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With reference to future proceedings in the case the Commission determined as follows:
It was conclusively determined by the decision of the United States Supreme Court (Interstate Commerce Commission v. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company et al., 186 U. S., 320) that the addition of the $2 terminal charge in Chicago on live stock from territory to which the above-mentioned reduced through rate applied was not illegal, and it is now thereupon held that any subsequent advance in rates from that territory must be a matter for independent inquiry in a new proceeding.
No estoppel arises out of the decree of the Supreme Court in this matter with reference to further proceeding and investigation by the Commission as to the legality of the terminal charge for the future. The Commission is not functus officio, for the court expressly states that the Commission still has a duty to perform as to that branch of the proceeding, and the mere use by the Supreme Court in its decree of the word "commencing” with reference to further proceedings is not construed to require the formal institution of an entirely new proceeding. The case will therefore stand reopened for further investigation and order, with leave to complainant and intervener to show to what territory the through-rate reduction of 1896 applied, and if it appears that there was a territory to which such reduction did not apply and from which no reduction has been made, defendants will be allowed to show, since conditions may have changed subsequent to the making of the original order, that the through rate from that territory is reasonable and just notwithstanding the addition of the terminal charge of $2 per car in Chicago.
While all carriers participating in the through rate will be proper parties, they are not necessary parties, since the present defendants, the carriers entering Chicago, retain the terminal charge entirely to their own use.
PUBLICATION AND FILING OF RATE SCHEDULES-SIMPLIFICATION OF TARIFFS-SPECIFICATICN OF ROUTES-AUTHORIZATION OF JOINT TARIFFS.
Among the very important provisions of the act to regulate commerce is that which requires common carriers to file with the Commission copies of their schedules of rates, fares, and charges applicable to interstate traffic. By the filing of these schedules the Commission is informed as to the prevailing rates of transportation on all interstate traffic throughout the country and the changes in such rates. The tariffs so filed are an invaluable aid to the Commission in the determination of the merits of the numerous complaints brought before it alleging discrimination, excessive rates, and other charges of like character. By their use comparison can be made of the rates complained of with the rates 'on like traffic between the points in controversy since April, 1887, and also with the rates on the same kind of traffic between other similarly situated points for the same period.
All tariffs filed under the provisions of the statute have been care: fully preserved, and without doubt form the most complete record of the kind in existence. The number of schedules filed since the organization of the Commission, April 5, 1887, is 2,358,960, the annual average being about 130,000. This number includes both freight and passenger tariffs, supplements and amendments thereto, classifications, and all other issues which apply in connection with the tariffs. Many of these tariffs are very voluminous, consisting of several hundred pages of rates, rules, and other printed matter, while many others consist of only a single sheet. On account of the great number of tariffs filed it is necessary that the utmost care be exercised in seeing that they are properly placed in the files and in indexing the application of the rates contained therein; otherwise they would be of comparatively little use, as it would be practically impossible to find the rates on given articles between given points. More than a third of the clerical force of the Commission is employed upon this work of filing, indexing, and preparing statements of rates for the Commission, and also for shippers and others in compliance with numerous requests for such information.
Though there has been marked improvement in the construction and printing of rate schedules since the organization of the Commission, the tariffs now published and filed still contain numerous defects, among the most important of which is lack of simplicity and clearness. In fact, it may be said that the greatest need at the present time in connection with the preparation and arrangement of tariffs is in the direction of simplification. In the work of the clerical force in indexing the application of the tariffs, and also in ascertaining the rates therefrom, great difficulty is frequently encountered, owing to the extremely complicated and imperfect arrangement of many tariffs, it being often the case that it is impossible to determine the intended application in certain respects. There is no doubt that the agents of the carriers experience similar difficulty in endeavoring to determine the rates which should apply on traffic offered for shipment, and that to this cause is largely due the great number of errors made in assessing the charges upon freight. It would appear to be no very difficult matter to so construct and arrange a tariff as to leave no doubt in the mind of any one of fair intelligence as to the rates intended to be provided therein.
While it is quite generally admitted by traffic officials that the tariffs as published are frequently lacking in the simplicity and clearness
H. Doc. 146, 58–3
which the law contemplates, but little effort seems to be made to bring about an improvement in this respect. These complicated and often ambiguous schedules appear to be largely the result of efforts on the part of carriers to save expense in the preparation and printing of their tariffs. In its Sixteenth Annual Report, in discussing this subject, the Commission said:
The cost of publishing tariffs constitutes quite an item of expense in conducting the business of a railroad, and it appears that complicated tariffs and those which have been excessively amended, such as alluded to above, are the result in most cases of efforts to save expense in clerical labor and printing. It appears probable that the clerical force employed in the rate and tariff departments of most carriers is inadequate to perform the amount of work required in a careful and proper manner, the consequence being that various devices are resorted to for the purpose of lessening the work, which is usually accomplished at the expense of simplicity and clearness. - *
The claim is often made by carriers that shippers never make any use of the tariffs which are required by law to be posted in their stations. This is no doubt true, and it is possible that it might also be the case if the tariffs were in such form as to be readily comprehended; but under present conditions it is certainly not surprising that shippers do not attempt to determine the rates for themselves.
As the rate schedules form the basis from which railroad revenues are derived, they are of the greatest importance, and it seems apparent that the exercise of very rigid economy with respect to preparation and publication of same is most unwise. It seems equally apparent that a liberal policy in regard to this essential matter, thereby securing the most efficient clerical force for the preparation of the tari and the printing of same in such form as to be readily comprehended by anyone of fair intelligence, would be the wisest policy, as the tendency of such a policy would be to save loss of time and prevent errors on the part of agents, thereby avoiding to a great extent the occurrence of overcharges and undercharges on freight.
What is said above is intended to show that the exercise of a liberal policy in connection with the preparation and publication of rate schedules is the wisest course from the carrier's standpoint, but it should be borne in mind that the law requires these schedules to be printed in such form as to be plain and comprehensive to the ordinary shipper, and it is therefore the duty of all carriers to see that their tariffs are so published, regardless of whether such a course would result in gain or in some additional expense.
There has been no appreciable improvement in tariffs in the respect referred to since the above was written.
An important defect in many joint tariffs is the failure to specify the route by which the rates contained therein will apply; and while there has been some improvement in this respect in recent years, there is still quite a large proportion of such tariffs which fail to indicate the routing, and in this matter also the increased expense appears to be the chief obstacle to the showing of this important information in the tariffs, the claim being made by carriers that to specify the routing of the traffic in all joint tariffs would be burdensome. It is noticed, however, that this information is often omitted in cases where if included it would add practically nothing to the cost of the tariff. Joint tariffs as now published usually show the names of the participating roads, and where the tariff is a simple one, with only a few lines named as parties, this indicates to a certain extent the routing; but where a tariff names rates from and to a large number of points, and the number of carriers named as parties is also large, in the absence of specific information as to routing it is impossible for the Commission to determine which rates each of the parties so named participate in. The Commission is quite often called upon to state the rates as published and filed on certain commodities between given points by a specified route. It is usually an easy matter to state the rates, but it frequently happens that it can not be stated with any degree of certainty whether such rates apply over the particular route mentioned.
The publication of routes has not heretofore been required by definite order, for the reason that it has been represented to the Commission that such an order would in some cases prove burdensome. It is believed, however, that such instances are comparatively rare. The opinion of the Commission “In the Matter of the Form and Contents of Rate Schedules, and the Authority for Making and Filing Joint Tariffs," dated September 8, 1894, contains the following:
The failure to apprise the public and the Commission, by announcement upon the printed schedules or otherwise, of the names of participating carriers responsible for the rates named in joint tariffs, and the routes by which traffic may be consigned at those rates, occasions much uncertainty and confusion and constitutes a considerable obstacle to the enforcement of the statute. This defect in the form of published tariffs should be corrected to the fullest practicable extent. It is extremely desirable that joint schedules applied to the traffic of connecting lines should definitely name all the participating roads and indicate the various routes by which they undertake to afford transportation at designated rates. Theoretically, at least, such a disclosure is necessary to a complete statutory joint tariff. If this information is withheld, the printed schedule must in every case be open to some degree of criticism; it omits something which apparently ought to be stated and leaves to inference or conjecture that which should be distinctly announced.
In the case of joint tariffs which name rates between a small number of points and to which only a few roads are named as parties there appears to be no sufficient reason why the routes over which the rates named apply should not be published in full in the tariffs; it can not be claimed that the omission of this information in such cases is on account of the increased expense which would result from its inclusion, as the additional cost would be practically nothing. In the case of very voluminous tariffs the publication of routes might be made in a separate issue and reference thereto made (by number) upon each tariff in connection with which it applies. In this way the size and contents of the tariffs would not be increased and the expense of publication of routes with each new issue would be avoided, and the same routing circular could no doubt be made to apply in connection with all tariffs which named rates between the same points. As there are probably few changes in established routes the same routing circular could, with occasional modifications, remain in force for years, regardless of the changes in rates. The same principle is applied in the publication of classifications. The Commission realizes that it would be burdensome to publish the classification in full in each tariff of class rates, and that it would also add unnecessarily to the bulk of the tariffs; but by the method of publishing the classification separately and connecting it by specific reference with the class tariffs, thus making it a part thereof, the burden is removed.
We come, now, to the consideration of a subject to which the Commission has given much attention in an endeavor to arrive at a satisfactory solution, namely, a practical method for securing the proper authorization of joint tariffs, one which will accomplish the object sought and at the same time not be unduly burdensome to the carrier.
The act to regulate commerce, as originally passed by Congress February 4, 1887, contained no provision relating to joint rates, the only rates provided for being the individual or local rates of each carrier. This defect was remedied by amendment March 2, 1889, the amended act providing as follows:
And in cases where passengers and freight pass over continuous lines or routes operated by more than one common carrier, and the several common carriers operating such lines or routes establish joint tariffs of rates or fares or charges for such continuous lines or routes, copies of such joint tariffs shall also, in like manner, be filed with said Commission.
It also provides that such joint rates, fares, and charges shall be made public by common carriers when directed by the Commission, in so far as may, in the judgment of the Commission, be deemed practicable, and it further provides that no changes shall be made in such joint rates except after ten days' notice to the Commission in cases of advances and three days' in cases of reductions.
At the same time (March 2, 1889) the following provision was also inserted in section 6 of the act:
The Commission may determine and prescribe the form in which the schedules required by this section to be kept open to public inspection shall be prepared and arranged, and may change the form from time to time as shall be found expedient.
As will be seen, the statute does not provide as to the manner in which such joint rates shall be established, but empowers the Commission to determine and prescribe the form and manner in which tariffs shall be prepared. In the case of local rates, the only authorization necessary is the publication and filing of the rates by the carrier over whose line they apply; and in the case of through rates made by combination of locals, no authorization is necessary, as the rates which are combined to form the through rate have been previously authorized by the several carriers by the filing thereof; but in the case of a joint rate each of the carriers over whose line the traffic passes receives something different from its local rate, the proportion received by each carrier, except in rare instances, being less than its