OOIDA challenges 'truthfulness' of Baja Express cross-border application

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 3/13/2012

The most recent motor carrier seeking cross-border authority may not have presented a factual portrayal of the company to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration according to comments filed by OOIDA.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association challenged the “truthfulness” of the OP-1 form submitted by Baja Express to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, seeking authority to participate in the agency’s cross-border pilot program with Mexico.

FMCSA authority applications require motor carriers, including those applying to the cross-border program, to disclose any affiliations with other motor carriers.

Company officials with Baja Express did not disclose any such affiliations in the application to the program.

However, OOIDA research reveals two other motor carriers possibly affiliated with the same person, Carlos Tirado Valdez, with one company naming him as president and the other company operating under his name.

One of the companies in question, Bajas Express, also lists the same mailing address as cross-border applicant Baja Express. Both companies also report to be one-truck operations from Tijuana.

“If these are, for all practical purposes, the same motor carrier, then the answers on Baja Express’ OP-1 (MX) would have been very different,” OOIDA’s comments submitted to the docket state.

OOIDA also notes that Valdez verified the truthfulness of the information under penalty of perjury.

Were FMCSA to verify that the carrier in question was in fact related to Baja Express, then the PASA (pre-authority safety audit) questions should have been answered differently, according to OOIDA’s comments.

“If FMCSA finds that these motor carriers are related, and does not choose to deny the OP-1 (MX) application for its lack of truthfulness, then it must at least revisit the PASA to obtain accurate information,” OOIDA’s comments state.

The Association also universally challenged the depth of information provided to the public to comment on. The PASA forms provided to the public provides only summary data with only “yes or no” questions used by the agency.

“This PASA provides no information to support the public statements made by Administrator Anne Ferro that the agency is ‘raising the bar to entry and staying in the business.’ The Baja Express PASA notice contained virtually no useful, never mind comprehensive, data permitting the public to submit meaningful comments on FMCSA’s determination that the carrier passed that review,” OOIDA’s comments state. “Most surprising is the agency’s apparent lack of awareness of Baja Express’ current incarnation.

“This notice continues to demonstrate that FMCSA intends to give special treatment to Mexico–domiciled motor carriers under the proposed pilot program, not ‘national treatment’ as required under NAFTA. This continues to be an inequitable policy to U.S.-based drivers who must comply with the far more stringent U.S. standards.”

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