As a member of the Rail Customer Coalition (RCC), IWLA has joined in urging the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations to increase funding for the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB). The letter points to severe resource constraints as the culprit of a five-year delay in key proceedings.
The letter also notes the recent passage of the Surface Board Reauthorization Act of 2015 in December and the “and new responsibilities the Board will now assume, including the addition of two new Board members, it is imperative that this small but important agency is funded at least to the very modest levels authorized under the new law.” Read the letter.
The RCC also sent a letter to the STB, asking for consideration of the following recommendations (as stated in the letter):
- Rail customer viewpoints should be included in the required report on rate case methodologies.
- The Board should complete work on key proceedings, including a rulemaking to provide shippers with access to competitive switching.
- The Board should prioritize adherence to the new rate review timeline requirements.
- The STB should appropriately utilize its authority to initiate investigations into railroad practices that impact rail shippers on a national or regional scale, and order remedies based on the result of these investigations.
- The Board should move quickly to promulgate regulations for the expansion of existing STB arbitration capabilities.
- The STB should specify how it will implement provisions clarifying that Board members may engage in non-public collaborative discussions, which will help improve Board efficiency immediately.
- For the GAO study of rail transportation contract proposals that contain multiple origin-to-destination movements, the Board should work to educate the GAO on how the bundling of rates into a single proposal can create significant barriers for shippers to bring rate cases to the STB.
Generally, the letter strongly suggests that the STB should partner with RCC on issues and decision making. It also asked the agency to look to RCC for support in becoming an effective regulating body. Read the letter.