By Charlie Morasch
Late 2008 and 2009 saw some major changes at southern California ports, and it appears that those changes will shotgun across the U.S. during 2010 as more ports make changes to address emission and efficiency concerns.
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach modified their port clean truck programs – at least temporarily – to avoid expensive licensing requirements. A lawsuit by American Trucking Associations continues to attempt to throw out the employee-driver requirement in the Port of LA. The Port of Long Beach settled with ATA in October.
Several other ports and other industry players have announced their own initiatives aimed at reducing emissions and improving efficiency, including:
The Port of Oakland approved its new clean truck program in October. Oakland allows one port visit annually by trucks hauling certain perishable food items, but says it will block otherwise non-compliant trucks beginning on Jan. 1, 2010. The program is identical to CARB’s port drayage limit, though the port has specific power to ban trucks. CARB may gather information and ticket regulation violations.
During summer 2009, Maersk Equipment Services Co., rolled out a new chassis system for port truckers to use at the port of New York/New Jersey. Participation in the program is required for truckers hauling Maersk containers from any of the port area marine or rail terminals at the New York/New Jersey ports. Maersk also intends to roll this program out nationally. Under the new program, drayage drivers can use the same chassis from Direct ChassisLink Inc. for multiple trips during the same day. Specific ports will charge a fee based on when the container leaves and when it returns. When the chassis are returned, the fee will stop. Drayage companies will be billed for chassis use based on calendar days.
In October, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his support of the Los Angeles port clean trucks program, and specifically of Los Angeles’ plan for employee-driver only requirements.
In October, OOIDA’s Joe Rajkovacz visited Terminal Island at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Rajkovacz said it’s incorrect to think that either emissions or efficiency will improve with any change in employee status.
Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist and a trucker for 29 years, said he witnessed widespread indifference by many marine terminal operators who did not appear to efficiently man their gates and speed up turn times.
“It boggles the mind that supposedly intelligent people think the real issue is driver status,” Rajkovacz said. “The number one problem frustrating an owner-operator’s earnings potential is the lack of attention by ports and marine terminal operators to allow drivers to quickly make a turn. Driver status, whether it’s an owner-operator or employee driver, will not change this dynamic.
“Let’s say everyone becomes an employee driver. They’ll still sit for hours, uncompensated at the ports.” LL