Revival of Passenger Traffic on Railroads
American railway operators are confident that the growth of rail travel in 1937 will reverse the 16-year trend of declining passenger revenues in proportion to total railway revenues. Ever since 1920, the peak year for passenger travel, the annual revenues from passenger traffic have represented a steadily diminishing proportion of total revenues. While the number of passengers carried rose slowly after 1933, the total in 1936 was less than 40 per cent of the number carried in 1920.
Three principal causes have been assigned for the downward trend in railway passenger traffic: Constantly increasing travel by private automobiles; travel by highway buses, at lower fares than the railroads offered; and long-continued indifference by railroad operators to the demand for greater speed, comfort, and convenience in passenger service.
Three principal reasons assigned for the recent upturn in passenger business are: New and faster trains, air-conditioned and much more comfortable; lower fares; and the congestion of traffic upon the public highways with accompanying accident hazards. Railroad men are reporting that since the inauguration of streamline, low-weight, high-speed trains many vacationists are expressing a preference for travel by rail. The railroads have had a splendid record of safety in the last few years, while highway injuries and fatalities have mounted steadily.