Book Reviews

The plight of the public utilities following the World War has been shouted in a babel of demands for increased rates from one and all. The public has turned a doubting or hostile ear to these demands, and the utilities have overwhelmed the utility commissions with a vast mass of evidence to prove their case. None seem to have been harder hit than the electric railways. Some have ceased to operate, automobiles have already made deep cuts in their revenues, and there are not wanting those who predict that the electric railways, operating on fixed tracks, are already out of date and on the way to the scrap heap. One of many results of this situation was the appointment by the President in i919, on recommendation of the Secretaries of Commerce and Labor, of a Federal Commission to study and report upon the electric railway problem. This Federal Electric Railways Commission took an enormous mass of testimony submitted for the American Electric Railways Association by able counsel acting under a special committee of one hundred. The Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employes put in an elaborate and carefully prepared case for organized labor. The third party interested, the public, is represented by an unorganized presentation gathered from commissioners, municipal officers, and some utility experts. The Federal Commission engaged Dr. Wilcox, who had been one of the expert witnesses, to analyze the evidence and submit the result, with suggestions. This analysis constitutes the greater part of the book under review.