A-74912, MAY 23, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1025

A-74912: May 23, 1936

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - MAILS - TRANSPORTATION BY AIR AT REGULAR RATES THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR TRANSPORTATION. 1936: REFERENCE IS HAD TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 6. AS FOLLOWS: IT IS DESIRED TO PRESENT FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AND DECISION. SPECIAL HANDLING PARCEL-POST MAILS ON A HIGHLY EXPEDITED SCHEDULE REQUIRING A MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION CAPABLE OF A GREATER SPEED THAN IS OBTAINABLE WITH LAND VEHICLES. THE FLORIDA KEYS WERE VISITED LAST FALL BY A TERRIFIC TORNADO WHICH DAMAGED THE TRACKS OF THE FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY TO THE EXTENT THAT NO ATTEMPT HAS YET BEEN MADE TO MAKE REPAIRS. AS THE COMPANY IS WITHOUT FUNDS TO UNDERTAKE THE REBUILDING WORK AND THE MATTER NOW IN THE HANDS OF THE COURTS WITH NO PROSPECT OF AN EARLY DECISION AS TO THE FINAL OUTCOME OF THE CASE.

A-74912, MAY 23, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1025

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - MAILS - TRANSPORTATION BY AIR AT REGULAR RATES THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR TRANSPORTATION, AT REGULAR POSTAGE RATES, OF MAIL BY AIR AS A STAR ROUTE SERVICE MERELY TO EXPEDITE DELIVERY.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MAY 23, 1936:

REFERENCE IS HAD TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 6, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

IT IS DESIRED TO PRESENT FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AND DECISION, THE QUESTION OF PROVIDING A STAR ROUTE FROM MIAMI TO KEY WEST, FLORIDA, TO HANDLE FIRST-CLASS, NEWSPAPERS, AND SPECIAL DELIVERY, AND SPECIAL HANDLING PARCEL-POST MAILS ON A HIGHLY EXPEDITED SCHEDULE REQUIRING A MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION CAPABLE OF A GREATER SPEED THAN IS OBTAINABLE WITH LAND VEHICLES.

THE FLORIDA KEYS WERE VISITED LAST FALL BY A TERRIFIC TORNADO WHICH DAMAGED THE TRACKS OF THE FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY TO THE EXTENT THAT NO ATTEMPT HAS YET BEEN MADE TO MAKE REPAIRS, AS THE COMPANY IS WITHOUT FUNDS TO UNDERTAKE THE REBUILDING WORK AND THE MATTER NOW IN THE HANDS OF THE COURTS WITH NO PROSPECT OF AN EARLY DECISION AS TO THE FINAL OUTCOME OF THE CASE.

AT THE PRESENT TIME THE PASSENGER TRAIN TERMINUS OF THE LINE IS MIAMI, WHICH MAKES MIAMI THE MAIL SUPPLY BASE FOR ALL POINTS FROM THERE TO THE END OF THE KEYS AT KEY WEST.

KEY WEST IS A CITY OF SOME TWELVE THOUSAND PEOPLE AND THE BUSINESS INTERESTS THERE ARE NATURALLY DEPENDENT UPON ADEQUATE MAIL FACILITIES IF THEY ARE TO SURVIVE.

PRIOR TO THE TORNADO A THROUGH MAIL TRAIN FROM NEW YORK ARRIVED AT 11:50 A.M., AND LEFT AT 5:40 P.M., PERMITTING BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE TO BE ANSWERED ON THE DAY OF RECEIPT.

A TEMPORARY STAR ROUTE TO HANDLE ALL CLASSES OF MAIL AT A RATE OF $21,197 PER ANNUM OR ABOUT $58.00 PER DAY IS NOW IN EFFECT. THIS STAR ROUTE, WHICH IS 194 MILES LONG, IS SCHEDULED TO LEAVE MIAMI ON RECEIPT OF MAILS FROM THE NEW YORK TRAIN BUT NOT LATER THAN 9:30 A.M. AND ARRIVE KEY WEST IN 7 HOURS, SUPPLYING CERTAIN INTERMEDIATE OFFICES EN ROUTE. ON THE RETURN, THE SCHEDULE IS TO LEAVE KEY WEST AT 1 P.M. AND ARRIVE MIAMI 9:30 P.M., CONNECTING THE NEW YORK TRAIN.

THE CONTRACTOR CARRIES THE MAILS IN A TRUCK FROM MIAMI TO UPPER MATECUMBE KEY AND FROM NO NAME KEY TO KEY WEST. BETWEEN UPPER MATECUMBE KEY AND NO NAME KEY, DISTANCE OF ABOUT 40 MILES, A POWER BOAT IS USED, AND MAILS HAVE TO BE TRANSFERRED FROM TRUCK TO BOAT AND FROM BOAT TO TRUCK AT EACH END OF THE BOAT RUN.

MOTOR VEHICLES OPERATED OVER THE HIGHWAY NOW IN USE AND POWER BOATS BETWEEN THE POINTS WHERE THE HIGHWAY WAS DESTROYED IS THE ONLY AVAILABLE MEANS OF TRAVEL.

THIS SCHEDULE DOES NOT PERMIT BUSINESS LETTERS TO BE RECEIVED AT KEY WEST UNTIL THE NORTHBOUND STAR ROUTE HAS DEPARTED, AND A FULL BUSINESS DAY IS LOST.

IN VIEW OF THE IMPORTANCE OF KEY WEST FROM A BUSINESS STANDPOINT, IT IS DESIRED TO OVERCOME ITS ISOLATION TO SOME EXTENT BY ESTABLISHING A FAST DIRECT MAIL SERVICE OVER ANOTHER STAR ROUTE FROM MIAMI FOR HANDLING ONLY PREFERENTIAL CLASSES OF MAIL AT THE REGULAR RATES OF POSTAGE WITH NO INTERMEDIATE STOPS AND ON A SCHEDULE OF ABOUT THREE HOURS IN EACH DIRECTION WITH ARRIVAL AT KEY WEST ABOUT 11 A.M. AND A DEPARTURE ABOUT 4 P.M.

THE ONLY CONVEYANCES CAPABLE OF SUCH A SCHEDULE ARE AIRPLANES, AND BIDS FOR SERVICE BY THAT TYPE OF TRANSPORTATION ARE AT HAND, THE RATES BEING FROM $60 TO $75 PER DAY.

AS THE LAWS GOVERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF STAR ROUTES DO NOT RESTRICT THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAILS TO A PARTICULAR TYPE OF CONVEYANCE. IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE THIS DEPARTMENT WHETHER IT MAY PROPERLY ENTER INTO A CONTRACT FOR STAR ROUTE SERVICE WHERE THE MAILS CAN BE CARRIED ONLY BY AIRPLANE AND MEET THE SCHEDULE OUTLINED IN THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS.

WHILE IT MAY BE TRUE, AS STATED IN YOUR LETTER, THAT THE LAWS RELATING TO STAR ROUTES DO NOT SPECIFICALLY PRESCRIBE THE PARTICULAR MEANS OF CONVEYANCE TO BE USED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF SERVICE THEREON, THERE HAVE BEEN ENACTED SPECIFIC LAWS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF MAIL BY AIR, AND THE PROVISIONS IN THE EXISTING AIR-MAIL LAWS, INDICATE NOT ONLY THAT SUCH METHOD OF MAIL TRANSPORTATION SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ON A BASIS DIFFERENT THAN OTHER MAIL TRANSPORTATION BUT CLEARLY SHOW THAT STAR-MAIL ROUTES AND AIR-MAIL ROUTES SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED AND USED FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF DIFFERENT MAIL MATTER.

IF IT BE DETERMINED FROM AN ADMINISTRATIVE STANDPOINT THAT AN AIR MAIL ROUTE SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED BETWEEN MIAMI AND KEY WEST TO SUPPLEMENT THE PRESENT MAIL-TRANSPORTATION SERVICE BETWEEN THOSE TWO POINTS OR FOR OTHER REASONS, THE MAIL MATTER TRANSPORTED ON SUCH ROUTE SHOULD BE LIMITED AS ON OTHER AIR-MAIL ROUTES TO MAIL MATTER UPON WHICH A PROPER AIR-MAIL POSTAGE RATE HAS BEEN PAID AS REQUIRED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 12, 1934 (48 STAT. 933), AND NOT AS APPEARS TO BE THE PRESENT PROPOSAL TO CARRY BY AIR MAIL UPON WHICH THE AIR-MAIL POSTAGE HAS NOT BEEN PAID.

IN SPECIFIC ANSWER TO THE QUESTION SUBMITTED, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT IN VIEW OF THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS RELATING TO AIR-MAIL TRANSPORTATION FIXING A SPECIAL POSTAGE RATE AND PROVIDING OTHER CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH AIR-MAIL CONTRACTS MAY BE LET, YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO CONTRACT FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF REGULAR MAIL BETWEEN MIAMI AND KEY WEST BY AIR AS A STAR -ROUTE SERVICE MERELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXPEDITING THE DELIVERY OF MAIL AS COMPARED WITH THE TIME REQUIRED BY OTHER AVAILABLE MEANS.