State v. Ottumwa Ry. & Light Co., 31188

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtLADD, J.
Docket Number31188
Decision Date15 December 1916

160 N.W. 336

178 Iowa 961

STATE OF IOWA, Appellee,


No. 31188

Supreme Court of Iowa, Des Moines

December 15, 1916

Appeal from Wapello District Court.--C. W. VERMILION, Judge.

ACTION in mandamus to compel compliance with the terms of a franchise granted to defendant. Decree was entered as prayed. The defendant appeals.


McNett & McNett, for appellant.

E. K. Daugherty and Jaques & Jaques, for appellee.

LADD, J. EVANS, C. J., GAYNOR and SALINGER, JJ., concur.

OPINION [160 N.W. 337]

[178 Iowa 962] LADD, J.


A franchise was granted by the city of Ottumwa, in 1901, to the company to which defendant is successor, "to acquire, construct, maintain and operate by electric or other motive power acceptable to the city, other than steam power, upon and over streets, alleys, and the Market Street bridge, and such other bridge or bridges as the council may in the future designate of the city of Ottumwa, a system of street railways to include its present lines, for the transportation of passengers, baggage, mail, express packages, produce, freight, etc., over and upon all of said lines, for a period of 25 years." Nearly all the lines had been laid then, and were in operation. A track extended along Second Street from Forest Avenue in a southeasterly direction to its intersection with Market Street, a distance of something over two miles. A track connecting with the Second Street line, near the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company's track, a trifle more than a mile east of Forest Avenue, was laid in 1906, along Main Street to Market Street, and a line previously constructed extended in an easterly direction to Vernon Street, a distance of about two and one-half miles. The Court Street line runs in a northerly, and the Jefferson Street line in a northeasterly, direction from the Second Street line at Market Street. The Church Street line is operated [178 Iowa 963] from the same point, over the Market Street bridge along Church Street in a southwesterly direction. From this line, the Ward Street line branches south, as also does the Sheridan Avenue line, from which the Wabash Avenue line branches. The Chester Street line extends westerly from the intersection of Church Street and Ward Avenue. The starting point for all cars is a loop formed by the Main and Second Street lines between Market Street and Green Street (Green being the next street east of Market), and tracks between these on Green, and double track on Market Street. There are 13.55 miles of track. For many years, cars departed from Market Street out on the several lines, and returned around the loop by going south on Market Street or east on Main Street, and on around to another trip. The several lines are connected only as stated. Until October 20, 1914, cars were operated both ways on Second Street and every other line of the city, except that on Main Street, but never regularly both ways on that street. In that month, defendant ceased running cars in an easterly direction on Second Street between Market Street and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway crossing, a distance of one mile, and since then has not operated cars on Main Street in a westerly direction between the points mentioned. The object of this action is "to require defendant to run its cars in each direction on Second Street and on Main Street in the city of Ottumwa, Iowa, at intervals not greater than 20 minutes, up to 10 o'clock P. M., and at least every 30 minutes from then on while the cars are being run." As all the lines are conceded to be operated under the franchise, it is unnecessary to set out the history of the development of the enterprise. Prior to October 20, 1914, two cars started at the intersection of Market and Second Streets, went south on Market Street to Main Street, then along it west, past its junction with Second Street on to Forest Avenue, the end of the line, and returned over Second Street to the starting point. The schedule of these cars was 15 minutes each way. Another car, known as [178 Iowa 964] the loop or shuttle car, was operated both ways on Second Street from Market Street to its junction with the Main Street track every 15 minutes. It will be observed that cars ran only one way on Main Street, and on Second Street, two cars easterly only, and the third, both ways. The change made October 20, 1914, was this: The loop or shuttle car, which had plied both ways, was taken off, and the two cars mentioned, with three cars theretofore operated on the east end of Main Street, between Market and Vernon Streets, were run westerly on Second Street to the end of the line on Forest Avenue, and back to the junction with the Main Street line, where they passed over to Main Street and on east to Vernon Street, and then back to Market Street, where they proceeded on Second Street as before, making a 10-minute schedule part of the day, and a 15-minute schedule during the remainder thereof. These cars, though operated both ways from the junction of the lines west to Forest Avenue, and from Market Street to Vernon Street, run one way only on Main and Second Streets between said junction of the lines and Market Street. Was this in violation of the portion of Section 9 of Ordinance No. 603, passed by the city council, ratified and approved by the people, and accepted by the defendant, and under which the street railway system is being operated? In so far as material, that section reads:

"This franchise is granted, and the rights and privileges herein conferred are subject to the [160 N.W. 338] following conditions, and the cars of said company shall be run upon and along the tracks of said company in conformity with the following rules, to wit: . . . Cars shall start from all proper starting points as early as 6 o'clock A. M., and run continuously as late as to 11 o'clock P. M., or until 12 P. M. if necessary. The council reserving the right to require the company to run until 12 P. M. at such times as it may designate by resolutions or ordinances. At all times during the day or night while cars are running, they shall, in each and every direction, run at intervals of not more than 20 minutes up [178 Iowa 965] to 10 o'clock P. M., after which, at least every 30 minutes in each and every direction, the last car to leave the central station on its outward trip as late as 11 o'clock P. M."

With reference thereto, counsel for appellant argued that this means that "the cars should make the round trip in each direction in the city traversed by the street car system at intervals of not more than 20 minutes;" that wherever defendant "projected a line, or close parallel lines, there should be one round trip at least every 20 minutes in the direction of such line or close parallel line." The argument seems to be that "each and every direction" has reference to geographical directions, or the points of the compass; and if cars go out in one general direction, as in a northerly direction, and they or others return from the northerly part of the city, this should be construed as operating the cars as exacted by the ordinance, assuming the lines to be connected by a loop, and only a few blocks apart. They say that, at the time the franchise was granted, it must have been perfectly obvious to all parties connected therewith, "and to the public in voting the same, that, if any car went out upon that line, it would either have to come back upon the same line, or remain out. In that case, there would have been no necessity for the use of the expression, 'in each and every direction,' since it could hardly have...

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