Different port, same story? Oakland readies truck restrictions

| 9/8/2009

Count the Port of Oakland as yet another port to join the recent trend of restricting trucks in the name of emissions and security.

According to documents posted on the Port of Oakland Web site, trucks wanting to enter the port will begin registering with the port this fall. By January, they’ll be required to sign a Secure Truck Enrollment Program, or STEP, agreement in order to enter the port.

Eventually, the port may add “truck positioning technology” requirements.

In a request for proposals document for consulting services on the program, the port estimates that 2,000 drayage trucks operate daily at the Oakland port, and says the total number of trucks at the port could be as high as 4,500 when out-of-state and “infrequent callers” are counted.

Oakland’s drayage truck registry is separate from the California Air Resources Board’s drayage truck registry.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist, said he is glad the port realizes there are a large number of infrequent port visitors, including many long-haulers and OOIDA members.

“Obviously local drivers will have to conform to this,” Rajkovacz said. “But the devil is going to be in the details in how this is implemented, and it’s important that they not discourage long-haul truckers from being those infrequent visitors. If they don’t take those drivers into consideration, you’re removing them from the marketplace.”

The trend of restricting trucks for security or other reasons may make long-haul drivers think twice about hauling to ports, Rajkovacz said.

“Not only are drivers headed to California going to have to know the CARB regulations, it is almost going to be impossible for them to know every single specific requirement for each and every port in the country that jumps on this bandwagon,” he said.

Rajkovacz said Oakland’s port truck restrictions will likely remind many of similar programs at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have already implemented Clean Trucks programs that ban many trucks and require port-administered registration. Expensive fees associated with those registries have, however, been struck down by a court ruling.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer