Port of L.A. asks Swift, other carriers for Clean Truck cash refund

| 6/8/2011

In the end, those millions of dollars in free money for a few major motor carriers did have strings attached.

The Port of Los Angeles distributed $44 million in incentive checks as part of its Clean Truck Program by 2009 to pay for new trucks that meet 2007 emissions rules. Now, the port is asking for refunds after several megacarriers didn’t hold up their end of the deal.

The port has identified six companies that didn’t meet its obligations of making at least 150 trips a year, and is asking those companies to refund a portion of the incentives back.

Swift Transportation received $8.24 million in one check, and reportedly $11.8 million in total in the program, and a report sent to Land Line Magazine from the L.A. port shows Swift will owe $1.46 million.

Swift Vice President Dave Berry told Land Line the company had no comment.

The incentive funds could have been used to subsidize trucks that were in turn leased to truck drivers, said Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs director.

“It makes me wonder if the motor carriers will make those unlucky to have leased the affected trucks pay for that mistake by withholding pay from them,” Rajkovacz said. “We’ve been to this rodeo before.”

Meyer Trucking Inc. owes $80,000, and Central Cal Transportation owes $16,000, the report shows.

In May 2010, the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Commission was told by staff members that only 30 percent of the 2,000 trucks issued under the Truck Replacement Program as part of the Port’s Clean Trucks Program will meet incentive requirements of 300 trips per year. Nearly 400 trucks never made a single drayage haul.

Port staff gave commissioners several options for lowering the requirement of port trips, including the “preferred option” of 150 trips required annually. Seventy percent of the 2,000 trucks would probably make that goal, Los Angeles Captain of the Port John Holmes said.

After the port adjusted the requirements and allowed motor carriers to prove they’d made more trips, the number of carriers who owed refunds was reduced to six.