Explaining that it seeks "another way to demystify the process," the Surface Transportation Board will begin holding public oral arguments in major cases.
"Hearing from parties directly and having the opportunity to ask them questions will help us make better decisions," said STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III.
The oral arguments will give parties an opportunity to directly address the board. The format will be similar to oral arguments in federal appellate courts, allowing board members to ask questions before making a decision. While the proceedings will be open to the public, only counsel for the parties will be allowed to present argument.
Elliott also plans to overhaul the Board's website, www.stb.dot.gov, to make more information more readily available to stakeholders and the public. "We are doing the public's business and the public should be able to quickly and easily learn what we are doing," Elliott said.
The first scheduled oral argument will be on Oct. 27, in the case of Entergy Arkansas, Inc. and Entergy Services, Inc. v. Union Pacific Railroad Company and Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad Company, Inc., STB Docket No. 42104 and DesertXpress Enterprises, LLC—Petition for Declaratory Order, STB Finance Docket No. 34914.
The Board has also scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 23, but a list of cases to be argued then has not been finalized.
Siemens Transportation Systems has delivered the first two of nine light rail transit cars to Hampton Roads Transit, as the agency prepares to launch “The Tide” light rail service along its 7.4-mile starter line in Norfolk, Va., roughly one year from now.
The Association of American Railroads reported Thursday that total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Oct. 3 was an estimated 29.7 billion ton-miles, off 16.6% from the corresponding week last year.
Railroads originated 277,734 carloads, down 17.2%. All 19 commodity groups lost ground, with declines ranging from 2.7% for chemicals to 53.2% for metallic ores.
Intermodal traffic added up 206,293 trailers and containers, down 15.7%. Container volume fell 10% and trailer volume was off 37%.
Regionally, carload traffic were down 16.4% in the West and 18.3% in the East.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 73,377 carloads, down 7.3% from last year, and 43,724 trailers and containers, down 15.6%. Mexican railroads originated 12,597 carloads, down 0.9%, and 7,593 trailers and containers, down 3.4%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 39 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 13,204,334 carloads, down 18.8% from last year, and 9,139,639 trailers and containers, down 16.7%.