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Notes on the Collection of Transfers

W. J. Sidis




        15. Fare LimitsUnder the fare zone system, some form of which is almost an essential to a true transfer-issuing system of vehicles (we have used the term "cars" for convenience in referring to all forms of vehicles in this connection), a local fare is good from the starting point to a certain fare-limit beyond which (if the system continues) a new fare must be paid, good to another fare limit, and so on to the end of the line in either direction. This will divide off any route into zones, a single fare being collected within each zone, with the general rule that each zone traversed means one fare. To travel from one zone into the next is two fares, even though the ride be for a short distance across the fare limit point. Now a fare zone may include different lines or routes, when a single fare is charged for one ride within a certain district. It need not involve the idea of transfers at all. Since October 1, 1923, we can speak of the cities of Jersey City and Hoboken, N. J., as a fare zone; for, on any car running entirely within those two cities, only one five-cent fare was charged; and yet no transfer privileges whatever were granted.

        Generally speaking, the limit to which a local fare is good is the same whether that fare be cash or transfer. This, however, is not always the case, and we sometimes have transfer fare limits shorter than those placed on cash fare. The usual way this happens is, that there is what we might call an inner and an outer fare limit, and transfers issued within the inner fare limit are good for the same distance as a cash fare; while transfers issued outside this inner fare limit on one car are only good to the inner fare limit on the other car. An arrangement like this is almost necessary to make the fares strictly reversible. It is found, for example, on the Long Island Electric Railway at Jamaica; on the Brooklyn City Railroad at Maspeth; and on the Eastern Massachusetts Street Rail at Lowell. This sort of arrangement, however, is allied to the overlap fare zones, which we will take up shortly. There are other cases: for instance, where, on a certain line, transfer limits are shorter than cash fare limits; and, on the reverse trip, transfers are issued only after the transfer fare limit is passed. The N. Y. & Stamford Railway at Stamford is an example of such a situation.

         This calls attention to the fact that we must distinguish between two kinds of fare limits, the initial and the final. On the reverse trip the initial and final limit exactly exchange places usually the final limit of one fare zone will also mark the initial limit of the next; but there are cases where the initial limit of a second fare zone is reached before the final limit of the first. In such a case we have overlapping fare zones, a situation which, on account of the complications in transfer forms, we will later take up separately.

        In the case of a transfer, the initial fare limit is on the issuing car, and represents the point previous to reaching which no transfer of the particular sort is issued. The final fare limit is on the receiving car, and represents the last point to which the transfer is good for fare. Here again, when the reverse trip is taken, the original initial limit should be the new final limit, and vice versa, But here, unfortunately, a mix-up frequently occurs. It is easy enough to regulate the points at which transfers are issued. The passenger that boards the car before the initial transfer fare limit is reached does not get the transfer in question. But it is not so simple to keep check on how far the passenger rides within the fare limit. Because of this it sometimes happens that transfers are issued with initial fare limits, but none with special final fare limits. Such a system does not give reversible fare, and in many cases it will happen that fare one way between two points is quite different from fare the other way. We have already shown how this works in the case of the New York Railways system. Some other systems do the same thing by providing a special space to be punched on the transfer if the transfer was issued on certain part of the route, thereby granting or withholding additional transfer privileges. This, again, checks up effectively on initial but not on final fare limits, with the result that we again have cases where fares are not exactly reversible. This is exemplified in the case of the Public Service Railway in New Jersey (particularly in many forms in use in 1922), and the Kansas City Railways.

        It frequently happens that the initial limit of a fare zone arrives before the final limit of the preceding fare zone. In such a case we have a portion of the route where the two fare zones overlap, and, in this overlapping portion, only a single fare is charged to points in either fare zone. Now it is obvious that this must complicate the problem of fare collection, since, while the car is passing through the overlap portion of the route, some passengers (those who boarded before the overlap portion was reached) belong to the preceding fare zone, while other passengers (those who boarded within the overlap portion belong to the following fare zone. It is difficult to distinguish these two classes of passengers without some artificial aid, though that is sometimes done. Fare collection may conceivably be made at the beginning of the overlap; but then passengers from the preceding fare zone would have to be able to produce some sort of receipt showing where they got on, in order that they may ride through the overlap for the same fare. But this would require that all passengers in the first fare zone receive these receipts, besides introducing the difficulty of watching final fare limits. Hence the general practice is to collect new fares from all passengers as soon as the overlap is passed. In this case, passengers who boarded the car within the overlap may, in some cases, wait until the overlap is passed before paying fare, where the overlap portion of the route is so short that passengers are not likely to require a ride within the overlap alone. Or a passenger boarding and paying fare within the overlap may get a receipt or identification check which will transfer him into the next fare lone. Such an overlap fare receipt may be considered as a transfer for collection purposes, and one obvious way to obtain it is to take a  ride on a car, getting on and off within the overlap portion of the route. The reverse of such an overlap receipt is the receipt to be obtained on the same overlap running in the opposite direction.

        Sometimes it happens that more than two fare zones overlap at a certain place. For instance, besides the two fare zones that overlap, there may be an arrangement providing single fare (which need not be the same as the fare in the regular zones) between points in one zone and points in the next. Or there may be a special lower rate of fare within the overlap; or a special higher rate of fare covering a regular fare zone with the overlaps at both ends. This last is well exemplified by the eleven-cent fare charged in a certain part of the "Union" line of the Public Service Railway of New Jersey up until July, 1924, covering two overlaps with a fare-zone between. The regular fare in that fare zone and in the neighboring zones is eight cents. Of course, where more than two fare zones overlap at the same place, the necessary receipt system is slightly complicated.

        16. Overlap Receipts as Transfers. We have seen how the overlapping of fare zones usually requires the issuance of receipt forms closely allied to transfers, and which may, from the collector's point of view, be considered as such. Such receipts are usually called fare receipts or identification checks. Probably the largest variety of overlap fare receipt forms was issued by the Public Service Railway of New Jersey under the name of "identification slips." These are used strictly as overlap fare receipts, and must be used on the same car and trip.

        But this is not always the case. Let us take, for example, the fare receipt given on the "Subway" car line in Yonkers, N. Y., in which two fares are charged from the main part of Yonkers to the New York subway terminal, the two zones overlapping from the New York-Yonkers city line to the corner of McLean Avenue and Broadway. On northbound cars, the latter is where the second fares are collected; but a passenger getting on at the city line, or at any other point within the overlap, receives a fare receipt which has the effect of an overlap fare receipt, and is good for fare in the Yonkers fare zone on the same car or on eastbound McLean Avenue cars. Now it may be observed that, in the latter use, it is a true transfer, properly so called, as being used between one car line and another.

        In the Yonkers instance, though, there is the peculiarity that the transfer point is one limit of the overlap zone. But an intermediate point may also be a transfer point. This is the case with the overlapping of the main Queensborough and the main Brooklyn zones of the Brooklyn City Railroad, the overlapping district covering a considerable area in the Queens side of the Brooklyn-Queensborough line. Through cars issuing the customary overlap fare receipts to passengers boarding within this overlap, collect these receipts when the overlap limit is passed and the second fare zone is finally entered. Now the Maspeth car house, which is a transfer point, is situated within this overlap district; and these fare receipts are used at that point as transfers from car to car, so that a passenger boarding any car within the overlap may get an overlap fare receipt, change to another line at Maspeth, and have his fare receipt taken up for a through fare on the second car precisely as if the second car had originally issued it. Thus, if we consider the overlap limit as an inner fare limit (taking Maspeth as the center), and similarly considering the ends of the respective lines (where they run beyond the overlap) as an outer fare limit, these fare receipts become valid as transfers from the inner fare limit on one line to the outer fare limit on another line. The reverse of these transfer privileges would be a transfer from the outer limit on the issuing line to the inner limit on the receiving line; hence such transfers are also issued, and are also in the nature of overlap fare receipts, but are for passengers riding into an overlap district instead of out of it. This is not a usual form of overlap fare receipt when no change of cars is involved, but, where change of car is needed, it becomes necessary to use such receipts as transfers. The cases above instanced show how overlap fare receipts may also function as regular transfers, but with the added feature that there is always some limitation about either initial or final tare limits.

        17. Effect of Overlap of Transfer PrivilegesThe normal effect of overlapping fare zones on transfer privileges is to create an inner and an outer fare zone around a transfer point situated within the overlap zone, the inner lone representing the overlap itself in such a case, transfers are issued from the inner zone on one line to the outer zone on the other, and vice versa. A similar thing would happen, though in a less symmetrical fashion, when the transfer point is at the end of an overlap; a good instance of this is the transfer privileges given at Carlstadt, N. J., on the Public Service Railway, although in that instance the transfer point is not quite at the overlap limit on either of the transferring lines, though the effect is the same.

        A slightly different situation arises where there is no real overlap, but a branch line belongs to both fare zones, tile fare limit being at the transfer point. Here the only overlap is on the branch line. The branch line may continue beyond the transfer point, where it may belong to only one of the two fare zones. Thus, at Palisades Junction, Fort Lee, N. J., there are two tracks crossing, one north and south, with a fare limit at the Junction (Palisade Line), the other east and west, with no fare limit at that point (Englewood and Hudson River Lines). The latter route belongs to the northern fare zone west of the Junction; east of the Junction it runs for a comparatively short distance where it belongs to both fare zones. Therefore the branch line east of the Junction is, in effect, an overlap, and gives transfer to and accepts transfer from the Palisade Line cars running in either direction. But a car coming from west of the Junction will give transfer only to northbound Palisade Line cars.

        Or there may be, within the transfer system, a provision for lower fares within the overlap, especially if transfers are otherwise sold. Thus, at Port Chester, N. Y., the village limits constitute an overlap area for the fare zone to the west in Rye, N. Y., and the zone to the east in Greenwich, Conn. There are local lines within the village. Transfer from one line to another within the village is free; on the standard overlap plan to points outside the village in either of the fare zones, if a change of cars is necessary, a three-cent transfer is required.

        Where the overlap occurs in a slightly different way from the ordinary, or where more than two zones overlap at the same place, the effect on the transfer system is necessarily more complex. We may note, however, that the California double-zone rate practically has the same effect as the Port Chester overlap mentioned above, with slight additional complications. We may also note another case as a possibility; namely, that although there may be separate fare zones, an extraneous zone may be arranged so as to overlap both. Now if separate cars are operated in each zone, the result will be a transfer with limited initial and final limits, good only in a special instance. This result actually occurs at Asbury Park, N. J.

        Sometimes the existence of an overlap zone area may even have the effect of suspending transfer privileges at points in that area, or of limiting transfers to rides entirely within the overlap.

        18. The Overlap Transfer PrivilegeWe now come to consider cases where there is no actual overlapping of fare zones, but where the transfer system is so arranged as to give the effect of such. The most usual form is the arrangement of inner and outer fare limits, where transfers issued from the outer fare limits are good on the receiving line only to the inner limits; but transfers issued to passengers boarding within the inner fare limits are good on the receiving line to the outer fare limits. An ordinary exception to this would be where there were just these two sets of limits in the system, and the transfer point is in the outer limit, as well as the receiving line; then the transfer would be valid within the outer limits. In such a case, if the receiving line passed through the inner limits, it would usually be good through those limits, but not beyond.

        In such a case, there would be two kinds of transfer privileges for passengers on any line; one kind with a short fare limit from the transfer point out, and the other kind with the full fare limit, the same as is required for cash passengers. Some arrangement will have to be made to provide some manner of distinguishing these. When we consider transfer forms, we shall take this up more in detail; meanwhile, we may state that there are three principal ways of accomplishing it: by punching the fare limit on the transfer (as is the case in White Plains, N. Y.); by using separate forms for the two types of fare limits (as, for example, in the Maspeth overlap or in Pittsburgh); or, as a compromise between these two methods, by successive attached coupons of which the number left on indicates the fare limit (the device used on the Long Island Electric system, and on the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway). The latter arrangement will be more particularly considered as the Long Island type route coupon.

        There are other cases of what we may call the overlap transfer privilege. For instance, there is the Asbury Park type, where both the initial and final fare limits are shorter for transfer than for cash passengers. But more commonly on a special line there is a short transfer fare limit, both for incoming and outgoing passengers. This is the case on the New Rochelle-Larchmont line at Stamford, Conn.; on the Elizabeth line at Springfield, N. J.; or on the "Southwestern Route" at Essington, Pa.

        There are many other detailed devices restricting the fare limits which may be considered as variations of the overlap privilege; although in some cases fare limits are restricted merely because doing otherwise would be allowing a round trip for one fare. Such cases must be carefully distinguished. For example, a passenger, westbound on the Cambridge Subway from Boston to Cambridge, may, on leaving the subway at the Harvard station, get a transfer good on Lechmere Square cars up to a certain limit. If it was good for a through ride, the passenger could easily return to his starting point for a single fare. There is no trace of an overlap arrangement about this.


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