SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA efforts pay off, Long Beach day-pass OKed

| 4/23/2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009 – OOIDA saw a key Association victory this week when the second port of America’s largest two-port complex approved a special entry pass for long-haul truckers, allowing small-business truck operations to continue making occasional port deliveries.

The Port of Long Beach approved a day-pass provision Monday, April 20, that will allow long-haulers to visit the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach complex 24 times annually. Drivers will need one pass per visit, and each pass will cost $30.

The Port of Los Angeles approved its part of the day-pass in early April.

The day-pass allows long-haul truckers to avoid a lengthy and expensive process to become port concessionaires as part of each port’s Clean Trucks Program. The Port of Los Angeles concessionaire program requires motor carriers to pay $2,500 annually, in addition to $100 per truck. By 2012, all trucks will be banned from the ports unless approved as concessionaires, an application process that includes weighting carriers by total financial assets and other considerations.

“We have something in place that will maintain access for long-haul truckers,” said Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist. “And in the event that the L.A., Long Beach model is implemented at other ports, this provision will hopefully maintain access at other ports so we don’t have to fight those battles individually at each port.”

Laura O’Neill, OOIDA government affairs counsel, worked with port leaders and watched firsthand as the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved its day-pass provision.

O’Neill said the day-pass approval by both ports is an important victory for the Association.

“It is important because we have to make sure that long-haul truckers are able to continue to have access to the ports without interruption,” O’Neill told Land Line. “This was a process that took a lot of discussion.”

O’Neill said that early in the Clean Trucks Program implementation, the ports were cooperative but didn’t fully understand the issues that long-haul truckers were dealing with.

“Now the ports have a pretty good understanding of who long-haul truckers are and understand why it’s critical that they maintain access and not impede interstate commerce,” O’Neill said.

The ports are working to make day-pass purchases available online to make the process smooth when long-haul drivers arrive at port gates.

Several ports in the Pacific Northwest, and some on the East Coast, have begun considering L.A.-style port programs that could pose problems for long-haul truckers. O’Neill said it’s unclear how other environmentally based port programs will proceed, but said OOIDA will be closely watching.

“We don’t think the L.A. and Long Beach model will work for every port as they each have different needs, but one thing is for certain as ports move forward,” she said. “They simply can’t deny long-haul trucks access.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer