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DETROIT UNITED RAILWAY v. PEOPLE STATE MICHIGAN DETROIT UNITED RAILWAY V. CITY DETROIT

December 11, 1916

DETROIT UNITED RAILWAY
v.
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

DETROIT UNITED RAILWAY
v.
CITY OF DETROIT



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Van Devanter, Pitney, McReynolds, Brandeis, Clarke

Author: Pitney

[ 242 U.S. Page 242]

 MR. JUSTICE PITNEY delivered the opinion of the court.

These two cases involve identical questions, were argued together, and may be disposed of in a single opinion. They concern the rates of fare that may be charged by plaintiff in error upon certain street railway lines within the present limits of the City of Detroit, and in both cases it is insisted that the state court of last resort has given such an effect to statutes enacted in the years 1905 and 1907 for extending the corporate limits as to impair the obligation of the contracts contained in franchises theretofore granted by the governing authorities of the annexed territory to the predecessors in title of plaintiff in error.

Plaintiff in error was incorporated December 28, 1900, under the Street Railway Act of 1867 and amendments thereto (Mich. Laws 1867, vol. 1, p. 46; Comp. Laws 1897, c. 168), for the purpose, as its corporate name indicates, of acquiring, maintaining, and operating various lines theretofore constructed by other companies. Section 15 of the act (§ 6448, Comp. Laws) provides that any street railway company may purchase and acquire any street railway in any city, village, or township owned by another corporation, together with the rights, privileges, and franchises thereof, "and may use and enjoy the rights, privileges and franchises of such company, the same, and upon the same terms as the company whose road and franchises were so acquired might have done." Under this authority it shortly thereafter acquired and united under one organization certain lines previously constructed and operated independently throughout the city and its suburbs under different and distinct franchises, of which the following is a summary:

In November, 1862, the city, by ordinance, granted to the incorporators of the Detroit City Railway the right

[ 242 U.S. Page 243]

     to construct railways in certain streets, including Jefferson Avenue, which extends from the centre of the city in a northeasterly direction to and beyond the city limits. All the lines authorized were to commence at Campus Martius, and run thence on their several courses to the city limits, and the route along Jefferson Avenue to the eastern limits was to be completed within six months after March 31, 1863. In 1873 a section was added authorizing the construction of a second track along Jefferson Avenue. In 1862 the city limits on Jefferson Avenue were at Mt. Elliott Avenue. In 1885 they were extended to a point 200 feet east of Baldwin Avenue, and while they remained as thus fixed, and in the year 1889, a supplemental ordinance was passed granting to the Detroit City Railway, among other things, the right to extend its double track along Jefferson Avenue from its then present easterly terminus to the easterly city limits, and fixing a time within which the same should be constructed. There was a provision that the additional lines should be operated in connection with and as parts of the then present system of the Detroit City Railway, and that the company should agree, among other things, to make arrangements for carrying passengers between the hours of 5:30 and 7:00 a.m., and between 5:15 and 6:15 p.m., over any of its lines in the city for a single fare upon tickets sold at the rate of eight for twenty-five cents, with specified transfer rights.

In 1891 the city limits were further extended along Jefferson Avenue to Hurlburt Avenue, which was the easterly line of the Township of Hamtramck. The railroad on Jefferson Avenue in the territory covered by this extension was constructed under franchises granted by the authorities of that township, respecting which no question is now raised.

From Hurlburt Avenue eastwardly to the Country Club in the Township of Grosse Pointe -- a distance of about four and one-half miles -- the railroad on Jefferson Avenue was constructed under several grants made by the Township

[ 242 U.S. Page 244]

     and Village of Grosse Pointe, and the Village of Fairview, in the years 1891, 1893, and 1895, and further powers were conferred upon plaintiff in error, after its acquisition of these lines, by ordinance of the Village of Fairview passed May 16, 1905. These several village and township grants were for terms that have not yet expired, and contain provisions for five-cent fares within the territory covered by them.

The Jefferson Avenue lines are operated together as a single system in connection with lines leading from the city northwestwardly on Grand River Avenue to and beyond the city limits, constructed under rights derived by predecessors in title of plaintiff in error as follows:

By ordinance of May 1, 1868, the city granted to the incorporators of the Grand River Street Railway Company the right to construct lines on certain streets, including Grand River Avenue to its intersection with the Michigan Southern Railway at or near the then present city limits, with the right to build a second track within five years after the completion of the first. By § 8 this line was to be completed to a specified point contemporaneously with the paving of the street, and thence to the western city limits whenever public necessity, as determined by the common council, should require. By Acts of 1875 and 1885 the limits were extended from the railroad intersection to a point just beyond the Boulevard. By ordinance of August 3, 1888, there was granted the right to construct single tracks on Grand River Avenue from its then present terminus to the westerly city limits, and by ordinance of January 3, 1889, the city granted the right, among others, to construct a double track railway on Grand River Avenue from Woodward Avenue to the city limits, and under this authority tracks were built to the limits just beyond the Boulevard. The latter ordinance required the company to stipulate that it would sell tickets eight for twenty-five cents, good over the entire

[ 242 U.S. Page 245]

     route of the company, when offered during the morning and afternoon hours specified in the ordinance passed on the same date respecting the ...


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