Explanation of the Benefit of L Roads.
Hearing by Cambridge Aldermen on the Proposed Location.
Report of the Minority of the Street Railway Committee.
Favoring the Extension of the Meigs Charter.
"The legislative committee on street railways has made two reports on the petitions of S.B. Hinckley and others for authority to build and operate an elevated railway in Boston and its suburbs, and of the Meigs Elevated Railway company for an amendment to its charter. The majority report is in the form of a bill, and the minority report favors a change of the phraseology of this bill. The reasons assigned by the minority of the committee for not concurring in the main report are as follows:
We agree with the majority that street railways have become a necessity in all our large cities; that they are expected to carry large number of people to and from these homes and their business at the highest speed which the safety and convenience of the public will permit; that the present street railways of Boston are now doing especially during certain hours of the morning and evening, all that can possibly be done; that the evidence shows that during the last year over 100,000,000 passengers were carried by the street railway of Boston; and that the number so travelling and desiring to travel is constantly and rapidly increasing.
It is very clear to us that some additional means of conveyance will soon be imperatively required to meet the increasing demands of the people. The West End Railway Company into which all the lines of street railroads have merged, propose to meet this want by substituting a cable road for horse power. We are constrained to differ from those of our committee who adopt thus view. As to cable roads, a few words will suffice. No such matter was before the committee, although they were carefully investigated at the suggestion of the remonstrants in an extended trip to the West. They are subject to all the delays incident to surface obstructions, hence the speed obtainable will be only slightly greater than that by horse cars. The cable system of transportation has proved insufficient where it has been adopted.
Many of the streets of Boston are narrow and crooked. Nearly all of them are crowed with teams, vehicles and foot passengers. Substituting a cable for horses will not help the difficulty. In wide and long streets the cable system would doubtless run without much obstruction, but where the streets are narrow and crooked, the passage of carriages and heavily loaded teams from a narrow side street on to the track might cause delays that would interfere with the workings of the entire cable system.
It is not motive power which is wanted, but it is room to move in. Horses can readily haul the cars from five to eight miles an hour, but experience shows that they do not average four miles in the city proper. At certain hours in the day long blockades occur, interfering seriously with teams and carriages, making crossing dangerous and delaying passengers for long periods. If the cable system were adopted the cars could not safety go faster than horses can draw them, and every minute gained by increased speed would increase the:
Danger to Teams and Foot Passengers.
In the streets, And if the cable roads could do all that is claimed for them, it must be that within a very few years they would be as insufficient to carry the people who desire to travel as the horse cars now are.
So far as we can learn elevated roads have been a success wherever they have been adopted. Instead of decreasing, they have, on the whole, largely increased who the value of adjacent real estate. In special cases where the value of abutting property is lessened, suitable provisions can be, and in the bill which we present herewith are made. The streets of a city are primarily for the convenience of the citizens in moving from place to place. The accessibility obtained by so doing has led those seeking locations to erect along the sides of streets such buildings as they desire. Due regard should be paid to the owners of property, but the principle object of streets should not be lost sight of.
We believe that while elevated roads can not be judiciously placed in all streets now occupied by horse cars, there are many streets where they can be so constructed and run, and that the saving in time to business and working men of from half an hour to an hour each day would be an immense gain to the public-far exceeding any loss occasioned by such roads. We have noted the names of the petitioners in aid, and find among them a great number of public spirited citizens of large means and representing many millions of taxable property. We believe that they are in earnest in their desire to build and maintain an elevated road. We can see that the cars on such roads will run rapidly and smoothly through the air on rails where there are no obstructions, and where there will be no blockades or delays. We think it will be safe to trust municipal officers to permit such roads upon such streets, only as the public good requires and where most benefit will be attained and where least harm will be done. We are confident that within a few years an elevated railroad will become a necessity, and if a permissive bill should now be granted some time must elapse before the road can be located and built. By that time any and all surface railroads will be overcrowded and totally insufficient to meet the wants of the people. To meet their demands, which are imperative, we have submitted a bill.
And further in regard to elevated roads, so far as it relates to the petition of
The Meigs Elevated Railway Company
For amendments to its charter granted in 1884, there is no doubt about the imperative need of better transit facilities between Cambridge and Boston. The establishing of a cable road between those points will not, in our opinion, give the desired relief and the improbability of an underground system leaves the elevated as the only solution of the problem. It is a significant fact that no opposition was made by any citizen of Cambridge. While many appeared in favor thereof. No counsel appeared in opposition to the granting of favorable legislation for that company relative to the route between Bowdoin square and Cambridge save that of the West End railway. Whose sole aim was to prevent competition. The feeling in Cambridge appears to be almost unanimous in favor of having an elevated road in operation at once, but it is found impracticable unless relief is granted from the onerous legislation of the past. The good faith of the company petitioning has been shown, and all that the inventor of the Meigs system asks is a fair chance to give what is so much desired. The bill submitted by the majority as Senate No. 248 is sufficient, in our opinion, to accomplish this result.
The committee was unanimous in favor of the bill, though the minority differed as to the phraseology in some sections, and desired to go further by according to this corporation the same right to petition for and obtain assessment of damages at once as is given to property holders by section 7 of chapter 87 of the acts of 1884. No evidence has been given of a desire to evade the payment of whatever damages may be incidental from the establishing of the road, but on the contrary, the willingness of the petitioners has been plainly shown, they only asking for an equitable adjudication of such damage when it can be shown to have occurred.
Entertaining these views, we have seen fit to dissent from the bill reported by the majority of the committee for the Meigs Elevated Railway Company and their report on the petition of S.B. Hinckley and others. We distinctly state our desire for proper protection to all property; but, that having been provided for. We feel that the enterprise which is of such importance to the community should not be unjustly hampered, but should on the contrary, have its rights protected.
FRANK W. HOWK Of the Senate.
DANIEL GUNN Of the House."
Source: Boston Globe, May 13, 1888