Sunday, December 4, 2016

The economics of hauling trash to a landfilll

Marquita Brown | The Roanoke Times
Towns in the Roanoke, VA area used a daily Norfolk Southern train to haul their trash 33 miles to a landfill. But the 25-year contract expires in 2018. Meanwhile, the trash authority added another town and increased the haulage volume by 50%. They expect NS to haul the additional trash for free. For the remainder of this contract, they were willing to run a second train. But for the next contract they want more money since they are moving more carloads.
I assume the additional town is paying for trash pickup and disposal. So why does the trash authority feel that they don't need to use their additional revenue stream to help pay for hauling the additional trash?

The authority has determined that if they build a private road to honor their agreement to keep trucks off public roads, it would be cheaper to use trucks.  NS did not provide a train a couple of days during these contract conflicts. "Both days, he said, the authority had to turn to a trucking contractor to haul the trash. Six trucks made the trip on Wednesday, and nine on Friday." This indicates to me how much capacity the trucking industry has and how fluid/responsive they are. Maybe NS made the mistake of trying to "stick it to them" after the road construction season was over. I wonder if there would have been spare trucking capacity during the summer. Also, will trucking still be cheaper after the price of diesel fuel goes back up?

Another interesting tidbit from the article is that switching from gondola cars to trash containers would save money. I wonder why. Is it because the trash is pressed into the trash containers more densely and less carloads need to be hauled? Or is it the labor of covering the gondolas?

[The Roanoke Times]

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