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WASHINGTON, D. C., November 10, 1885.
Sir: The annual cost of inland mail transportation on the 30th of
June, 1885, was-
For 12,371 star routes, aggregating 232,222 miles in length..

$5,414, 804 For mail messenger service, supplying 5,335 offices..

879, 217 For 116 steamboat routes, aggregating 11,997 miles in length

563, 002 For 1,621 railroad routes, aggregating 121,032 miles in length. $14, 758, 495 For railway post-office car service

1,869, 488

16, 627,983 For railway post-office clerks...

4, 280, 118 For mail equipments

269, 957 For necessary and special facilities on trunk lines.

250,000 Total.

28, 285, 081 Since the last annual statement there is shown by the above figures an increase for star service of 642 routes, 5,443 miles in length, and $324,863 in cost.

For mail messenger service, an increase of 40 offices, and of $15,904 in annual cost.

For steamboat service, a decrease of one route, and of 3,594 miles in length, and of $33,571 in annual cost.

For railroad service, including railway post office cars, an increase of 48 routes, of 3,872 miles in length, and of $1,615,380 in annual cost.

In this statement fines and deductions are not considered; the sums actually disbursed appear in the Auditor's report. The number of contracts drawn in duplicate during the year

ended June 30, 1885, was 5,482.

A comparison of the star and steamboat service for the fiscal year last ended, with an average of the same service for the six years next preceding, shows the following results:

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It will be seen by a comparison of the annual cost of mail transportation on railroads during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1885, with the statement of cost of the same class of service for the year ended June 30, 1884, that while there was a small increase during the last fiscal year in the number of railroad routes, and a decrease in the number of miles of new railroad service, there was, nevertheless, an increase in the amount of cost, as is shown by the following table:

For the year ended June 30, 1884: Increase in the number of routes

60 Increase in the number of miles in length..

6,952 Increase in the annual cost of transportation

.$1, 124, 803 For the year ended June 30, 1885 : Increase in the number of routes

48 Increase in the number of miles in length

3, 872 Increase in the annual cost of railroad service, including railway postoffice cars.....

.$1,615, 380 In explanation of this increase in the cost of transportation during the last fiscal year I beg to submit the following facts:

By reference to the reports of my predecessors for the fiscal years ended June 30, 1882, 1883, and 1884, respectively, it will be seen that there was at the termination of each of these fiscal years a large amount of railroad transportation service remaining unadjusted, as is shown by the following tabulated statement taken from these reports:

Unadjusted railroad service.

Fiscal year.


June 30, 1892
June 30, 18-3
June 30, 1884

8, 449 7, 234 9, 026

During the fiscal year ended June 30, 1885, special efforts were made by this office to reduce the amount of the unadjusted railroad transportation to as low a figure as possible, so that the books of this office should closely show the cost of this branch of the service and the Department could at any time know approximately at least the relation of that cost to the amount of the appropriation therefor. The result is shown in a subsequent part of this report, from which it appears that the amount of railroad transportation service remaining unadjusted at the close of the fiscal year ended June 30, 1885, was only 2,915 miles.

The decrease in the amount of unadjusted railway service thus effected during the last fiscal year, over the three preceding fiscal years, necessarily caused a corresponding increase in the actual cost of that service for the last fiscal year. The comparative amount of this decrease of unadjusted mileage, and consequent increase in cost of railroad transportation of the last fiscal year over preceding years, is shown in the following statement, the cost being estimated at $60 per mile :

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The actual average cost per mile of adjusted service during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1885, will probably exceed the estimate of $60 per mile, as given above, as adjustments were made on quite a number of long lines, including the Northern Pacific, Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio, New York, West Shore and Buffalo, &c., where the rate is considerably in excess of the estimate of $60 per mile. It is also to be noted that during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1885, under contracts made between the Department and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and the Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul Railroads, copies of which contracts are annexed to this report, a special reweighing of the mails carried, on these and on parallel and competing roads, was ordered, in compliance with the conditions of the contracts with said roads, and readjustments of pay thereon were made. These readjustments fell in the last fiscal year and thereby increased the annual aggregate cost of railroad transportation $50,000. It is probable that this last-named sum of $50,000 only expresses the amount of the actual and natural increase of the mails weighed, and I only refer to it as in part explanatory of the increase in the aggregate cost of railway transportation during the last fiscal year.

Taking these facts into consideration, and making the proper deductions therefor, the increase in cost of railroad transportation for 1885 compares favorably with the increase of previous years, the increase in 1882 over 1881 being $1,139,816; in 1883 over 1882, $1,134,616; and the increase in 1884 over 1883 being $1,124,803.


Appropriation for the current year....

$5,900,000 Annual rate of expenditure on September 30, 1885.

5,522, 218 Sum estimated as necessary for the current year.....

5,576, 218 I recommend that the sum of $5,850,000 be appropriated for this item for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1887, being 0.85 per cent. less than the appropriation for the current year.

By the statement at the beginning of this report it will be seen that during the last fiscal year there has been an increase in the star branch of the service of 612 routes, 5,443 miles in length, and of $.324,863 in the annual cost of transportation. It has already been noted in the report of one of my predecessors that a stage had been reached and passed when any further reduction might be looked for in this branch of the postal service, and the results of the last fiscal year, as shown in the above statement, demonstrate the correctness of this observation. The largest percentage of this increase was made in the Western States and Territories. As the population expands, it necessarily follows that the demands tor extension of mail routes and increase in the frequency of trips on those already established multiply.

'It has been anticipated by some that the extension of railroads and the increase of the postal service thereon would in time very considerably reduce the quantity and cost of star service. But this an. ticipation has not been borne out by the results; for while the extension of lines of railroad and the consequent putting of postal service thereon has enabled the Department to curtail or dispense with many star routes, it is found by experience that these new lines of railroads themselves, bringing as they do a large increase of population, mostly composed of a hardy, industrious, and energetic class of people, filling up the vacant lands in our Western and Southern States and the Territories, increase the demand for star service, for which the railroads become the basis of supply. And this mutual growth and expansion of these two branches of mail transportation, by a law which is necessary and obvious, is likely to continue in the future, because it is not to be anticipated that the railroad system, expanding as it constantly is in every direction, can ever become so iamitied throughout the whole extent of our widespread domain as to supersede the star service to any considerable extent.

The rate of expenditure on account of star service on June 30, 1884, was $5,089,941. The rate on July 1, 1-84, was $5,388,174. The rate on June 30, 1885, was $5,414,804, being an increase over the preceding June of $324,863, and over July 1, 1884, of $26,630. This increase was due to the 642 new routes put in operation during the year, the increase of trips and distance on other routes, and the increased cost of service relet from July 1, 1884.

The general advertisement of September 15, 1885, inviting proposals for the performance of service from July 1, 1886, embraces the States of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, and California, the Indian Territory, and the Territories of Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska

The following table exhibits the changes in the annual cost of star service effected by orders from April 1 to September 30, 1885:

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And this reduction has been made without any impairment of the efficiency of the service, the routes curtailed or discontinued, in whole or in part, being, in my judgment, unnecessary, or the cost thereof being so excessive in comparison with the revenues of the offices served thereby as not to warrant a continuance of the service dispensed with.

In the act of Congress authorizing the Postmaster-General to establish service on postal routes, it is directed that that officer “shall provide for carrying the mails on all post routes established by law as often as he, having due regard to the productiveness and other circumstances, may think proper.” It will be perceived that the power conferred upon the Postmaster-General to establish service is not an absolute and arbi. trary one, but that it is subject to the limitations specified in that act, to wit, “productiveness and other circumstances.” By a long estab. lished and uniform rule in this Department, the productiveness" of the service on any route is measured by the returns from the post offices whose supply is provided for on the route. This rule furnishes an index to the “ productiveness” of the route, and a criterion to the volume of postal business transacted by the people whom the offices are intended to supply.

In making the above reductions this oflice has been guided by these two considerations, namely:

That it is the duty of the Department to supply adequate and efficient mail facilities to the public wherever and whenever needed, and to ob. tain these facilities at as reasonable a cost as possible.


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