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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61

Cheap Transit

Cheap Transit

Lies at the root of all commercial and social prosperity. I believe it might be laid down as an axiom that the commercial and social prosperity of any country, or district, is in exact proportion to its transit facilities.

If it be true that all wealth proceeds from the land, how important is it that we should be able to move its people and products as cheaply, speedily, and easily as possible.

When a man is selecting a piece of land, whether it is required for use as a farm, a factory site, or for residental purposes, the very first question he asks himself is, How much will it cost me to get my people and goods to and from it?

Land without access can have no value; but it will assume a value, and that value will increase, just as its transit facilities are increased.

In a country where the railways belong to the community, charging interest on the cost of the permanent way* simply means collecting so much taxation. It is as much taxation as page break collecting tolls on a turnpike road. If you do not expect interest from an ordinary road, why should you do so from the permanent way of a railroad. Your railroad is your high road, your macadamised road frequently only a bye one, and clearly if any road should be free it should be the high road, your main line of traffic.

Everybody knows the great

* On ordinary roads, people either provide and work their own rolling stock, or they pay carriers to do so for them. Therefore the Government must charge for the conveying done, such a price as would not only pay interest on the cost of the rolling stock, but also such a profit as carriers generally charge; otherwise those who have to use ordinary roads would be placed at too great a disadvantage.

My contention is that the direct payment of interest ought not to be the first consideration; but rather the settlement of the country, the development of its resources, and the conveniences of its inhabitants.