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The Committee proceeded to work out a plan providing for a contract between the City and the railroad company, upon which a public hearing was held under the terms of the Act. When submitted to the railroad company, however, its officials refused to countenance the plan, asserting that the specific provisions which had been included with a view to protecting the interests of the City to the utmost and which looked to a comprehensive development of freight terminal facilities for all the railroads entering the Port of JSTew York invaded its vested rights.
^Provision was made in Chapter 719 for just such a contingency. The Commission, in the event that the Joint Committee and the railroad company could not come to an agreement by December 1, 1917, was directed to proceed with the necessary routine to secure the removal of the tracks of the railroad from grade and to place them, either in a subway or upon an elevated structure, and to direct the substitution of other motive power for steam. The Commission took immediate steps under this mandatory provision, and its engineers, by the end of the year, were engaged in preparing the necessary plans which provided for part subway and part elevated construction. The Joint Committee, however, continued its existence in the hope that eventually a satisfactory agreement with the railroad company might be made. The action of the Commission in this work is treated at length in Chapter III of this volume.
Investigations Of Gas Standards The Commission during the year concluded a series of tests that were begun in 1916 to determine whether a heat unit standard for measuring the quality of illuminating gas should be adopted in the First District in place of the candle-power standard now required by law. Hearings were begun following the conclusion of these tests, the purpose of which has been outlined in previous Annual Reports. While the taking of testimony was going forward, representations were made to the Commission by high officials in the War Department of the urgency of an immediate supply of toluol, a chemical component of modem high explosives and a by-product of gas manufacture. It was felt that this extraction of toluol wrould necessitate a change in the gas standard. The ■ Commission took heed of this request, temporarily suspended the hearings and, approving the opinion of Chairman Oscar S. Straus, adopted an order presenting a method by which the gas companies might change the standard of quality and provide for the Government's needs for the period of the war and for three months thereafter, careful provision being made for the protection of all the rights of the consumers. The gas companies objected to these provisions, which had to do with discounting of consumers' bills proportionately to a reduction in the quality of the gas, and at the end of the year the matter was discussed in conferences between representatives of the War Department, the Commission and the producing companies. A more extended reference to this matter will be found under Formal Cases in Chapter VI of this Report.
As provided for in Section 16 of the Public Service Commissions Law, the Commission held several hearings during the latter part of 1917 in order to determine whether it should recommend certain new laws and amendments of certain existing statutes to your Honorable Body.
These hearings were largely attended by the general public and by representatives of corporations, who discussed at length several of the measures proposed. Some of those recommended will shortly be presented to your Honorable Body for consideration and enactment. One measure considered would vest in the Commission power to direct public service corporations engaged in the manufacture and sale of gas and electricity to refund to consumers excessive or unreasonable charges. The Interstate Commerce Commission and the utility boards of several states possess such powers. Another proposal would change the date of the fiscal year to correspond with the calendar year in the case of common carriers, in keeping with the practice of the Interstate Commerce Commission. A third measure proposed amendments to the Rapid Transit Act, which would clothe the Commission with power to purchase or lease lines or parts of lines of street surface railroads needed for the most efficient utilization of the Dual System of rapid transit. Another proposed act would give the Commission power to suspend tariffs, when filed, of gas, electric and steam corporations where changes were proposed and would place upon the companies the burden of proving the justice of proposed rate increases. The Commission now has such power in the case of transportation corporations. Extension of the power of the Commission over the issuance of securities wTith a view to protecting further the investing public was the subject of another amendment under consideration. The addition of public warehouses to the list of corporations and companies under the Commission's jurisdiction was also suggested. The need for regulation of these latter institutions was seen during the period of severe freight congestion in ISTew York at the end of 1917, at which time investigators for the Commission found that the socalled public warehouses had no fixed scale of prices or scheme of charges.
Regulation Of Public Service Corporations The Commission continued during the year the supervision and regulation of the operations of common carriers, gas and electric companies and other corporations placed under its jurisdiction by the Public Service Commissions Law. At the close of 1917 there were 104 such corporations, of which 74 were operating companies and 30 were lessor companies. In addition to the above the Commission also maintains jurisdiction over a few inchoate and dormant companies which still seem to maintain corporate existence. There are some holding companies and several trunk line railroads entering The City of New York which come within the jurisdiction of the Commission as to certain special matters. The total of 104 corporations includes an increase of one, a terminal railroad corporation. Of these corporations 72 are common carriers or transportation companies, including 59 street and electric railroads, 10 steam railroads, two baggage transfer companies and one stage coach company; 32 are gas, electric and steam companies, 10 electric light and power companies, two electric conduit companies and one steam company. The total capitalization of the 104 corporations, as represented by their outstanding stocks and bonds, was $1,557,319,355, an increase of $124,398,223 over 1916. Of this total of securities the transportation companies had $1,121,296,001, while the gas, electric and
The amount applied for by these companies was $46,779,772, the difference lying in the amounts authorized for the Dry Dock, East Broadway & Battery Ry. Co., which sought to obtain $2,0^30,000, and for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company on the second named issue above, which asked for $25,483,772.
Since its organization, July 1, 1907, the Commission has approved (to July 31, 1917) securities to a total amount of $696,134,677. The total amount applied for during the same period was $886,633,329.48. The Commission disallowed of this amount $172,559,308, while applications amounting to $12,527,444 were withdrawn. Applications aggregating $5,411,900 were pending at the end of the year.