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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

The Basis of Rating

The Basis of Rating.

My contention is that what is called the basis of rating is utterly wrong in principle. Railway experts claim that railways ought to be private property, and that they have the right to base their charges on the cost of service—that is, special cost of service—and the mile, and as to the amount of charge, they claim that they have the right to take 'what the traffic will bear; that is to say, all they can possibly get.

On the other hand I claim
1st.That all railways ought to be State owned and controlled, and used primarily for the purpose of enabling people to live on and profitably use land.*page 35
2nd.That the basis of rating ought to be average cost of service, and the density of the location of population through which the service runs.
3rd.That the charge to the public should be cut down to the lowest possible limit.

In order to bring this change about I propose to absolutely abolish mileage and differential rating, and instead to reckon all fares and rates by stages. The length of these stages to be determined by the density of the population they pass through.

The way in which I propose to apply this system in New Zealand is now well known in these colonies, and to many people outside of them, but I have not so far published how I would adapt it to older and more settled countries like England and Continental Europe. For this purpose I now select that portion of the

* In this and some other of the Australasian colonies where the railways have been placed in the hands of absolutely irresponsible Commissioners, we have the worst possible form of private ownership, while the Government is responsible for all loss made and all money due. In New Zealand we are especially badly off, as the vile differential rating system is legalised and in full operation.