The 1941 ICC report backs up what you are saying for several categories coming out of California - citrus, grapes especially, but not so for fresh vegetables, although I do not know if in 1941 CA was shipping that much fresh vegetables into the North East US. The transit times may have been too great during that era.
Actually it looks like the Erie stole a lot more traffic from the NYC than it did the PRR. The problem with comparing the PRR and Erie ICC totals for produce is that the PRR handled a much larger volume of fruits because of the traffic from the Southeast US. For example, PRR orange and grapefruit tonnage for 1941 included 457,439 tons received by interchange and delivered to PRR customers, and another 157,243 tons delivered to connecting carriers. For the same categories, the Erie delivered 188,917 tons and 39,372 tons, respectively (Only about 1/3 of the PRR tonnage). The NYCentral only delivered 118,291 and 91,592 tons, respectively. This would suggest an "apples to apples" comparison of the PRR and Erie for this category is too distorted by shipments from Florida. What is interesting is how much citrus the Erie delivered to its customers - since the Erie did not touch many of the large eastern cities, so I would assume this was traffic into NYCity. This would suggest that the PFE was more interested in selecting the Erie over the NYCentral to get into NYCity, than it was over the PRR (The Erie route may even have been shorter than the PRR's route.) While delivery to Erie customers exceed NYCentral delivery to their own customers, the NYCentral did interchange a lot of citrus, I suspect on into Boston and New England, where the Erie and PRR could not reach easily.
Grapes are another matter, and I do not recall Florida being a significant grape growing state (too humid.) Here the Erie ruled - carrying a lot more grapes than either the PRR or NYCentral. All data is 1941, tons accepted from other carriers:
Erie - 86,686 delivered, 71,265 to connecting line
NYCentral - 31,609, 20,879
PRR - 65,936, 11,655
These are the only two categories in the ICC data where it is clear the Erie was the preferred road into NYCity. The PRR's fresh vegetable tonnage (received in interchange as opposed to locally grown) was 8 times the Erie's fresh vegetable traffic received in interchange. No doubt much of the PRR traffic came from the Southeast US.
The ICC data would certainly appear to support the remarks you heard from PFE, especially for traffic into NYCity.
---In STMFC@..., <tony@...> wrote :
Bruce Smith wrote:
Please note I never said that most perishable traffic went over the Erie. I have repeated what former PFE people told me, that they strongly and frequently urged shippers to choose the Erie for faster, more dependable service and fewer damage claims. But obviously the Erie served a limited amount of the east, primarily the New York area. You could still use Erie for part of the trip to other cities, but obviously Pennsy's service area would draw a lot of traffic.
I think if you look at the size of cities served by PRR compared to Erie, carrying three times as much perishable traffic is a sad multiple for PRR.