Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (May 2, 1909)
The power of a 5-cent piece in buying clothing,
food and other necessities has decreased at least 33 per
cent since 1898. The power of the same 5-cent piece
in buying transportation through Omaha and suburbs '
has increased 50 per cent in the same time.
In 1898 the longest local street railway ride that
could be purchased for 5 cents was eight miles. Now
the same coin will buy any one of several rides each
about twelve miles long. Furthermore the money
buys transportation in larger, roomier, safer, easier rid
ing, swifter and more comfortable cars.
Forty years ago 5 cents spent in car fare in Omaha
procured a ride of but one mile in a creeping horse
car, unheated, poorly lighted, cramped in space and
having a chronic habit of jumping the track.
In 1872 the nickel was good for a ride of two miles
in the same kind of a conveyance, the increased pur
chasing power being due to a reduction in the fare of
from 10 to 5 cents.
By 1888 the nickel was good
for a cable or horse car ride of three
miles, stoves having replaced hay
In 1898 the 5-cent ride was
good for a maximum of eight miles
in small electric cars run on 45
pound rails, the service being ex
cellent for the period.
In 1909 the nickel buys a maximum ride of twelve
miles in a smooth-running, 42-foot, hot-water heated,
air-brake car, traveling over heavy rails on a firmly
constructed roadbed and driven by energy distributed
from a 10,000 horsepower central power station.
In serving the community the Company ignores
the artificial lines of corporate limits and regards
Omaha, South Omaha, East Omaha, Florence, Benson,
Dundee and immediate territory as a single district to
be served impartially and without discrimination. The
nickel is good for a ride from any point in this terri
tory to any other point on the lines of the system. A
universal transfer system, which permits travel in the
the same general direction at any junction, enables
The territory described contains over 38 square
miles and about 170,000 people. There are approxi
mately only 4,473 persons to each square mile, mean
ing an extremely scattered population.
In Omaha and environs there are 112 miles of
track, giving the extremely high ratio of .659 mile of
track for each 1,000 of population.
Compared with other cities of the United States
the population per square mile of Omaha is very low
CARRYING POWER OF THE NICKEL
and the mileage of track per 1,000 of population is
The effect of these conditions upon street railway
operation causes low gross earnings per car mile. In
order to retain the 5-cent fare for the large number of
long rides, which are unprofitable, it is necessary to do
a heavy short-haul business. Beyond a certain limit,
(about five miles), no profit whatever is earned on the
passenger carried. He is hauled at a loss.
To Omahans it is almost unnecessary to call at
tention to the fact that one can, for 5 cents, ride from
the southern limits of South Omaha to Florence, East
Omaha, Benson or Dundee. These are the particularly
long rides, but there are many of from eight to ten
miles which are made daily with and without transfers.
Before the street railway bridge was constructed
the only means oft mechanical transportation between
Omaha and Council Bluffs was by steam train, or
"dummy," operated over the Union Pacific bridge. The
rate of farawas 25 cents each way,
or 50 cents for the round trip.
Streetrailway transportation at both
ends of the' 'rdu1mmy' line brought
the total round trip fare up to.
70 cents. ' ' ' '
The electric lines perform the
same service (round trip) for 20
cents cash fare, or 10 cents by use
of commutation books.
Before the electric line was built to Florence about
four years ago 'bus fare from Florence to Ames Ave.
was 10 cents and car fare to the Omaha business district
5 cents additional, bringing the total fare one way up
to 15 cents, or 30 cents for the round trip.
Dundee and Benson originally had independent
horse railways and for a time collected an additional
5-cent fare from passengers bound to and from
In closing this installment it may not be out of
place to remark that it has seemed curious to street
railway operators, who, after many profitless years have
succeeded in placing their property on a paying basis,
to witness attempts to reduce the rate of fare in a time
when street railway transportation is one of the few
things greater in quantity and better in quality offered
for the same unit of charge which prevailed ten and
fifteen years ago.
G. W. WATTLES, President,
Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company.
Next Sunday 8 Article Will Discuss the Improve, nents and Needs
of the Future.)
3 8 MILES.
3 12. MILES.
Powered by Open ONI