Historical Fares?

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Historical Fares?

Postby gengwall » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:09 am

I am researching turn of the century NYC travel and am in need of fare tables. Do they exist? I have the schedules I need but I have not been able to find any info on fares. Any help would be appreciated.
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Re: Historical Fares?

Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:50 pm

gengwall wrote:I am researching turn of the century NYC travel and am in need of fare tables. Do they exist? I have the schedules I need but I have not been able to find any info on fares. Any help would be appreciated.


What year, specifically? You may find fare information in old timetables or old issues of The Official Guide.
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Re: Historical Fares?

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:34 pm

If you can't find fare information in old public timetables (and there were entire decades when they either didn't contain any, or -- maddeningly -- showed Pullman berth and room charges but not fares for transportation), you might have to resort to the ICC statistical reports of which a volume was published for each year from 1887 or -88. They have a breakdown by railroad showing, among a mass of figures, revenue per passenger mile. At the turn of the century they would have shown separate figures for NYC, B&A, Big Four, MC, and possibly the Lake Shore broken out separately. Since the numbers are averages they can't be used to calculate specific fares -- the best you can get from it would be a ballpark estimate. Making things more challenging, the mileage for a specific origin and destination was calculated on "short-line mileage"; i.e., the shortest physically possible rail route, whether or not that of the railroad operating the service. For example, as I recall, the DL&W had the shortest mileage from New York to Buffalo, so if the NYC wished to be fare-competitive it had to match that fare, and could do so with the blessing of the ICC. Thus, it's hopeless to try to arrive at a specific fare for a specific journey, but at least the average revenue per passenger mile enables you to come up with a range. Finding the ICC reports is another matter. The library of the National Railway Historical Society has a complete set, but unfortunately it is in temporary storage while the NRHS searches for a new library site. Someplace like the Barriger Library might have a set. FWIW.
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Re: Historical Fares?

Postby Lucius Ameri » Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:59 pm

I don't know about the turn of the century, but I have a fare book for travel between Il/IN/KY/MI/NY/OH/ON/PA/WV and AL/CUBA/FL/GA/KY/LA/MI/NC/SC/TN. It's from 1940...if you want specifics PM me. Published by the "Central Passenger Association". For travel in sleeping cars, parlor cars, and coaches. No Grand Central listings, says to refer to another book. It includes routing on the New York Central...got it from the Cleveland Union Terminal office.
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Re: Historical Fares?

Postby erie2521 » Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:21 pm

One of the reasons RR Timetables didn't include a lot of fare information was that they charged a set fare per mile. For most railroads in the years prior to World War II, this was two cents a mile for coach and three cents a mile( plus seat or berth charge which usually was in the timetable) for first class, either parlor cars or sleepers. (The one exception I can remember is the B&O which charged one and a half cents for coach.) Anyhow, with that knowledge and the distance between the two points in question are all you would need to know. Look in the front of the timetables or anywhere there is general information for the per mile charge. It ought to be there someplace. Ted
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Re: Historical Fares?

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:05 pm

erie2521 wrote:One of the reasons RR Timetables didn't include a lot of fare information was that they charged a set fare per mile. For most railroads in the years prior to World War II, this was two cents a mile for coach and three cents a mile( plus seat or berth charge which usually was in the timetable) for first class, either parlor cars or sleepers. (The one exception I can remember is the B&O which charged one and a half cents for coach.) Anyhow, with that knowledge and the distance between the two points in question are all you would need to know. Look in the front of the timetables or anywhere there is general information for the per mile charge. It ought to be there someplace. Ted


Don't forget that the cents per mile was general in application. Specific local fares over relatively short distances would probably reflect that, but fares between competitive points would reflect the distance via the shortest physically possible route. However, if a ballpark figure is acceptable, a cents-per-mile calculation would probably be close enough. The upside is that if you can find a timetable for the right period but the wrong railroad, e.g. New York-Buffalo on the DL&W or the Lehigh Valley, the fare would probably be the same as the New York Central's to the penny.
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