On November 29, 2019, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to modify the sampling procedure for its annual Carload Waybill Sample (CWS).
After holding informal meetings throughout the country in 2018, the RRTF issued its recommendations in a report released in April 2019. Among other recommendations, the RRTF report recommended that the board adjust the sampling rates for its Waybill Sample in order to yield a more robust sample.
CWS data is used in a variety of contexts, such as exemption decisions, stratification reports, traffic volume and rate studies, and certain rate cases. It's used in various ways that are relevant to agricultural shippers — namely, to support STB’s rate and service cases, as well as agricultural transportation research from many sources.
The current waybill sampling rates vary based on the number of carloads on a railroad’s waybill. The Board is proposing to simplify the sampling rates for non-intermodal carload shipments and to specify separate sampling strata and rates for intermodal shipments.
The proposed reporting changes would create a more robust Waybill Sample that would assist the board in its decision-making and analyses as well as other users of the data, without creating an undue burden on railroads.
In the NPRM, STB proposes to modify the current sampling rates to improve coverage further. Comments are due by January 28, 2020.