History of transport – part 24. How the German road transport developed at the beginning of the 20th century
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The beginning of the 20th century was not the easiest time for the German road transport. The lack of capital and the monopoly of railways blocked the development of the private sector. However, slowly but surely, the real changes were being introduced. Thanks to a systematic shift from the horse transport, motorized road transports could develop their services.
The German Post transporting also passengers
In 1913, the German Post had 315 buses running on the routes of the total value of 3248 km. That year, they were used by 4.9 million passengers. Eight years later, the company already had 428 buses which took 8.18 million passengers on 270 routes totalling 5985 km. In 1928, the fleet extended more than six times to reach the number of 2849 buses, running on 1722 routes which added up to 32,094 km. In the period of the highest prosperity, the buses transported 68.85 million passengers.
The postal network was complemented by private carriers, gathered in two industry associations. In 1928, they had 1211 buses running on 511 routes totaling 8592 km. The private transport operators reached a slightly higher number, i.e. 74.17 million passengers.
Railway monopoly blocking development of road transport
The rapid growth of the biggest German carrier by far outran the dynamics of its private competitors’ achievements. Its development was limited due to the lack of capital, but the main obstacle was in the regulations protecting the communication monopoly of the railways, which also included buses.
So, in 1924-1932, the number of horses in Germany decreased by 12 percent. Still in 1927, in Berlin, there were eight thousand draught horses and 200 trucks. In Bremen, there were 900 horses and 40 trucks working in the streets.
Few company owners took a risk of buying expensive cars. They preferred less efficient but cheaper ox or horse wagons because in case of a small number of orders they could get a return on a small investment.
Deutsche Bahn continued to be a dominant power which took advantage of the heavy industry development, stimulated by the American and British capital flowing to Germany. The heavy industry used mostly the railways, so the road cargo transport was of marginal significance. However, the bus transport was growing.
In the next episode of the History of Transport in Trans.INFO:
How buses quickly conquered the transport market.
Previous articles in the series:
From military surplus to civilian use, or how the bus industry was born
A half of cheese – bribes given to German customs officers 90 years ago