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Notes on the Collection of Transfers

W. J. Sidis




        3. Transfer Privileges in GeneralIn most American cities, the practice is that when two lines of the same company intersect, a transfer is granted allowing a passenger on one line to continue for the same fare or, in some cases, for a small extra transfer fee, on the other line. This is, of course, provided the two lines are in the same fare zone, and also provided the second line does not take the passenger back, at least within the fare zone, to where the original car came from or to the same vicinity. In such cases transfers are granted under the same conditions where the two lines run together for a distance at some point after the place where the passenger gets on, and then diverge. Thus the transfer is usually required to be used at the point of divergence, though some companies require it to be used at the first common point of the two lines. A transfer privilege of that sort is the most ordinary, and is becoming known as the "universal transfer" privilege.

        We may speak of the restricted transfer privilege where there are any particularly notable exceptions to the universality of the transfer privilege on a system, or where it follows rules more restricted than the universal transfer. For example, in Philadelphia the universal transfer can hardly be said to be in force, though there are some fairly general rules which the transfer privileges broadly follow. For instance, as a general rule, where the transfer point is within the central part of the city, an "exchange ticket" or three-cent transfer is required, while if the transfer point is farther out, a free transfer is the general rule. Likewise, the total fare for a bus ride plus a car or elevated ride, is 14 cents cash; and the elevated transfers to surface lines only outside the business district. This is a fair sample of the restricted transfer privilege. This sort is usually treated as a variant of either the universal or the special transfer privilege. Finally, we have the special transfer privilege, where transfers are confined to certain special lines and transfer points. which may have been picked out arbitrarily. An example of this is the Brooklyn City Railroad, in the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens of New York City. The Nostrand Avenue car line in Brooklyn, for instance, intersects ten car lines of the same company, yet transfers to only six of these, though the topography indicates no special reasons for the distinctions drawn, nor for the special restrictions on the transfers to these various lines.

        Besides these forms, which are not actually definite classifications, but which shade into one another, there are many variations and combinations of the various kinds of transfer privileges mentioned, such as, for instance, a universal or restricted transfer privilege with special transfer privileges superimposed. Three particular kinds of variations we may note: the walkover transfer, the inter-company transfer, and the overlap transfer. The walk-over is the case where, in addition to the ordinary universal, restricted, or special transfer privilege as between intersecting car lines, there is also a similar privilege where two lines approach within a certain distance of each other; this is exemplified best by the Los Angeles Railway, which allows transfer between car lines where there is as much as three blocks "walkover" from one car to the other.

        As for the inter-company transfer, we may simply note that, as a general rule, transfers are only between vehicles operated by the same company; but it often happens that special arrangements are made for transfer from one company to another. Frequently these companies should be regarded as subdivisions of one system, as in the case of the two street car companies in Atlantic City, or the subsidiary companies of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation in New York. But, in other cases, there may be special arrangements as between companies which it is not convenient to regard as parts of the same system. Thus, the New York and Stamford Railway gives transfer at New  Rochelle to all cars of the Westchester Electric Railway, which is part of the Third Avenue Railway system of New York City; while at Stamford, it gives passengers boarding cars within the city limits, but not through passengers, the privilege of a four-cent transfer to all cars and buses of the Connecticut Company. In the District of Columbia, the two main street car companies sell one-cent transfers to each other's cars on the restricted privilege.

        The "overlap transfer" can best be considered under the heading of fare limits. It is in force where fare limits overlap, when there is a transfer point in the overlapping part. The overlap transfer usually takes the form of the establishment of an inner and an outer fare limit around the transfer points, the transfer privilege extending from the inner fare zone on one line to the outer fare zone on the other, and vice versa, A variation is where transfer fare limits are narrower than ordinary fare limits, either on the issuing or receiving line or both.

        We may also mention the continuation privilege, which is ordinarily, especially under the universal transfer arrangement, part of the regular transfer privilege, but may sometimes require distinction. This is a transfer enabling a passenger to continue for the same fare along the same route, where cars must be changed; or, sometimes, between a main line and a branch line.

        In some cities the transfer privilege has been altogether suspended. This was the case in Bridgeport, Conn., in 1922, and has been the case since October 1, 1923 in those cities in New Jersey where a five-cent fare was established at that time, including Jersey City, Bayonne, Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Elizabeth, and Camden. This is also the case in many of the cities served by the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway system, such as Lawrence, Lynn, and Salem.

         4. The Universal Transfer Privilege. This is the commonest form of all. Usually it implies a free transfer, that is, the carfare itself covers the transfer privilege. If, however, transfers are "sold," or an extra price over and above carfare charged for them, there is usually a restricted or special arrangement for free transfers super-added, usually including the continuation privilege. This is the case with the Public Service Railway in New Jersey. Before October 1, 1923, transfer privilege was universal, and an extra cent was charged for transfer; but free transfers were given under the continuation privilege. On that date, the transfer privilege was abolished in certain zones where a five-cent fare was established, leaving the universal transfer privilege as above outlined unaltered elsewhere (e.g., New Brunswick, Plainfield, Edgewater). On July, 1924, the transfer privileges were still further abridged, not affecting certain places. In other cases, such as the New York Railways on Manhattan Island (New York City) the exceptions where a free transfer is granted are rather arbitrary, although still following fairly definite principles; while in other cases the extra price for a transfer is absolutely universal, as in Trenton, N. J., with the Trenton and Mercer County Traction Corporation.

         What the universal transfer privilege includes is a transfer privilege from any car line to any other car line in the same zone intersecting it or continuing it. Where a transfer point is at a zone limit, there is usually some special regulation covering that matter. Where two lines run together a certain distance and then diverge, transfer can be made between the cars of these two lines, but it is not always agreed where the transfer point should be when both cars run over the common part in the same direction; that is, the proper transfer point may be at the beginning or at the end of the common part of the routes, or at some intermediate point, according to the particular regulations of the system. The Los Angeles Railway gives the passenger the choice of either the beginning or the end of the common part of the route. But usually the transfer point is the divergence point. However, in many cases arbitrary transfer points are specified. Thus, on the New York and Queens County system between the separation of part of its lines on May 10, 1922, and the alteration of routes on May 15, 1923, the Flushing line and the Jamaica line ran over the same route for several miles, and yet transfer between them was at an intermediate "Flushing Bridge," the only transfer point established by the company in that entire stretch of track. We may note in such a case that passengers boarding cars in that common part cannot generally get transferred from one of those two lines to the other.

        The universal transfer privilege excludes transfers to cars going back in the direction the passenger initially came from. Exceptions to transfer rights, in the case of a true universal transfer privilege, come under this heading, where both lines are in the same fare zone. The exact interpretation of this, however, depends in large part on the company regulations.

         5. The Special Transfer Privilege. Occasionally it happens that transfers are given only at special points and in special directions on some systems. This is the case, for instance, in Brooklyn, N. Y., on the Brooklyn City Railroad and on the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit System excluding the central fare zone of the three main subsidiary companies. These systems probably form the largest and most important examples of a special transfer privilege, though a proper description of the transfer arrangements on those systems would be altogether too long, and could only be made by listing all the transfer points and what transfers are given from each. There is, on both these systems, a universal continuation privilege where cars do not run the full length of the line within the fare lone. Agents stationed at the last, stop of the car hand transfers to passengers coming off the car, such "agent's tickets" being good on cars continuing the trip. But, as an example of how arbitrary this special transfer privilege can be, we may state, for instance, that a Fulton Street car coming from the Brooklyn Bridge gives transfer to southbound Nostrand Avenue cars, which are, however, not good on Lorimer Street cars, though both lines run on the same street and are operated by the same company. The Nostrand Avenue line crosses other car lines of the Brooklyn City Railroad parallel to the Fulton Street line, and in the same way, but does not transfer to them. No description would be adequate, therefore, except a complete listing of every variety of transfer given, with its exact privileges.

        Sometimes a special transfer privilege of some particular kind is superimposed on another transfer privilege. Thus, in the case of the New York Railways system, we have what might be considered a universal transfer privilege on the main part of the system, transfers being sold for two cents. Superimposed on this is a special free transfer privilege, which is given only in a few cases.

        Thus transfers issued to be used at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 116th Street are free transfers; a few cases of inter-company transfers on that line are free transfers; a car from West 34th Street gives free transfer to downtown Broadway cars; and there are a few other sporadic cases.

         6. The Restricted Transfer Privilege. This includes, in general, all intermediate cases between the universal and special. It scarcely needs any particular attention, as it includes a variety of forms that can only be separately considered. The instance of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit system is about as good a one as can be adduced. A restricted privilege may be superimposed on a universal one, or may (as in the case of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system) have a special privilege superimposed on it. The restricted transfer privilege will also include cases where, instead of transfers properly so called, there are special varieties of coupons issued, as in the case of the Hudson and Manhattan tubes connecting Manhattan Island with the New Jersey suburbs. The rules in this case are as follows: (1) Passengers entering at Newark or Harrison, N. J., or at a northbound station in New York of the 6th Avenue tube, are entitled on collection of fare to an "exit coupon" which is good in place of the four-cent exit fare collection on leaving northbound New York stations of the 6th Avenue tube; (2) Passengers including in Jersey City or Hoboken can get from the gateman on payment of the regular six-cent fare, a refund coupon which entitles them to a one-cent refund on leaving the tubes at any other station in those two cities within 30 minutes; (3) Southbound passengers leaving at a New York station of the 6th Avenue tube can get from the gateman at the exit a refund coupon which entitles them to a five-cent refund at the change booth at the same exit.

        The peculiar characteristic of restricted transfer privileges is the existence of such regular general rules governing their use. A curious restriction is found in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where transfer privileges, otherwise universal, are suspended on certain holidays. On some systems there are no transfers at certain hours of the night ("owl" hours).

         7. Central Districts. In some cases, as in Buffalo, N. Y., and in Houston, Texas (pre-war arrangement), there is a fairly well-defined central district where most, if not all, car lines go, and where transfer privileges are wider than elsewhere, usually in the way of allowing walk-overs if necessary, or of allowing all transfers to be presented at any point in the central district. In Cleveland, all but the so-called "crosstown" cars go either to Public Square or to the loop a block south-of it, and walk-over is allowed from one to the other. In some cases this central district appears in the form of a fixed central transfer point, as in Flushing, N. Y.

         8. Continuation Privileges. A continuation transfer privilege is one enabling the passenger to continue for the same fare along the same line where a car line stops too soon, or is diverted, or where the car runs off on another branch, or, conversely, from a branch line to the main line of which it is a branch. In the case of an ordinary universal transfer privilege, there is, of course, no reason for distinguishing this from the regular transfer privilege; but there are plenty of cases where this form of privilege needs to be distinguished from ordinary transfers. In the first place, we may include under the continuation privilege the emergency transfer, issued when some controlling emergency arises, and which cannot be included under any regular heading, partly because transfer points and directions cannot conform to the regular rules. Most systems have some provision for such a case, usually by a special punch on the regular transfer form, "preliminary" and the "feeder" forms of transfer. One is from a preliminary, or shuttle, or branch line, to a main line; this usually gives the passenger presenting the transfer on the main line the same privilege as a passenger paying cash fare. In the case of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system, such a transfer plus two cents entitles the passengers to a regular two-cent cash transfer. On the other hand, transfers of this class are, generally speaking, issued only in exchange for cash fare or the equivalent (not for transfers). But the other class of continuation transfers, which we may call the "feeder" transfer, is from a "short line" car to a through car (in some companies only), or to a shuttle, continuation, or branch line from a main line. It is issued irrespective of what kind of fare is paid, and sometimes (as in the case of the Brooklyn "agents' tickets") even after the passenger is off the car; but it entitles the passenger to no further transfer privileges, as a general rule. In the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system and the Brooklyn City Railroad, careful distinction is made between these two kinds of transfer, while, in other systems, such as the Philadelphia Rapid Transit system or the Los Angeles Railway (1921 issue), the same form of transfer differently punched is used for both kinds of privilege. Sometimes the continuation privilege is the only one on the system; and, though usually universal, may also be special or restricted.


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