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Traffic and Transportation

Opinion of New Jersey Commission Regarding Height of Car Step

Article reprinted from the NOVEMBER 8, 1913. "ELECTRIC RAILWAY JOURNAL" 1037

Brief reference was made in the ELECTRIC RAILWAY JOURNAL of Nov. 1 to the order of the Board of Public Utility Commissioners of New Jersey to the effect that "no new cars for the transportation of passengers on the lines operated by the Public Service Railway shall be placed in service and operated by said company with an initial step exceeding 15 in. in height and a second step exceeding 14 in. in height." The opinion on which the order is based was concluded in part as follows:

"The whole question practically resolves itself into a matter of the feasibility and cost of reducing the height of car steps upon the respondent's equipment.

"The evidence before us suffices to show that a reduction in the height of car steps by means of the substitution of maximum traction trucks is not practicable.

"We accept respondent's contention that the four-motor equipment is best contrived to negotiate at proper speed the grades upon respondent's lines. We accept the evidence before us tendered to show that an additional step for entrance upon or exit from respondent's cars would not be desirable.

"Petitioner's witness, Clifton W. Wilder, agrees with the respondent that more than three steps or stages are a nuisance. A third step would lessen the standing room on the platform, would involve another distinct movement on the part of the passenger, would probably dangerously lessen the area of the treads and would impede rapidity of loading and unloading.

"We are not satisfied that a folding step would at present be feasible. Such a step could not, in certain places, protrude beyond the side of the car. It would have to be so devised as to divide the controlling distance of practically 41 in. and would consequently involve the same essential objections as attached to the third step mentioned above. We are satisfied from the evidence before us that a 33-in. wheel is required upon the respondent's ordinary four-motor truck equipment, and that the requisite clearance below and above the motor casing, together with the members of the car body and superstructure resting on the truck, make necessary a distance of not over 41 in. from the top of the running rail to the floor of the car. We are not satisfied that this distance of 41 in. is properly divided as at present by the company into steps of approximately 17 in., 14 in. and 10 in. when the car is newly constructed.

"On the other hand, we are satisfied by the testimony of the board's engineer, Winslow B. Ingham, and by the confirmation thereof of H. A. Benedict, the company's mechanical engineer, in charge of rolling stock and equipment, that it is practicable, without extra cost, when cars are in process of construction, to bend the knees supporting the platform so that the entire platform shall be lowered at least 2 in. from its present height, retain the present distance from the step to the platform, to wit 14 in., and reduce the height of the lower step to 15 in. from the head of rail when the cars are new.

"On the same testimony and confirmation thereof by H. A. Benedict we are satisfied that a 1-in. ramp, such as proposed by Mr. Ingham, running from the king bolt to the end of the car floor will provide satisfactorily, a practicable step not over 11 in. in height from the car platform to the floor of the car. This would make the second step not over 14 in. in height.

"Upon this plan of construction for the future, the evidence is so clear and is so completely corroborated by the respondent's witness, Mr. Benedict, that we have no hesitation in ordering that hereafter the company shall install and employ no new equipment with an initial step to exceed 15 in. in height.

"The need of issuing an order of this tenor forthwith without waiting further evidence desired by the board as to extant equipment is apparent. It will prevent the augmentation of equipment not properly designed to afford the maximum of comfort and rapidity in the work of loading and unloading.

"The board, therefore, finds and determines in view of the attested feasibility of designing cars with an initial step not higher than 15 in. from the running rail, when the car is new, that the Public Service Railway in putting into operation additional equipment with an initial step higher than 15 in. and a second step higher than 14 in., will fail to furnish safe, proper and adequate service; and, except as otherwise indicated, the board will require of the Public Service Railway in order to furnish safe, proper and adequate service and to keep and maintain its property and equipment used in passenger service in such condition as to enable it to do so, to operate hereafter new equipment used in passenger service only when such new equipment shall be provided with an initial step not in excess of 15 in. in height and a second step not in excess of 14 in. in height.

"Before making an order reducing the height of steps on extant equipment, the board feels the need of some additional evidence. First of all, it will require of the company to classify the 245 cars unlisted with reference to the height of the first step, so that the height of the first step on these 245 cars may be known. Second, it will require of the company, and it will seek to obtain from outside experts, additional evidence of the cost of reconstruction necessary to lower the height of the initial step of the existing equipment.

"If, as suggested by the company, but not specifically pointed out by it, there exists any exceptional case where an initial step higher than 15 in. is required because of territory traversed or peculiar conditions under which the cars are operated, an opportunity will be given the company in the supplementary hearing to adduce evidence on these matters."

The order of the New Jersey Board of Public Utility Commissioners discussed in the article reproduced at left clearly influenced the design of the compromise roof cars.

The 2600's required an initial step from the road surface of 14 in; 13-1/2 in. for the second step to the platform level, and a last step, from the platform to the car floor, of 10-1/2 in.

The interior slope from the king bolt to the platform end of the floor was 2-1/2 in.--- 1-1/2 in. more than the 1 in. ramp proposed by Winslow B. Ingham, but still was well within the 11 in. Iimit from the platform to the car floor.

Article reprinted permission of McGraw-Hill Co.

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