WASHINGTON (Dec. 15, 2016) – More than 50 top executives sent a letter to Vice President-elect Pence inviting the Trump administration to work with them to help fill vacancies at the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and select candidates that are “committed to eliminating outdated rules and overly bureaucratic procedures.”
The signatories to the letter represent some of the nation’s largest customers of freight rail service and come from a variety of industries, including manufacturing, refining and agriculture. In their letter, the companies stress the importance of STB policies on investment decisions in the United States and future economic growth – “In order to fully realize the benefits of a manufacturing renaissance, we must be sure that the STB is comprised of members that will make decisions that are based on current economic realities and founded on free market solutions.”
The STB is charged with resolving freight rail problems and since it was created, the rail industry has changed dramatically. Following massive consolidation, only seven railroads are currently in operation and the four largest railroads are in control of 90 percent of the rail traffic in the U.S. Outdated regulatory protections and overly bureaucratic STB procedures have failed to keep pace with these changes. As a result, freight rail rates have doubled—more than three times the rate of inflation over the past decade—even though the volume of freight carried by the railroads has barely increased. During that same period, rail customers have not seen an improvement in service.
The request comes at an important juncture for the future of the STB as the Board has proven to be ineffective in addressing these long-standing freight rail problems, and the current Commissioners have acknowledged that Board procedures are overly complex and burdensome.
Eliminating regulatory barriers to commerce and improving how the STB operates is in line with the Trump administration’s pro-growth goals and promise to change how Washington operates. The companies stress the only way for this to happen is to ensure that “Board members must be committed to moving the STB forward instead of preserving the status quo.”
THE RAIL CUSTOMER COALITION
The coalition is a large collection of trade associations representing a broad cross section of manufacturing, agricultural, and energy industries with operations and employees throughout the United States, including: