Akron Topics August 1931
T HE VOLUME of freight moving in and out of Akron by
motor truck and the number of units employed in hauling it have reached
astonishing figures; and they are still mounting. Dependable estimates place
the number of trucks leaving Akron for distant points daily at about 200.
Many other trucks are going out to such near-by points as Cleveland and
The whole in-and-out movement is estimated in the trade
at 300 to 350 trucks daily. Akron trucking concerns operating their own
fleets have about 400 units in service. There are as many more trucks
independently owned chiefly serving brokerage firms which contract for the
freight, then engage the truck owners. About 1,000 men are employed in this
This service, which formerly reached out to local
points with Pittsburgh and Detroit representing long hauls, has been
extended to take in Kansas City, St. Louis, Philadelphia and other distant
points east, west and south.
The tonnage moved runs high into the thousands every
month. With five tons as a conservative estimate for the average truck load,
the movement is shown to be far above a thousand tons of freight daily.
Of course, the outgoing trucks are often loaded with
tires for Detroit, for Chicago, for Indianapolis and a score of other
points. The incoming trucks, with rare exceptions, bring return loads. The
empty haul has almost faded from the picture. Incoming freight may be
general merchandise. It may be paint or machinery, cotton fabric or radios.
But tires are not the only goods regularly loading the trucks that depart
from here. Mechanical rubber goods, hard rubber and all sorts of Akron
products make up this freight.
The Same Elsewhere
The thing that is going on here—the growth of
transportation by truck—is repeated elsewhere. Detroit, Kansas City and
every large distributing point has its fleets of trucks and its independent
operators working for the brokerage houses.
Of course, semi-local trucking has become an old story.
Long distance trucking is no longer a novelty. But the growth of the
business and its rapid gains are impressive.
From the Akron-Kansas City station out Arlington Street
the other day a laden truck was pulling out—a tractor with trailer. This is
the most modern and fastest transportation in the truck field. This truck
was bound for Albany, Tennessee, wherever that may be, and was to proceed
also to Georgia and return with a load of Goodrich fabric. Similarly, from
the Patton Trucking Company, a load was being dispatched to the distant east
and a representative of the local concern will have a return load ready to
send back from the eastern destination.
On the longer hauls it is usual to send two men with
each truck, for the machine keeps going day and night. While one driver is
at the wheel the other has at his disposal a comfortable bunk built into the
truck at the rear of the driver's seat. The men live on the truck, getting,
their meals at roadside or other restaurants.
Normal tractor with trailer speed is around 25 miles
per hour. Kansas City, 800 miles away, has been reached in 36 hours' running
time. An average Akron-Kansas City round trip requires six days. For minor
repairs operators are authorized to obtain what they must have. These men
must be intelligent and they must use their heads. Serious difficulty is
reported back to the employer and instructions emanate from such
Truck freight rates are the same as rail freight rates.
The trucking concerns have and use the argument that they give faster
service and from door to door. But it is on commodities carrying a
relatively high freight rate that they must get their trade. They must look
to finished goods. Raw materials and low-rate freight are not for them.
Tire manufacturers have in trucks and buses a highly
important outlet for their product. These big machines in constant service
use up tires far faster than the individual passenger or pleasure car. The
big tires run into money volume speedily. Extension of truck and bus
operation means increasing demands for both original and renewal
equipment. This means something to Akron.
But another view of the picture is also interesting.
Consider the evolution of transportation—what is going on today and what
went on yesterday. Here in Akron we see the advancing mastery of the air and
can readily grasp the idea of operating great commercial airships.
A short hundred years ago the canal and the boats upon
it were the utmost available in the field of transportation in these
regions. More was not expected. They were thought sufficient; and so they
were for their time, perhaps. But within 30 years they were completely
outdated and eventually abandoned.
Here in Akron, also, we saw the coming of the world's
first long-distance electric railway. Here was to be a new, far-reaching
factor in modern transportation. Thousands of miles of such railways were
built. Today the vast part of this mileage is profitless if it still exists.
Hundreds of the roads have been abandoned — the tracks torn up.
On the steam railroads, local passenger trains, once
popular and well patronized, are few and profitless. The automobile has sent
them to the discard. Now the motor truck is taking more and more of the
higher-rate freight business. Will the steam carriers come to hauling coal
and ore and lumber only? Probably not; but the evolution of transportation
proceeds so fast that what your father once thought was the last word and
the ultimate, is now just something that used to be.
"Trucks." Akron Topics Aug. 1931: p3.
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