The author states that motor transport today is threatened with arrested progress due to the lack of economic coordination between motor-vehicle operation, highway construction and legislative regulation. Highways constructed at considerable cost to the public have gone to pieces in many places, sometimes years before their bond issues have matured. Efforts to preserve these roads have been confined principally to heavy taxation and restriction of motor transport; they have not been made upon a sound economic basis, largely because principles of highway-transport economics are not only imperfectly understood, but have hardly been studied sufficiently to provide any definite basis of understanding. The development of highway construction and motor-truck operation must proceed along sound lines to protect the public against serious and unnecessary losses, to preserve what highways we have, to build a sure foundation for better ones in the future and to forestall disaster to the builders and the thousands of users of the most economical types of highway-transport vehicle. The solution of this matter is the application of scientific inquiry and engineering skill to the economic problems presented. As a contribution to preliminary thought on the subject, this Annual Meeting paper was prepared for the purpose, principally, of stating the main features of the problems involved in their interrelation and significance.
An effort has been made to represent graphically the factors entering into the ideal of motor-transport economics; namely, economic efficiency. The conclusions hazarded in the paper are suggestive rather than final in many cases and no attempt has been made to evaluate definitely the various factors of efficient motor transport. It is hoped that the paper will provoke thought and discussion among engineers, to the end that the considerable volume of research necessary to arrive at such evaluation can be promoted.