The Field of the Rural Motor Express
TODAY, transportation is the foundation of all prosperity. The growth of cities has pushed the producer many miles back from his market and mines and sources of raw material are so segregated that industrial development, business efficiency, increased production to meet increased demand, in fact, the very livelihood of the nation depends upon an adequate means of transporting goods from the producer to the consumer.
In the whole history of transportation, of its three forms—ships, railroads and highways—the latter received the least attention until the motor truck came forward and supplied for the highways what the steam engine supplied for the railroads and waterways—rapid transit. As a result of the introduction of the motor truck, we are in a new transportation era, that of highway transportation, just as economically justified and just as sure of steady development, as the ships and railroads were in their early stages. In the face of the constantly increasing number of rural motor express routes in operation throughout the country, it is evident that the motor truck serves a field that is not satisfactorily covered by any other means of transportation.
No doubt you have often noticed a string of empty freight cars left on a siding day after day, and thought that waste was hardly consistent with the crying need for cars to carry coal from the coal mines. Delay and unproductiveness such as this are every day occurrences, and the cause of it all is the inconvenience to the railroad of handling what is known as “short haul” traffic—shipments of short distances, and transfer within a city. It is because of this kind of business that a freight car travels on an average, only six miles a day. It is unprofitable business for the railroads. Motor trucks have proven themselves to be qualified to handle this kind of traffic not only quicker and more satisfactorily, but at a lower cost. The gross cost of shipping 100 pounds of freight from New York City to Newark, N. J., for instance, a distance of about nine miles, including teaming charges on both ends, is 91c by railroad and 15c by motor truck. By railroad the shipment takes days while by motor truck it is a matter of only a few hours.
The field of the motor truck is as an indispensable supplement to the railroads rather than as a competitor and it is only a matter of time before they will take over entirely these forms of transportation that are unprofitable to the railroads, that congest their terminals and create a shortage of freight cars for use in long distance haulage.
The potentialities of the motor truck have much to offer toward increased prosperity in this country. They create wealth by increasing land values, and lower prices by establishing more direct connections between the farmer and his market. They give a market outlet to food supplies hitherto unavailable and open up productive regions that have never been touched because of their distance from market and because of the lack of transportation. Their increased use will be of great benefit to the railroads and water transportation lines because they will feed to them tonnage from previously undeveloped sections and sections that the railroads cannot afford to penetrate. They will substitute for the disintegrated personality and limited liability of railroad shipping on short hauls, an agency that personally collects and delivers produce. performing marketing as well as transportation functions.
Through the economies of the motor truck, expensive and inconvenient handlings and special packings of produce that are involved in shipping by rail, are eliminated. Goods are transported from the producer to the consumer more quickly and in better condition than is possible under present methods. The motor truck goes right out among the farmers, gets their produce, and brings it directly to the buyer in the city, without the loss of time on the part of the farmer to take it to the railroad station and on the part of the buyer to call for it at the terminal. The result is an actual saving in dollars and cents in transportation costs, and with perishable products, such as milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, the saving is tremendous. According to a congressional investigation, the people of this country pay more than $500,000,000 a year in excessive costs for transportation of food products and it is estimated that fully fifty per cent, of the perishable food products in America arc wasted through insufficient methods of transportation.
The use of motor trucks by farmers also allows the maintaining of men and horses on the farm that are ordinarily utilized in driving to market with produce. For the farmer who does not ship in large enough quantities to warrant the purchase of one or more trucks, the rural motor express gives him all the convenience of a personally owned truck without the cash outlay. It not only hauls his product to the market, but brings him on the return load the daily requisites of the farm.
To have food and fuel we must have adequate transportation, capable of keeping up with increased production as it is demanded. Every new step in national progress is born of necessity and it is this necessity that points ahead to a steady and tremendous growth of motor truck transportation that will bring with it prosperity and a better standard of living.