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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

The New System Described

The New System Described.

In place of the present system, I propose to reckon all fares and rates by stages, in the following manner:—

Starting from any capital town (for this purpose I treat any town having a population of not less than 6,000 as a capital town), I propose to place on every line running out of that town four stages, as near as may' be, seven miles apart, and then, should there be a stretch of country of fifty or more miles not having a town of 2,000 inhabitants, to make the stages 50 miles each. Outside each town of 2,000 inhabitants I propose to place one seven-mile stage on each line, and outside towns of 4,000 two seven-mile stages.

Memorandum.—I do not propose to fix the stages arbitrarily at the distances mentioned, but at the best collecting and distributing points nearest to them.

That in place of the present tickets, railway stamps should be issued and sold by every licensed stamp-vendor.

That stamps of a different colour or description should be issued which would entitle the holder to pass from a station immediately preceding a stage station to the next station beyond it, and thus save him from paying a double fare for a very short journey. The same will apply to goods traffic.

When the lines become filled up with seven-mile stages, and the revenue will admit of it, then I propose that the out-side seven-mile stage from each capital town shall be removed, then the next stage, and so on, until the stages are only between towns of 6,000 or more inhabitants. By persistently following this plan, we may ultimately see our way, as regards passengers at any rate, to making one fare only for any distance within the Colony.

From time to time, as the revenue will stand it, the fares and rates from stage to stage to be reduced to the lowest possible limit.

Note.—The stages would be re-adjusted after each census is taken, and placed in accordance with the movement of the population. Thus should, say, Frankton be found to contain 2.000 inhabitants, one seven-mile stage would be placed on every line running out of that town. If it had increased to 4,000 souls, then two seven-mile stages, or if 6,000, then four steges. Thus Frankton would have to contribute its fair share of the burden of transit charges, and each town as it developed would be treated in a similar manner.

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It may be objected that the interposition of these new stages will increase the through fare, but this need not be the case, for it is obvious that if the number of stages were increased, say 25 per cent., that the charge per stage could be reduced 20 per cent., and consequently the through fare would remain the same, while all the local rating would be reduced. It is easy to see what a development of trade this would lead to. If the stage rate was considered low enough, then the proper plan would be to place the new stages where required, and remove a corresponding number from those weaker districts which at the time stood most in need of assistance.

Under this system, if it was thought desirable to raise the through fare, new stages would be introduced without disturbing the local traffic, except in the immediate vicinity of these new stages. Thus, placing new stages at Mercer and Ngaruawahia would not in the least affect the local traffic round Auckland, Frankton, Helensville, etc.

That the Government should be relieved of their present responsibility as carriers.

That an Insurance Department should be established in connection with the Railway Department, where, by payment of a small fee, either life, limb, or goods could be insured.

Under the Stage System, the basis of rating is average cost of service and the density of population through which the service runs. At present the basis of rating is special cost of service and the mile.