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Surface Transportation Board

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Surface Transportation Board
Seal of the Surface Transportation Board
Board overview
FormedJanuary 1, 1996
Preceding Board
JurisdictionUnited States Government
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Board executives
  • Ann D. Begeman, Chairman
  • Patrick Fuchs, Vice Chairman
Parent departmentUnited States Department of Transportation
Key document

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) of the United States is a federal, bipartisan, independent adjudicatory board. The STB was established in 1996 to assume some of the regulatory functions that had been administered by the Interstate Commerce Commission when the ICC was abolished. Other ICC regulatory functions were either eliminated or transferred to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics within DOT.

The STB has broad economic regulatory oversight of railroads, including rates, service, the construction, acquisition and abandonment of rail lines, carrier mergers and interchange of traffic among carriers. The STB also has oversight of pipeline carriers, intercity bus carriers, moving van companies, trucking companies involved in collective activities and water carriers engaged in non-contiguous domestic trade. The Board has wide discretion, through its exemption authority from federal, state and local laws, to tailor its regulatory activities to meet the nation's changing transportation needs.

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  • ✪ Securing Surface Transportation
  • ✪ Hearing: Bumper to Bumper: The Need for a National Surface Transportation... (EventID=109740)
  • ✪ Science - Transportation in plants -xylem, phloem, transpiration pull - English


Reports are just coming in of an explosion at Liverpool Street Station here in London. The blast that ripped through Madrid's early morning commuter train sent blood and metal flying. Ambulances rushed more than a thousand wounded to city hospitals and the Government set up centers for people to identify the bodies of missing love ones. This horror struck again when a bomb exploded on a rush hour subway train near the European Union Headquarters. [Music] Since 2001 more than 1,900 attacks have been carried out against public transportation systems globally resulting in 4,000 deaths, 14,000 injuries. The attacks on metro stations, on rails I know what would happen God forbid if what we see happening in European nation, after European nation were to happen here in the United States. I don't want to be able to have people say I told you so. We need to get the job done and protect surface transportation. We are going to start seeing more attacks or attempted attacks on mass transit rail systems. It's too attractive a target for terrorist, because it's an opportunity to inflict a lot of casualties in spaces where people tend to gather in dense crowds and it's also an opportunity to inflict damage on critical infrastructure. If you look at the security posture that we have in place now, it's not sufficient. Because we are not performing the sort of detailed screening that takes place in aviation environments. Mass transit security is a global problem. We are no less vulnerable here than they are overseas. These are environments where you have a very high level of foot traffic. You have an unstructured crowd with many points of entry that are scattered over a large area. You have an environment that can readily bring in bags or heavy coats, many things to conceal a potentially dangerous item. This highlights the importance of developing tools that can assist the security staff on site, to ensure our systems stay as secure as possible. Our task is clear, we need a way to safely detect explosive threats on people and in their bags. and we have to do this without physically searching them or impacting their flow through the transit system. Currently there are no solutions to solve this challenging problem and this is why the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate has a program to mitigate the explosive threat to surface transportation. The surface transportation explosive threat detection program is working in collaboration with the surface transportation system end users and our stakeholders, as well as our partners at John Hopkin's applied physics laboratory and MIT Lincoln labs to close the surface transportation security gap through innovative technologies that are designed to work together and provide a layered approach to security throughout the transportation system. Basically we are taking a curb to platform approach to security. Curb to platform sensing is the idea that we are going to distribute sensors at various points from the parameter of the facility to the platform. So from the time you step out of the cab to the time you get on a train or a bus, there are sensors that are keeping track of subjects in the system. This does a few things for us. First, it allow us to get multiple looks of a subject for better detection. Second, it makes it more difficult for a subject to evade the sensing systems. If a subject knew that all of our sensors were say only at the front door of a facility than he knows, he only needs to defeat the sensors at that spot. And finally, it recognizes that there are many security environments that we must protect in a mass transit system. Here at S&T were developing a number of tools, among them a video algorithm capable of automatically detecting bags left behind and tagging individuals who left those bags. Were also developing a suite of video forensic tools that allow video surveillance systems to work more effectively and efficiently. Today we are at New Carrollton Metro Station, we are testing some of our camera algorithms by placing bags in a variety of locations. If you have a fairly well commercial algorithm that alerts maybe only 60 times a hour, once a minute. When you multiply that by the 50,000 or so video camera in a mass transit system the number of false alerts is actually quite overwhelming. It's inconceivable that even a fully staffed operation center is going to be able to field that many events over a course of a day. We are looking at a false alert rate that's appreciably lower than whats commercially available and basically baked into the infrastructure and the video analytics and the video management systems that presently exist. The FOVEA program allows us to be able to identify a package that's been left behind and then to figure out who left it behind and then start to track that person and to determine whether or not this is a threatful situation and then to deploy proper resources to keep the people safe. So we are helping make existing video surveillance systems more efficient, more effective by giving users tools to help them get through video faster. One of the tools within FOVEA is a tool that we call "Jump Back," and it let's a user highlight an abandoned object, simply draw a box around it and Jump Back will go back to when that object first appeared. And from there the user can investigate what are the circumstances around it. So for instance it's jumped back to when this person left the bag. We can actually begin to bookmark the person in the video and follow them as they move throughout the station. So here we are actually piecing together information from different video cameras. Now once a user actually follows the person throughout the station and understands where they come from and where they have gone to they can then reconstruct that video and stitch all of those pieces together into one final video. So one task that often takes a really long, long time is just simply reviewing videos. So imagine you need to review 12 hours of video from the night before. You can watch it and fast forward, but we found that you can only speed that up by a factor of 10 before things start flying by too fast. So we developed a tool called "Summarization." The video Summarization functionality in FOVEA is a very important tool for us. What allows us to scan hours on hours of video in just a short period of time. We had a incident here at Amtrack where it took us two full man days to identify exactly what happened. When we ran it through the tool, was able to do it in just a matter of hours. FOVEA acts as a force multiplier. The analytics is just a simple, great way to leverage the infrastructure and the man power to get the security that we require and FOVEA allows me to do that. We're also investing in stand-off threat detection systems using complimentary parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. These systems will serve as a key component of the layered screening concept. This is the Centimeter Wave Sensor that we are developing here at APL as apart of our layered threat detection approach. These would be incorporated into the walls, you'd be going down the hallway. People can just walk in front of of this and this images them, but at such a blurry level, that most people would not consider this to be particularly invasive. It's only the very large things. That you know, "Hey that looks like a rifle, that looks like an explosive." So then an operator will see the people walking by the array and the large false colored, red blob that says, "he is concealing something." The power and the frequencies we're mitting are the same as put out by your Wi-Fi. This will not harm you in any way, these are lower than exposures that you would get from your own cell phone. Our concept is you use a low cost system like a Centimeter Wave system as the initial layer of defense, identifying potential items of interest. Then we can use the Millimeter Wave system as our next layer, providing a more detailed view of potential threat items. Both layers working in a safe way that maintains the traveling publics privacy. This system is a prototype stand off of microwave imager. Its a panel that's placed on a wall or in a corridor or perhaps on the ceiling. The idea here is if you come in proximity of the unit with a concealed bomb, a rifle, it's going to be able to see it. Microwave sensing can compliment FOVEA by proving information that FOVEA doesn't have. So you can image a scenario, where FOVEA alerts us to the fact that somebodies dropped a bag and walked away. That's all we know. We don't now if the bags empty or if we need to call in a bomb tech to check things out. Microwave sensing can tell us if the bags empty or if its full of metal or perhaps if it has some other suspicious item inside. That will allow us to tailor our response to save resources, save time and keep everybody safe. A passenger enters a subway system, there's a microwave scanner that's able to detect something suspicious inside that persons bag. The system then will queue through video surveillance an Italian track process where that person is tracked through multiple cameras in order to gather additional observations through other scanners then all that information is assembled and entered into a model that can decide whether there's enough evidence to queue a security personnel to intervene. So the layer sensing architecture would be a system that's constantly updating the risk level that it observes. So from the moment somebody steps into a facility and starts collecting observations, it's going to have some assessment of what it thinks the risk level is. But as that person proceeds through the subway system, additional observations are collected. The system is going to update that risk level. Because we can design panels in different shapes and sizes, that gives us the opportunity to place them on walls near the entry way or near the subway platforms. We can place it on poles, in some cases on ceilings. We can even potentially integrate it into the fare gates that people walk through as they enter the system. Were developing this technology for use in the surface transportation environment, because it's our most difficult security challenge. However we'll also have applications to other parts of the Homeland Security critical infrastructure and can provide enhanced security at airports at bus and ferry terminals. It can also be used to monitor events that take place at stadiums, convention centers, schools and to enhance security where we have unstructured crowds. The mass transit environment presents daunting security challenges and we have very well-trained and dedicated law enforcement and security staff on-site, however they can't be at all places at all times and that's why it's critical that we develop tools like this, that can act as a critical that we develop tools like this, that can act as a force multiplier and queue suspicious situations and help them ensure security in our mass transit facilities. The reduction in time is what I'm looking forward to. What used to take us 20 hours, takes us 10 minutes and then your getting real time information. So imagine that a Officer is a scene, they want to know who they should be looking for. This system allows us to tell them that almost instantaneously. Amtrack has a very good relationship with S&T. We volunteer to be a test bed for the video surveillance analytics technology their testing and we're very proud to do it. We're very satisfied and happy with the performance of it so far and we will be rolling this technology out to our larger stations for a more detailed pilot, here shortly in the future. This operational environment is by far the most challenging from an explosive threat detection standpoint and a focused long-term investment as well as a coordinated program working with TSA and our surface transportation stakeholders, will allow us to continue to make the breakthroughs we need in achieving our goal of better protecting the nations surface transportation systems and the travelling public. The treat isn't gone, people are plotting right now! Right now against this country. [Music]


Performance and policy goals

The Board provides a forum for the resolution of surface-transportation disputes and other matters within its jurisdiction. It has the authority to limit or remove regulatory requirements where appropriate.[1]

Organizational structure and current members

The Board is composed of five members nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate for five-year terms. The Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act expanded the Board from three to five members in 2015.[2]

The Board's chairman is designated by the President from among the members. As its chief executive, the chairman coordinates and organizes the agency's work and acts as its representative in legislative matters and in relations with other governmental bodies. Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III was nominated to the Surface Transportation Board by President Barack Obama on January 13, 2015, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 22, 2015, and was sworn in as the Board's chairman on June 26, 2015, for a term of office expiring December 31, 2018. Chairman Elliott is in his second term at the Board, having previously served as the agency's chairman from August 13, 2009, until December 31, 2014.

The vice chairman represents the Board and assumes the chairman's duties as appropriate. Additionally, the vice chairman oversees matters involving the admission, discipline, and disbarment of non-attorney Board practitioners. Deb Miller was sworn in on April 28, 2014, as a Member of the Board for a term of office expiring on December 31, 2017, following her September 25, 2013, nomination to the Board by President Obama and her confirmation by the United States Senate on April 9, 2014. She was designated vice chairman (May 27, 2014 – December 31, 2014); served as acting chairman (January 1, 2015 – June 26, 2015); and was again designated vice chairman on January 7, 2016, in the agency's annual rotation of the vice chairmanship.

Ann D. Begeman was sworn in May 2, 2011, as a member of the Board. She currently serves as chairperson.[3]

Martin J. Oberman was confirmed to the Board on January 3, 2019, by a voice vote in the United States Senate.[3]

Patrick Fuchs was confirmed to the Board on January 2, 2019, by a voice vote in the United States Senate. He currently serves as vice-chairperson.[3]

Assisting the Board in carrying out its responsibilities is a staff of 150 with experience in economics, law, accounting, transportation analysis, finance and administration.[citation needed]


Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance

The Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance serves as the agency's principal point of contact with Congress, state and local governments, the media, industry stakeholders and the general public. This office includes the Rail Customer and Public Assistance Program, where Board staff solves problems in ways ranging from a simple answer to a telephone inquiry to lengthy informal dispute resolution efforts between railroads and shippers.[4]

Office of Economics

The Office of Economics analyzes rate cases, conducts economic and financial analyses of the railroad industry, and audits Class I railroads.

Office of Economics, Environmental Analysis and Administration

The Office of Economics, Environmental Analysis and Administration is responsible for undertaking environmental reviews of proposed STB actions in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws and making environmental recommendations to the STB.

Office of the Managing Director

The Office of the Managing Director handles administrative matters such as personnel, budget and information technology.

Office of Proceedings

The Office of Proceedings (OP) is the office with primary responsibility for developing the public record in formal cases (or proceedings) filed with the STB, making recommendations regarding the resolution of issues presented in those cases, and preparing the decisions issued by the Board.

The Office of Proceedings is a legal office, consisting almost entirely of attorneys and paralegal specialists, responsible for the majority of the cases at the STB. The office applies the Interstate Commerce Act, as amended by the ICC Termination Act of 1995, as well as the Board's own regulations.[5] In carrying out its responsibilities, the Office of Proceedings obtains and applies any necessary input from economic, financial, operational, environmental, and other legal staff experts throughout the agency.

The Office of Proceedings includes a clearance unit responsible for tabulating votes on STB cases and recording the official outcome of those votes, and a recordations unit that enters data about a filing's primary and secondary documents into the STB Recordations database, which is accessible to the public on the STB web site.

Office of General Counsel

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) responds to questions on a variety of legal issues. However, its primary mission is two-fold: to defend the STB's decisions in court and to assess the defensibility of agency decisions that might be challenged in court. Unlike most Federal agencies, the STB has independent litigating authority (49 U.S.C. § 703(d)). Under the Hobbs Act, when an STB order or decision is challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals, both the STB (represented by the agency's own attorneys) and the United States (represented by U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys) must be named as "respondents" (defendants), and both have authority to appear in court in such cases.[6] STB and DOJ attorneys, in most cases, jointly defend the agency's decisions, with the STB's attorneys preparing written briefs (in consultation with DOJ attorneys) and presenting oral arguments on behalf of the Federal Government.

In performing defensibility assessments, OGC attorneys meet with other STB staff to discuss cases before draft decisions are prepared. Defensibility assessments are key to issuing sound decisions that are less likely to be challenged and, if challenged, are more likely to be upheld.


  1. ^ "Overview". Surface Transportation Board. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "Performance and Accountability, FY 2016" (PDF). Surface Transportation Board. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Surface Transportation Board".
  4. ^ "Rail Customer and Public Assistance program". Archived from the original on March 15, 2016.
  5. ^ STB regulations are found at Title 49, parts 1000 to 1332 of the Code of Federal Regulations. ("Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-04-20. Retrieved 2004-05-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)).
  6. ^ See 28 U.S.C. § 2323.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 December 2019, at 21:14
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