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American Shipper

SoCal ports truck plan licensing guidelines revealed

SoCal ports truck plan licensing guidelines revealed

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are holding fast to their Jan. 1 start date for a controversial $1.8 billion truck re-regulation plan that would determine who would and wouldn’t be allowed to operate a truck within the two ports.

   The decision comes despite the June 27 announcement that votes on the plan by the two ports’ governing commissions will not take place until at least mid-September, 60 days later than planned.

   The ports’ plan would offer licenses to trucking companies willing to meet port-defined criteria on fleet emissions, labor, finances and security. Trucks operated by port-licensed truck companies would be allowed to operate in the port while all others will be banned. Fees collected from pre-2007 model port-licensed trucks when they enter port terminals would be used to replace and retrofit older trucks serving the ports. The ports would also provide money and are seeking $400 million in state bond money to reach the $1.8 billion cost of the plan.

   In addition to maintaining their target start date, port officials have also decided to push forward with collecting applications from truck companies wishing to receive licenses, according to port staff. The process will begin in the third quarter of this year.

   However, internal port documents obtained by American Shipper reveal details of the plan that cast doubt on the ports being able to keep to the proposed plan's Jan. 1 start date.

   While the ports originally decreed that only trucking companies with a fleet size of “about 50” trucks would be permitted to apply for a license under the plan, this restriction has now been eliminated in the most current draft of the plan and all truck companies would be eligible to apply. This means the ports could wind up with as many as 1,300 applications — the estimated number of truck companies in the port drayage fleet — to collect and process within the few months between when the applications are offered and the proposed start date. All told, nearly 13,000 of the estimated 16,000 port drayage trucks would be covered under these applications (about 3,000 pre-1989 model year trucks would be banned outright from day one of the plan).

   The ports decision to offer an unlimited number of licenses would require that each application would have to be processed with the same due diligence as the next.

   The amount of information the ports plan to demand, collect and verify in the space of several months time from each applicant is voluminous. This information now includes proof by the applicants of:

   * A valid motor carrier license.

   * A valid California business license.

   * The companies’ trucks meet all applicable laws and regulations.

   * Liability insurance of $300,000 to $5 million.

   * Workers' compensation payments for employees.

   * All applicants' drivers are employees (a 20 percent-per-year transition schedule would make all drivers employees by 2012).

   * A truck maintenance plan for all trucks in an applicant's fleet.

   * Enrollment of all drivers in applicable security programs, such as Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC).

   * All trucks are equipped with a radio-frequency identification transponder.

   All of these criterion, and more, must be met for a trucking company to obtain a license. These requirements are also ongoing and compliance must be maintained. The ports have said non-compliance at any time by a licensed truck company could result in the immediate suspension of the port license and access to the ports would be denied.

   In addition to the above requirements, each truck in an applicant’s fleet would need to meet 2007 on-road standards, be retrofitted with emission control devices if they are model year 1996-2006, or agree to replace/retrofit the vehicles according to a port-defined schedule.

   The port plan also calls for much of this identifying information to be input into the RFID transponders that would be placed on each licensed vehicle to enable tracking as the vehicles enter port terminals.

   The bottom line is that all of the application work would need to be completed within a couple of months, and by port administrations that are both notoriously understaffed to begin with.

   The ports have said in the past that they envisioned hiring an outside third party to handle the application process. But to date no specifics have been given on who this might be or even when a bidding process to find such a company might be started.

   While numerous guidelines and general outlines of what the plan would and wouldn’t include have been laid out by the ports, no new details have been offered to the actual mechanics of how the different components of the plan, including the applications process, would work.

   The next deadline for the plan is Sept. 1, when a prominent Los Angeles economist is to complete an economic impact report.

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