1963: Motor Transportation
Archives consist of articles that originally appeared in Collier's Year Book (for events of 1997 and earlier) or as monthly updates in Encarta Yearbook (for events of 1998 and later). Because they were published shortly after events occurred, they reflect the information available at that time. Cross references refer to Archive articles of the same year.
1963: Motor Transportation
In 1962, for the first time in 10 years, the amount of intercity bus transportation in the United States showed an increase, and for the first time in history, the bus lines provided more intercity passenger-miles than the railroads. Contributing to this situation were more skillful advertising, improved buses and roads, and the abandonment of various rail passenger operations.
Among the public carriers of passengers, airlines have been in first place since 1957, each year widening their lead over the bus lines and the railroads. The private automobile, however, still produces almost nine times as many passenger-miles as all other forms of public transportation combined.
Traffic and Earnings.
In 1962 intercity truck transportation in the United States continued its steady growth by performing more ton-miles and gaining a larger proportion of the nation's total freight transportation than in any prior year. In the period 1952-1962 the volume of truck transportation increased by 64 percent, while the aggregate amount of freight transportation by all other means increased by only 12 percent; rail freight transportation actually declined in quantity.
Annual revenues for the trucking firms have also increased steadily and, although the available current data are incomplete, are expected to exceed railroad freight revenues. The net earnings of the trucking industry progressed with less regularity, but the 1962 earnings were relatively high and it is anticipated that 1963 earnings will be still higher. This is partly because of improved management, economies resulting from mergers in recent years, and financing made possible by the improved credit standing of trucking companies with banks and other institutions that supply capital.
Liberalization of Weight Limits.
Truckers have long complained of the severity of the legal limits imposed by many states on the weight of highway freight-hauling equipment. A tractor-trailer combination making a trip through several states must conform to the minimum requirements of the strictest of these states. This has caused the truckers' expenses per ton-mile to be higher than if greater-capacity combinations with heavier loads were operated.
In the continual process of liberalization of the weight limits (previously a slow process), 1963 was a banner year. As a result of changes in the laws of many states during the year, it became possible for the first time to operate a tractor-trailer combination with a maximum gross weight of 73,280 pounds almost anywhere in the United States, a goal that the trucking industry had long sought to attain. Many states also increased their limits on the length of a combination, and a few increased the width or height limits. This liberalization of restrictions on the weight and size of the motor carriers' equipment reflects not only the construction of more miles of high-standard roads but also the growing strength of the trucking industry.
Air Freight Competition.
Truckers generally provide the fastest form of surface freight transportation. The airlines have not provided very effective competition because their freight rates have generally been much higher than those of the trucking companies. In October, however, Slick Airways established rates that, on many shipments, are only slightly higher (in a few cases a little lower) than the motor-carrier rates between the same points. The service is deferred, requiring more time than the airline's regular service, but it is generally quicker than motor-carrier service. The rates, like trucking rates, apply on a door-to-door delivery basis.
The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), a federal agency that regulates the airlines, initiated an investigation into the lawfulness of the rates but meanwhile has permitted them to be placed in effect. The rates are to expire in July 1964 unless renewed and, according to the CAB, 'may well be a useful experiment.' It is unlikely that the truckers will regard them as such.