an hour; that motormen on the rapid transit lines who received 35 1/2 cents an hour in 1913 now receive 78 cents an hour? Don't you know that steel subway cars which cost $15,000 each in 1913 now cost $35,000? Don't you know that our operating expenses today are $14,000,000 higher than they would be if 1913 prices were in effect? If you don't know these things, why do you talk about transit? If you do know them why do you misrepresent the facts?
Yours truly, GERHARD M. DAHL, Chairman, Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corp.