Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Long Beach Port, ATA Reach Truck Program Settlement

Officials at the Port of Long Beach and the American Trucking Associations have approved a negotiated settlement that will end the use of taxi-like concessionaire agreements in the port’s 13-month old Clean Truck Program.

The concession agreements under the jointly developed Los Angeles/Long Beach truck program required motor carriers wishing to continuing providing drayage service to the port to sign a business agreement with the port to retain access to port terminals. The concession agreements also required that motor carriers provided certain information deemed by the port as necessary to comply with federal, state and local safety, security and environmental regulations.

The LB/ATA settlement will replace the concession agreements with a Registration and Agreement process that will still require the motor carriers to provide full information on drayage vehicles to the port-operated Drayage Truck Registry and to equip each truck with a radio frequency identification device (or other such device) to allow the port to monitor and control drayage truck entry to port facilities.

Truckers must also certify to the port that all trucks entering the port comply with all safety, security and environmental regulations—including those defined by the port in the Clean Truck Program. Motor carriers will also be responsible for ensuring that all drivers possess both a valid California Drivers license and a federal Transportation Worker Identification Card, and that adequate insurance is carried.

The settlement also allows the port to inspect trucks for safety, security, and emissions violations while on port property, including the privately operated terminals.

The settlement still allows the port to bar any motor carrier, truck or driver not meeting the terms of the settlement.

However, the settlement eliminated numerous contentious aspects of the concession agreements, notably the ability under the concession for the port to deny trucking firms that otherwise met all concession criteria. Also eliminated under the new settlement were criteria regarding the financial health of applying trucking firms, off-port parking requirements, and any kind of hiring preferences.

“We have always strongly supported the environmental objectives of the Port and supports strict compliance with and adherence to all safety and security laws and regulations,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “We never disagreed with their objectives, only with certain provisions of the Concession Agreements which we believed were unnecessary for the accomplishment of those objectives.”

The settlement comes after nearly 13 months of legal battles between the ATA-led coalition of industry groups and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles over portions of the truck program including the concession agreement. The settlement is expected to end litigation against Long Beach’s version of the truck program, but the ATA was quick to point out that it will continue to pursue litigation against the neighboring Los Angeles port.

Harbor Commission President Nick Sramek said, “Under the new registration system, the Port of Long Beach will have the tools to strictly monitor and enforce its Clean Trucks Program and the Program’s truck emission reductions. It will also be positioned to enforce fully all of its security and safety related regulations.”

The settlement now clears the way for the ATA-led coalition to focus it litigation solely on the Los Angeles port version of the truck program, including a concession agreement criteria requiring trucking firms to hire per-hour employees and not per-load independent owner operators. The case is expected to begin in a Los Angeles Superior Court in December.