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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Buses Topics:  William P. Killeen, Washington Rapid Transit Company


Washington Times-Herald
December 31, 1922

Killeen Disputes Claim of Local Traction Officials.

"The statement by officials of the local street railway systems that the busses operated by the Washington Rapid Transit Company have made great inroads upon the revenue of the local street car lines may well be taken with a grain of salt," says William P. Killeen, vice president and general manager of the green bus line.

"This assertion is but another cry of 'unfair competition,'" continues Mr. Killeen, "and while we are very glad to admit that we are carrying thousands of Washingtonians who are better served by the motor bus than by the street car and who are demanding more bus routes, we do not accept the responsibility for a very great falling off of street car earnings.

"Just a little analysis of the local situation as to public carriers will show many reasons other than furnished by traction officials contribute to the lessening of steet car earnings.

"During the past eighteen months at least one hundred and fifty new taxicabs have been placed in service, greatly augmenting the very efficient cab service furnished by local companies and making it very much easier to secure a taxicab when taxi service is desired.

"Street car patrons become automobile owners and their patronage is lost by traction systems—the great number of automobiles parked about any building operation is decisive proof that thousands of men who once rode to and from their day's work over traction lines now own their own automobiles and their patronage is lost by the street railways.

"The figures showing automobile registrations for this year, as compared to the previous twelve months, will be available very soon, and I would suggest that the officials of the local traction companies study them—the great increase in the number of privately owned cars may account for a material part of their losses.

"The fact that a very progressive American buys an automobile as soon as possible is established, and we may safely say that the purchase of a single automobile means a loss of at least three street car patrons—traction officials may consider this a fact.

"I am unable to account for the reason for the statement by the street railways that their losses are due to motor bus transition to any alarming degree, unless this statement is but the oft-repeated complaint that the service furnished by the busses of the Washington Rapid Transit Company, indorsed by the Washington public, is 'unfair competition.'"

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