Thursday, May 6, 2010

SoCal Ports' Truck Plans Face Congress: Successes and Differences

Officials from the Southern California ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles testified Wednesday before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. The committee called the hearing to investigate the implementation and impacts of the two ports' truck plans.

John Holmes, deputy executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, began with a Los Angeles perspective of the truck plans, stating that through a series of progressive bans on older trucks the average age of a truck servicing the two ports has declined from 11-years-old before the plans started to a current average of five-years-old. According to Holmes, the average truck now servicing the ports produces 80 percent less pollution than the average truck in service before the truck plan began.

Holmes pointed out that currently 86 percent of cargo moved via truck through Los Angeles is handled by 2007 or newer clean trucks. This has led to a reduction in truck emissions of 70 percent.

Chris Lytle, deputy executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said the Long Beach truck plan is now moving 90 percent of its cargo with 2007 or newer clean trucks. These trucks have led to the reduction of truck emissions from the port by more than 80 percent – beating the Long Beach reduction goals set down in the truck plan by more than two years.

The Los Angeles port also implemented concession agreements as part of the truck plans, which Holmes compared to taxicab licensing agreements. The agreements require truckers wishing to serve the Los Angeles port to sign a contract (concession agreement) and meet certain port-defined criteria, such as the employee-only requirement. Trucking firms who have not signed such agreements are banned from servicing the port. Long Beach has a similar registry contract system but does not require any of Los Angeles' injuncted criteria such as the employee-only requirement.

"Although both ports jointly adopted Clean Truck programs with the same environmental goals," said Lytle, "the programs are not identical."

The most significant difference, according to Lytle, is that the Los Angeles port seeks to eventually bar independent drivers from serving the Los Angeles port. 

"The Long Beach program allows both employee drivers and independent owner-operators to continue to serve the [Long Beach] port," said Lytle. "Of note is that both ports have been able to achieve our environmental goals while utilizing both employee and independent owner-operators."