In comments filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) said the STB’s efforts to create a method for rate challenges in smaller cases were laudable, but the proposed approaches would not achieve their goal. The process would be of little use to the vast majority of shippers, said NITL, due to the limited ability to qualify and the cost and uncertainty of the outcome.
“The Board’s proposal not only fails to provide access, but in fact drastically limits a shipper’s access to a small rate case proceeding while making the process complex, uncertain, expensive and time consuming,” said the NITL comment.
NITL joined 33 other interested parties in commenting on Ex Parte No. 646 (Sub-No. 1) Rail Rate Challenges in Small Cases.
Shippers need an effective, simple and expeditious method for resolving smaller rate disputes, NITL told the STB. The Congressional mandate to the STB calls for the Board to establish a simplified and expedited method for determining the reasonableness of challenged rail rates.
As proposed, said NITL, the Simplified SAC proceeding would take 18 months for a decision. This is too long for non-coal cases, the League’s comment continued. Any rate dispute process that takes more than six months to resolve would be useless to the vast majority of shippers, it said.
In the trade off between simplicity and accuracy, the League acknowledged some accuracy would be sacrificed, but the Board failed to show that it had made rational, fair and non-arbitrary trade offs between simplicity and accuracy.
The League also questioned the eligibility proposals under the proposal, calling the eligibility standards for small, medium and large cases “utterly unrealistic.”