Re: "want to buy some pork bellies?" FastLane (May 2007)
Your article on the dangers of treating transportation service as a commodity was interesting, and it reminded me of an experiment that took place a while back. Several years ago, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad tried to create a market for unit train loading slots for coal in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. The idea did not catch on, the service was underutilized, and eventually the program was dropped.
In retrospect, however, it appears that the only real flaw in the idea was that it was ahead of its time. Had this innovative program been introduced into the marketplace two years ago, it would have worked due to capacity constraints on the railroads and the inability of many utilities to purchase the coal they needed. I wonder if capacity constraints, of which there are many today, may ultimately make marketing some forms of transportation as a commodity a more viable idea. I'm certainly not arguing with your conclusion at all; I enjoyed the article very much. It just reminded me of the BNSF's attempt to make a commodity out of transportation over a portion of its system, and I wanted to share the story with you.
Shade May, Escalation Consultants Inc.