JOHN MARTIN SCHREIBER, who went by his middle name, came to New Jersey in 1903 to take a position with the Public Service Corporation, the the largest public transit company in the state, and the antecedent in many ways of the present Transport of New Jersey. He was noted in his time for his skills as an engineer, designer, and manager of public transportation.
In 1938, journalist Dan McConnell wrote:
"It was Martin Schreiber who planned and designed those comfortable and smooth riding All-Service trackless trolley busses. Yes, Martin, we remember those old-time Crosstown trolley cars"
Martin Schreiber oversaw the conversion from tracked to trackless trolleys, and eventually the integration of busses and the abandonment of the trolley system in South Jersey. In the 1920s and 1930s he also served as the manager of the Southern Division of the Public Service Corporation.
South Jersey: A History 1624-1924
JOHN MARTIN SCHREIBER—One of of the biggest public service companies in the is world is the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey, and, as all residents of Southern New Jersey know, it is one of the largest concerns operating street cars and bus lines, having one of the most extensive, rapid and efficient bus systems in the United States. It follows, then, that the man who would be manager of the Public Service Corporation's entire South Jersey operating district should be one of experience, ability, foresight and science—one of high standing in the world of electric railway operating and engineering. That John Martin Schreiber holds the position of South Jersey manager of the Corporation attests his ability, training and leadership in the electric railway engineering field. He is known throughout the Country through his work for the Public Service Corporation and for other concerns in the same field. He is an authority on railway engineering and is constantly sought for consultation in the transportation world. Mr. Schreiber is a prominent citizen of Camden, and is a member of many official and semiofficial civic bodies whose aims are to promote the growth and welfare of the city.
John Martin Schreiber was born in Ironton, Ohio, and he was first educated in the public schools of that railroad town, being graduated from the Ironton High School. He then began his preparations for the mechanical and electrical engineering profession. He matriculated in Ohio State University, in Columbus, and studied for the profession there. During the summer months he began to acquire experience in the field by working for the Electrical Department of the Laclede Gas Light Company of St. Louis, Missouri, for which he was a Watt meter inspector and tester. Before he was graduated from Ohio State University, Mr. Schreiber's father, who was a prominent general contractor and brick manufacturer of Ohio, with extensive operations along the Ohio River, died suddenly. Mr. Schreiber temporarily left the university and spent a year in finishing up some of his father's contracts and closing up the business. Then he returned to the university, from which he was finally graduated with the degrees of Mechanical and Electrical Engineer. Following graduation, Mr. Schreiber entered the employ of the Cleveland Electric Railway Company. His beginning was a humble one, not the sort to attract a professional engineer, as it was that of electrician on wire work that was incidental to connecting up of generators and switch boards. Mr. Schreiber, however, knew his abilities and his ambitions and saw in the modest start that he had made an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of his profession and with these he knew that he would be able to operate in the field on a more pretentious scale. When in 1903 Mr. Schreiber resigned from the Cleveland Electric Railway Company his foresight had been proved, for he was then executive engineer in charge of the drafting room and with supervision of construction, buildings and coal handling for the railway. It was in 1903 that Mr. Schreiber became affiliated with the Public Service Corporation. In that year he became assistant engineer. The next year opportunity for a test of Mr. Schreiber's ability came. The bridges of the Public Service Corporation at Paterson were swept away in a flood and all transportation through the city and consequently through that section of the State was at a virtual stand-still. Mr. Schreiber was assigned to the task of rehabilitating service swiftly—which meant that he was to plan and supervise the erection of bridges over the Passaic River in the shortest possible time so that cars could cross safely and end the tie-up. It was during this time that he designed and built the pile trestle railroad bridge with electrically operated bascule draw span on the Passaic, between Passaic and Wallington—all in the amazingly short space of forty days.
The unique feature of this bridge, as recorded by the Camden "Post-Telegram," which, reflecting the estimation of Mr. Schreiber by the people of Southern New Jersey, consistently gives him high praise, was an auxiliary truss to hold up the trolley wire, that was automatically raised and lowered when the bridge was opened and closed. Although the bridge was only supposed to be used a few months, so substantially and skillfully had it been erected that it was operated for two years without the slightest mishap. The jacknife span of this bridge could be opened and closed in four minutes. The advantages of this bridge stood out in marked relief in comparison to the bridge, a temporary wagon affair, that was built along side of it—the wagon bridge requiring thirty minutes to open to allow boats to pass through the draw and an equal number of minutes to close, so that traffic was tied-up on it, when boats passed, for nearly an hour.
Mr. Schreiber's skill now proved, he was next assigned to design and construct the Plank Road Shops (now known as the Newark shops) at Newark. Many of the features of equipment in these shops, including the arrangement of buildings with the transfer table, have since been incorporated in other railway properties, Mr. Schreiber, having been the first to introduce the innovations. Since 1906 Mr. Schreiber has been Engineer of Maintenance of Way and Chief Engineer of the Public Service Company.
Over a period of sixteen years he has had charge of design and construction of many improvements for the Public Service. Among the important operations he has supervised are car houses, bridges, ferry slips, ferry houses, sand dredging and stone crushing plants and commercial buildings throughout the State, representing millions of dollars. Among these are the car houses and car shops in Camden, which buildings are the headquarters of the Southern Division, supervised by Mr. Schreiber; the Hoboken Terminal at Hoboken, arranged so that passengers may take elevated or surface cars, ferries over the Hudson or the Hudson tunnel trains to New York City. One of Mr. Schreiber's most recent achievements and accomplishments has been the new Public Service Terminal at Newark, designed and structurally directed by himself. This consists of a subway and trolley terminal and office building combined. In order to serve ship building and munitions plants, the Public Service Corporation made extensions at Newark, Camden and Gloucester City, the engineering and construction details having been worked out by Mr. Schreiber. One of the most important auxiliary posts he has ever held with the Corporation has been that of member of the committee which reported to the Public Service on the proposed vehicular tunnels under the Hudson River. As manager of the Southern Division of the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey, Mr. Schreiber has charge of all trolley and bus lines south of Trenton. The duties of this office he performs ably, besides the duties of his positions as Engineer of Maintenance of Way and Chief Engineer of the Corporation.
A man of Mr. Schreiber's ability and successes could not remain in obscurity long. In the profession of railway engineering he is a leader. The citizens of Camden, realizing how good an engineer was among them, placed him on the Camden City Planning Commission, while at the other end of the State, Jersey City appointed him chairman of the Board of Engineers of the Jersey City Development Plan Commission. He was elected president of the American Railway Engineering Association, and has served on many committees of the association.
He is a member of the American Engineering Standards Committee, of the American Society of Civil Engineers, of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the American Society for Testing Material, and the National Electric Light Association. He is at present on the electrical committee of the American Railway Engineering Association, and he is a representative of this association in the Electrical Committee of the National Fire Protective Association. He also holds memberships in the New York Engineers' Club, the Transportation Club, the New York Railroad Club, the Essex County Country Club of West Orange; the South Orange Field Club, the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity of Ohio State University; the Camden Chamber of Commerce, the Camden Club, and the Tavistock Country Club.
The combining of bus transportation and street car transportation into one system by the Public Service Corporation, one of the greatest experiments of its kind in the United States, and which has permitted the establishment and maintenance of the five-cent base fare which gives Camden and the sister communities an advantage over most cities in the United States, is an experiment that is being closely watched by transportation experts of the United States. The plan, inaugurated by Mr. Schreiber, includes the following, graphically, though not completely outlined:
1. The coordination of busses and trolleys on the five-cent local fare (one means of transportation supplementing the other).
2. Busses as feeders for the trolleys.
3. The substituting of busses for trolleys in emergencies and regularly.
4. Busses and trolleys on the same lines. Under Mr. Schreiber's plan the corporation is now using as many busses as trolleys, and both are greatly increased in number over previous years.
Mr. Schreiber is married, and he lives in Parkside.
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