The Interstate Commerce Commission yesterday proposed new rules that pave the way for the elimination of restrictons that now hamper efficiency in trucking operations.
All part of the ICC's implementation of the Motor Carrier Act that was signed into law this summer, the proposed rules are designed to increase competition in the trucking industry, encourage operating economies and fuel savings and encouraging service to small and rural communities.
The agency also set up what can only be described as extremely expedited procedures for handling applications from trucking companies seeking to remove service restrictions from their operating authorities or to expand excessively narrow authorities.
The agency was mandated by Congress to act on restriction-removal applications 120 days after their receipt. Under its proposed rules, the commission sets up what appears to be a speedier timetable. It said it would act on these request based on the applications and comments received, with no oral hearings.
All applications to remove restrictions will be published in the Federal Register in the form of a tentative decision granting the authority requested, under the proposed rules. If no comments are filed, the application will stand granted at the close of the 20th day after the due date for the filing of comments.
These procedures are to apply to trucking companies seeking to:
Expand the commodities they haul if they currently handle only named commodities or a limited class of commodities, rather than having general authority.
Eliminate restrictions that bar them from stopping at intermediate points.
Get roundtrip authority when they currently are permitted to offer service only in one direction, although the expedited procedures will only apply when they are seeking return for the same commodities.
Expand "narrow" authority. (The commission said anything less than a county is considered narrow.)
Eliminate other restrictions which waste fuel or are inefficient, such as restrictions which require the use of specific types of equipment or impose size and weight limitations on specified commodities or a class of commodities.
Another of the new rules would eliminate "gateway restrictions" that require truckers to operate through certain cities which often prohibited them from using the most direct routes. The gateway restrictions, in existence for the past 50 years, came about because the ICC allowed the trucking companies to expand their service areas by connecting new routes on the ends of existing routes, requiring them always to pass through those gateways.
The new rules also would abandon the circuitous routing limitations often placed on one trucking company in the past to protect the business of another. Under the ICC's proposal, the trucking company with such limitations would be permitted to use any available routing to serve any authorized points. However, the ICC said it would retain the requirement that a company maintain service to all authorized service points.