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The Mail Pay on the Burlington Railroad   By:

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Statements of Car Space and all Facilities Furnished for the Government Mails and for Express and Passengers in all Passenger Trains on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad

Prepared in accordance with requests of the Post Office Dept.



Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad

The present system under which the Government employs railroads to carry the mails was established in 1873, thirty seven years ago. Under this system, the Post Office Department designates between what named towns upon each railroad in the country a so called "mail route" shall be established. Congress prescribes a scale of rates for payment per mile of such mail route per year, based upon the average weight of mails transported over the route daily, "with due frequency and speed," and under "regulations" promulgated from time to time by the Post Office Department. To this is added a certain allowance for the haulage and use of post office cars built and run exclusively for the mails, based upon their length. The annual rate of expenditure to all railroads for mail service on all routes in operation June 30, 1909, was $44,885,395.29 for weight of mail, and for post office cars $4,721,044.87, the "car pay," so called, being nine and five tenths per cent of the total pay. The payment by weight is, therefore, the real basis of the compensation to railroads. The rate itself, however, varies upon different mail routes to a degree that is neither scientific nor entirely reasonable. The rate per ton or per hundred pounds upon a route carrying a small weight is twenty times greater than is paid over a route carrying the heaviest weight. The Government thus appropriates to its own advantage an extreme application of the wholesale principle and demands a low rate for large shipments, which principle it denounces as unjust discrimination if practiced in favor of private shippers by wholesale. The effect of the application of this principle has been to greatly reduce the average mail rate year by year as the business increases. This constant rate reduction was described by Hon. Wm. H. Moody (now Mr. Justice Moody of the United States Supreme Court) in his separate report as a member of the Wolcott Commission in the following language:

"The existing law prescribing railway mail pay automatically lowers the rate on any given route as the volume of traffic increases. Mr. Adams shows that by the normal effect of this law the rate per ton mile is $1.17, when the average daily weight of mail is 200 pounds, and, decreasing with the increase of volume, it becomes 6.073 cents when the average daily weight is 300,000 pounds."

NOTE. Since 1907 the railroads have been paid at much reduced rates. On the heavy routes the pay is now 5.54 cents per ton per mile.

Post Office Department officials have announced, as their conclusion from the results of the special weighing in 1907, that the average length of haul of all mail is 620 miles.

The bulk of the mail is now carried on the heavy routes at 5.54 cents per ton per mile, or $34.34 per ton for the average haul, that is, for one and seven tenths cents per pound.

The railroads, therefore, receive less than one and three fourths cents per pound for carrying the greater part of the mails.

But the rate reduction for wholesale quantities has not had the effect of reducing the actual remuneration of the railroads for carrying the mails to nearly so great an extent as the increasing requirements for excessive space for distributing mails en route. This feature was likewise discussed by Judge Moody in his report in the following language:

"The rule of transportation invoked is based upon the assumption that the increase of traffic permits the introduction of increased economy, notably, the economy which results in so loading cars that the ratio of dead weight to paying freight is decreased... Continue reading book >>

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