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Notes on the Collection of Transfers

W. J. Sidis




        12. Reversibility of Fares.  As a general rule, the regular fare on a system over a certain route from any point to any other point will be the same as the reverse fare over the same route and the same system from destination to starting point. This will generally be true irrespective of how many changes have to be made or how many zones have to be passed through, or how many systems have to be traversed, provided always that the original trip and the reverse trip are between the same two points, and over the same routes and the same systems on each part of the routes. There are occasional exceptions to this rule, but these are usually due to some little carelessness in planning a complex transfer system. We may give a few illustrations of such exceptions to the reversibility of fare, taken from New York and Philadelphia, where these instances are commonest. In New York City, on the "green car" system (New York Railways), a passenger boarding a green car at the West 42nd Street Ferry can get a free transfer good south on Broadway; he can transfer to a southbound Broadway car at Broadway and 34th Street, and go down to, let us say, Union Square; the total fare is five cents. But this free transfer was really not intended to be used below 23rd Street, though not so restricted. Hence a passenger trying to make the reverse trip, boarding a northbound Broadway car below 23rd Street, cannot get a free transfer to the West 34th Street car which will take him to the West 42nd Street Ferry; a two-cent transfer is required, making the fare between the ferry mentioned and Union Square five cents southbound and seven cents northbound. By exactly the same process, from the corner of 14th Street and First Avenue to the Grand Central Station over the 14th Street Crosstown and the 4th Avenue lines is five cents northbound, and ten cents southbound. Another case on the same system is from points on Seventh Avenue to East 8th Street, the fare being five cents southbound and seven cents northbound; this seems to be due purely to an oversight in not granting the free transfer in the other direction. There are a few other instances of the same thing in New York City, both in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

          In the case of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit system, the cases in which a repeat transfer privilege is permitted have not been arranged with sufficient care to insure complete reversibility of fare in every instance. Thus, a passenger on almost any car line intersecting the Frankford Elevated can get a transfer for a ride on the elevated trains. Let us say we start from the corner of Torresdale Avenue and Bridge Street and take the "58" car, getting a transfer which is good on the elevated, so that for the original seven cent fare* he goes on the elevated train into the 13th Street subway station, where our passenger can get off and get a "subway surface" car to, let us say, Darby, still for his original fare. But let our passenger start from Darby and try to get back to the corner of Torresdale Avenue and Bridge Street in Frankford. The transfer needed between the elevated train and the "58" cannot be obtained, and it requires two fares instead of one. Or again, a passenger gets on the elevated at the 69th Street Terminal, gets off at Second Street, where he takes a car "5" or "25," to, let us say, Snyder Avenue. The passenger must pay another fare on this car, the two fares amounting to fourteen cents. But let our passenger retrace his steps, and get on a northbound "5" or "25" car, asking for a three-cent "exchange ticket." This ticket will be good on the elevated train, taking him back to the 69th Street Terminal for ten cents, which he had to pay fourteen cents to get out from. Or let a passenger from Market Street to any point in West Philadelphia, let us say the West Philadelphia railroad station, get an exchange ticket which will be good at 11th Street on a northbound "23" car, where he is entitled to re-transfer to City Line. This transfer also entitles him to take an Allegheny Avenue car in either direction. But let the passenger retrace the route; from Allegheny Avenue a transfer is available to the "23" car, but no transfer is issued on that, necessitating two fares (fourteen cents) in place of the original ten cents. However, despite these exceptions, the reversibility rule holds quite generally.

          A slight complication arises where the return route is slightly different from the original route, as is the case in the business district of Philadelphia. But, even in such a case, the general principle applies. There are some instances though, where this reversibility principle would be difficult to apply. Suppose the routes in the two directions differ very widely, such as with the Fairmount Park Transit line in Philadelphia (where the transfer system is such that the fare between any two points is the same in both directions, though the routes in the two directions are several miles apart) or the Niagara Gorge Belt line, where the northbound cars run in Canada, and the southbound cars in the United States. In this case, however, there are on each side of the border, cars of other lines making the reverse trips along the same route, which will have to be considered the reverse of the Belt line. The principle, however, in this case, does not apply as between a point on the Canadian side and a point on the United States side.

          13. Reversibility of Transfers.  In many of the illustrations given under the reversibility of fares, the fare considered had to take into account a transfer issued between one car and another. Now in such a case, if, as almost always happens, the fare is reversible, it follows that in the absence of some other provision for making the fare equal both ways, there will be a corresponding transfer privilege on the reverse route. The same will be true of repeat transfer privileges given on a certain route. There are, of course, exceptions to this, not merely in the rare cases of irreversible fares, but in cases where other provisions for equalization of fare are made. Thus, in the case of a continuation transfer from a "short line" car to a car going through to the final destination, the passenger on a return trip boards a through car taking him back to the original starting point, and therefore needs no transfer. Likewise, the return transfer may be made by a prepayment station device, as is the case in certain places in Boston, Mass. But, outside of such cases, we may say that for every transfer there will be a reverse transfer, which may or may not be covered by the same transfer form. In fact, any particular transfer form will usually permit transfer to so many different routes as to require a number of reverse transfers, which, again, may be on the same form or may require one or more reverse transfer forms. As any transferral is from an issuing route, at a transfer point, to a receiving route, we may say that the reverse transfer will be from the receiving route in the opposite direction and bound towards the transfer point, at the same transfer point (generally speaking), and to the original issuing route in the reverse direction. For example, if I can get a transfer in Los Angeles for ten cents from an eastbound "R" car of the Los Angeles Railway, transferring at Sixth Street and Vermont Avenue to a northbound Route 3 bus of the Los Angeles Motor Bus Company to Hollywood, it equally follows that, if fares are reversible, as we can generally assume they are, that I can get on a southbound Route 3 bus of the Los Angeles Motor Bus Company in Hollywood and get a ten-cent transfer good at Sixth Street and Vermont Avenue on a westbound "R" car of the Los Angeles Railway.

        In the case of "repeat" transfers the same rule applies, the various routes being taken in reverse order and in the reverse direction. And incidentally it follows that, with a repeat transfer privilege, there is always a direct transfer between any two successive routes of the "repeat" set. However, we will take this up later.

        In the case of other special forms of the transfer privilege, each case can be taken up by itself and the reversibility of fare principle applied directly to indicate what further transfer privileges, if any, are to be found in the system in question.

        14. Reversibility as Aid in Collection. The principle of reversibility of fares and transfers, as discussed above, is one of the greatest aids to a would-be collector in getting different varieties of transfer forms on any one system, and, where there are inter-company transfers, sometimes on several systems at once. This being such an important aid in indicating where a collector should look for new transfer forms, we may go into detail on this matter.

        In the first place, if a sample transfer form is obtained for any system, the collector should note from and to what lines and at what transfer points this particular form applies, and see what the reverse of each would be. A list of all these reverse transfers which are not covered by that transfer form, or by some other form which the collector already has should be made; also a list of transfers he can ask for directly, since, in each case, he knows what car to get on for the transfer, and to where he should seek a transfer. Or a ride might be taken in a car for a certain distance, the collector observing at what points passengers get on and present transfers which are accepted for fare; this will indicate what transfers to ask for on the return trip. In this last process, however, one has to be more careful, since the existence of an overlap transfer point might interfere slightly. Also irreversible or partly irreversible transfers may occur.

        To illustrate how this can help, we will cite a few cases. The collector, let us say, arrives in New York City and takes a ride in a "green car" down Broadway. He may know from the guides or otherwise that "green cars" also run on 14th Street, and takes a chance asking for a transfer to West 14th Street. He gets a two-cent transfer marked as issued from Broadway―7th Avenue Line South," and the right-hand coupon lists the transfer as good on 8th Street, 14th Street, 23rd Street, or 34th Street east or west, or on Spring and Delancey east. By in turn boarding cars east and west at 14th Street and at 23rd Street bound for Broadway, and asking for a transfer north on Broadway (the reverse of the original ride), we get four more transfer forms; on Spring and Delancey west, still another form is obtained which, on examination, turns out to be issued from that line in either direction. Similarly if we start out from a 34th Street car. Thus we get a total of seven transfer forms from that system. We can get two more from the 8th Street line by the same process, and, if we get on a westbound 8th Street car coming from East 10th Street, we will get another, thus bringing up the total number of forms to ten. We may further note that the 14th Street forms give transfer to 6th Avenue, 7th Avenue, or Lexington Avenue north or south, and to Broadway south as well as north. The reverse of these give us seven more transfer forms; so that, after obtaining these, we have a total of seventeen. But this is not all. The Lexington Avenue forms indicate a transfer to 116th Street, and if we ask for a transfer to Lexington Avenue from a 116th Street car, we get, not a two-cent transfer, but a free transfer. Concluding that the reverse is also a free transfer, we try again to get transfers to 116th Street from Lexington Avenue cars bound north and south, and thus get two more free transfer forms. We now have twenty "green car" transfer forms, all obtained from the original one form by this reversibility principle. But again we may note that the repeat privilege on these two-cent transfers calls for a transfer from 116th Street to the Columbus-Lenox line; this turns out to be a two-cent transfer, good on the Columbus-Lenox line north or south. Trying this line both north and south and asking for transfer to 116 Street, we get two more two-cent transfer forms, thus bringing our total up to twenty-three, including twenty two-cent forms, or all the two-cent forms issued by that company. If a northbound Columbus Avenue car is taken at the most convenient point, the beginning of the line, we notice that many passengers pay fare in transfers, which could be either from the red cars on Broadway, or from the green Ninth Avenue cars. Presuming the latter, we try that and get a transfer form of the Ninth Avenue Company. One of the punch spaces reads "6th Ave. R. R." and taking the Sixth A venue cars both north and south, we get two more free transfer forms. Also the fact that a northbound Ninth Avenue car transfers to a northbound Columbus Avenue car means that, by reversibility, a southbound Columbus Avenue car will give free transfer to the south and Ninth Avenue cars, resulting in still another free transfer. So we have now obtained twenty-seven forms. But we may notice that the eastbound 23rd Street transfer form has the notation on the center coupon: "To 2nd Ave. line N. at 34th St. from E. 34th St. Ferry Branch cars only with coupons attached." To get the return transfer, we get on a southbound car on Second Avenue and get a transfer to 23rd Street west; there being two car lines on Second Avenue, we get two transfer forms, this time from another system, and free transfers, not two-cent ones. Noting that these give transfer privilege to the 86th Street cars of the Second Avenue Railroad, we can get still another form as the reverse of that privilege. We now have thirty transfer forms, all distinct. But we may notice that our Second Avenue forms were free but at the reverse transfers were not free. So, taking a 23rd Street eastbound car again bound for the East 34th Street Ferry. We get this time a free transfer to Second Avenue, noting that it also covers a transfer to Fourth Avenue south, with a privilege of retransfer to 14th Street east. So we may look for transfers from Fourth Avenue south to 14th Street east, and, conversely, from 14th Street west to Fourth Avenue north, and again from there to 23rd Street west. We can get these provided we get on the car at or after the proper transfer point indicated by the retransfer. But these transfers indicate retransfer privileges through 23rd Street west to Broadway north, and again to 34th Street west. So we can look for transfers from 23rd Street west to Broadway north, and again from there to 34th Street west, and, by reversing, from 34th Street east to Broadway south, and from there to 23rd Street east. Such forms can be obtained, again provided we do not get on the car before the previous transfer junction of the series. Then, noting that the Fourth Avenue transfer forms give transfer to 34th Street east and to 86th Street, we can get a reverse form for both. In this way, starting with one sample transfer form on which the collector took a chance, the fare reversibility principle finally leads us to obtain no less than forty distinct transfer forms on two different systems (or four systems, if we count the Ninth Avenue Railroad and the New York and Harlem traction lines as separate systems).

        On the Public Service Railway in New Jersey, a collector getting a single one-cent transfer anywhere in the system (collecting before October 1, 1923) could, by the same plan, manage to collect no less than one hundred and ten distinct transfer forms between New York and Philadelphia.

         Or take a case where the points where the transfer is good are described in more general terms. Let us say that we are collecting transfers from the "yellow cars" in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Railway), and we run across a red transfer from the "M" line (Grand and Moneta, in trip). The attached coupon says, "This coupon will be accepted at a direct transfer point or at such walkover points as are shown on back." Here, we must take all intersecting lines and list them, as well as the listed walkovers, avoiding the exceptions listed. This can be ascertained by a ride on the car line, or by consulting a city map and guide. One of the listed walkovers, for instance, is: West at Eleventh and Broadway on line L only." So that we may expect that an "L" car west towards the corner named will give transfer to the "M" line in the other direction, that is, southwards. In this way no less than thirty-eight, transfer forms can be obtained, including the "shuttle." Since most of these forms are also good on the "M" line in both directions, the next step is to get an "M" transfer from a car running the other direction to any other of the lines of the system. This can be obtained, and we have thirty-nine forms after securing just one original sample.

         This system of listing the reverses of all transfers obtained as a way to indicate what new transfers to look for, is probably about the best plan a collector could adopt. As transfers on this list are obtained, they can readily be erased (if ink is used, the erasure should be made with ink eradicator) while new reverse transfers can be added in. This can also be done if for any other reason any transfers on the list are found to be unavailable, as, for instance, in cases of irreversible fare, or change of route or transfer privileges.

        Thus, in the New York illustration, the collector, on obtaining the first sample transfer, may list under the boding "N. Y. Rys." the following entry: "To Bway-7 Ave. line N. from: Spring & Delancey W., 14 St. E. or 23 St. E. or W., 34 St. E. or W.; 116 St. E. or W. to Lex. Ave. S.; Col.-Lenox Ave. S. to 116 St." As these transfers are obtained, they are expunged from the record, and new hints of the sort added as they appear. In this way the collector's search for new transfer forms is considerably aided.



* Philadelphia fares described here were raised one cent on [Sunday,] October 5, 1924; but the principle holds.


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