The swearing in of two new members of the Surface Transportation Board in the midst of such a busy news season may not have made headlines, but it drew praise from rail shippers.
With the addition of Robert Primus and Michelle P. Schultz, who were confirmed by the Senate on Nov. 18, the STB has finally reached its full complement of five board members.
The five-member board could be short lived. Chairman Ann Begeman’s current term (she is serving her second) will end on Dec. 31. By law, she may stay in that post for another year, unless a replacement is named or she chooses to resign.
Primus is a Democrat who has served on the staffs of lawmakers in the Senate and the House. Schultz is a Republican who has served as an attorney for SEPTA, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority mass transit agency for the Phildelphia area. (AA, 7-31-20, P. 4)..
“The freight rail industry welcomes Michelle Schultz and Robert Primus to their new roles and looks forward to working with them to meet our shared goal of guaranteeing that railroads can deliver for shippers and the U.S. economy,” commented Association of American Railroads President Ian Jefferies.
Shelley Sahling-Zart, president of the Freight Rail Customer Alliance, said, “We sincerely thank the White House, Senate Commerce Committee and the full Senate for seeing these two nominations through the process.”
Steve DeHaan, president of the International Warehouse Logistics Association, also remarked, “With the board now at full strength, we look forward to resolution of many of the challenges facing rail shippers.”
Taking note of controversies ahead, he pointed out, “The US economy is dependent on a strong rail freight network, but it’s time to get the pendulum to swing back and give the shippers a break from unreasonable demurrage charges and rates.”