7.4 The social and economic impact of weather information: a case study of surface transportation industries

Wednesday, 12 January 2000: 3:30 PM
Christopher R. Adams, CIRA/Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO; and D. J. Berri

This is a study of the surface transportation sector to document the use and value of weather information on the daily operations of various companies. We conducted a random stratified sample survey of 40 motor carrier firms of various sizes and four major railroad companies. We asked a series of in-depth questions of each firm. Our focus was to determine the extent of use and benefits of weather information in their operations. We asked questions in six general areas: • What weather conditions affected their company operations? • How did the types of weather impact company operations? • What weather information and forecasts did the companies used? • How the company acquired information about weather? • How was the acquired information used in company operations? and • What were the perceived benefits of weather forecasts and information for company operations?

We present the key findings and recommendations from this initial study of surface transportation industries. At the onset of this study, we believed that weather information was of significant value to two surface transportation industries. Although the presented evidence supports this view with respect to the railroad industry, our findings cast some doubt upon the validity of this conclusion for the motor carrier industry. Our findings compare and contrast the two surface transportation industries. We developed a series of primary conclusions reached by this research. Our findings provide insight into how motor carrier firms and railroad companies use and value weather information.

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