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Mr Carew, R.M., gave his decision to-day in the case in which the Dunedin and Suburban Tramway Companys proceeded against the Palace Car Company for obstructing a tramcar by one of the palace cars. His Worship said The information charges the defendant that be did, on the 2nd September, wilfully, and without lawful excuse, drive an omnibus in such a manner as to obstruct a carriage using a tramway in George street and Great King street, Dunedin. The evidence shows that the defendant was the driver of an omnibus travelling from the Water of Leith southwards in advance of a tramcar, and at Great King street near to St. David street the omnibus was stopped in such a position over one of the tram rails that the tramcar, which came np to it shortly afterwards, had to be brought to a standstill, and it could not proceed on the journey until the omnibus moved on again; and also that upon the same journey, shortly after the car entered George street, the omnibus was driven up from behind on the off side at a quick pace, and then immediately in front of thetramborses over to the near side* andthe speed of the tramcar bad to be temporarily checked to prevent a collision Of coarse, I can deal with only one offence iu this information, and what took place i a each street is separate and distinct from the other excepting so fat as defendant’s acts in George street may bear upon the question of whether the alleged obstruction in Great King street was a wilful obstruction or otherwise. The prosecution rel es in support of the chaige upon section 51 Tramways Act, 1872, which reads thus;— The Act “empowers local authorities to make by-laws for, among other things, the ‘ traffic on the road in which the tramway is laid.’ ” The 51st section provides “tbatany person ’who does or causes to be done anything in such a manner as to obstruct any carriage using a tramway ’ shall be subject to a penalty not exceeding L 5. ” I feel satisfied from the evidence that the real object of the omnibus being stopped in Great King street was to take up three passengers, and I am not satisfied that it was intentionally detained longer than was necessary. There is reason in what defendant stated that, being upon the tram line when his conductor rang the bell to stop to take np passengers, if he had continued driving on until he loft sufficient space for the car to pass the omnibus he would have stood some chance of passing over the passengers to the tramcar, and of course he could not bo expect d to do that if it is not in itself illegal to stop upon the tram line. The defendant’s conduct in George street was very reprehensible, and what took place there assists me in forming an opinion that driving upon the tram line was part of his tactics to command a choice of position over the tramcar. These are my findings, and the question is whether they bring defendant witein that part of the third provision of section 61 under winch the information is laid. In the first place the Tramways Act, 1873, sections 33,97, and 101 go to show that the promoters of a tramway have only anextensiveright to theuseof itin respect to carriages having flange wheels, or wheels suitable only to run on the rail of the tramway. Section 101 reads thus: “Nothing in this Act, or in any by-law made under this Act, shall t»ke away or abridge tho right of the public to pass along or across every or any part of any road along or across which any tramway is laid, whether on or off the tramway, with carriages not having flange wheels, or wheels suitable only to rnn on the rail of the tramway.” This provision is somewhat modified by the Amendment Act, 1888, but that does not aft'ect this case. To find that the stoppage in Great King street was a wilful obstruction without lawful excuse, I would have to agree that the Act abridged the right of the public to this extent—that it was not lawful to stop any ordinary carriage upon the tramway to take np or put down a passenger, if it interfered with the progress of a tramcar ; bnt I can find nothing in the Act to warrant each a conclusion. The borough councils have power, under Municipal Act', to make by-laws to regulate traffic; and by-laws may also be made under the Tramways Act; but I presume there are none that meet this case, or they wonld have been put in evidence. As the case stands, I think if defendant obstructed the tramcar he has Pehown a lawful excuse, inasmuch as he did so to allow passengers to enter his vehicle; but there is an authority, although not that of a ease decided in any Court, that an interference like that complained of is not an obstruction within the meaning of the exactly corresponding section to the Act of 1870 in force in England, and from which orr Act is taken. It is an opinion given V>y the editor of the * Justice of the Peace ’ for the year 1883, at page 815, on the following case put to that journal “ The driver of an ordinary cart continues on the tramway for twenty yards after the driver of a following tramcar has blown his whistle. Was this such an obstruot'on as is meant in the section, or should it be dealt with under the by-laws as a breach of the regulation of the traffic ?” The answer was as follows :—“We hardly think that this is the kind of obstruction ti which the section relates. That section applies more properly to such obstructions as the placing of stones or such things on the metals so as to obstruct the carriage or endanger the lives of the passengers. In the case before us tho obstruction is lather to the traffic, and wo think therefore that tho proceedings should be taken under the by-laws.” It seems to me that special by-laws are required to regulate the traffic in streets where ftramways are laid down.—Case dismissed, with costs 21s.

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Bibliographic details

OBSTRUCTING THE TRAMCARS., Evening Star, Issue 8007, 9 September 1889

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OBSTRUCTING THE TRAMCARS. Evening Star, Issue 8007, 9 September 1889