The Port of Los Angeles announced that about 40 trucking companies that serve the port have applied for operating concessions under a new clean-trucks program, and that six motor carriers plan to begin service at the port under a new subsidy program.
The port said about 4,000 trucks are involved -- more than 2,000 from existing motor carriers that have applied for concessions to operate in the port with trucks that meet environmental standards for 2007-model vehicles, and about the same number from newcomers to the port. It is not clear, though, how many trucks the new entrants to the port will provide.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been offering subsidies to trucking companies that agree to serve the harbor with newer trucks that will ensure adequate capacity after Oct. 1.
That's the date after which trucks built before 1989, which are too old to be retrofitted for lower-polluting operation, will be banned from the nation's two busiest container ports. The banned trucks are expected to total about 15 percent of the nearly 17,000 that now serve the harbor.
Both ports are offering subsidies to cover up to 80 percent of the cost of buying new trucks that meet clean-air standards. That's expected to be about $75,000 per clean-diesel truck and $120,000 for each vehicle powered by liquefied natural gas. In addition, the ports will pay up to $20,000 per vehicle to retrofit newer trucks for cleaner operation. The subsidies will be funded by a $35-per-TEU fee on trucks that don't comply with clean-air standards, and on port funds and state grants.
The Port of Los Angeles also is offering an up-front bonus of $20,000 for motor carriers that provide their own trucks without subsidized purchases. These operators also will receive a subsidy of $10 per load if they use the trucks for at least 600 port loads a year, including 300 at Los Angeles. The port said six motor carriers -- four local companies and two based outside the area -- have signed letters of intent to participate in this program.
Meanwhile, shippers in a private-sector group, the Coalition for Responsible Transportation, say they are willing to pay higher rates -- expected to be about $50 per load -- to motor carriers that provide clean trucks that are unsubsidized. Users of these trucks would not be subject to the ports' fee of $35-per-TEU, or $70 per 40-foot container.
The ports' clean-air plans require all motor carriers serving the port to obtain concessions, or licenses, to operate in the ports after Oct. 1. Los Angeles would go a step further by requiring trucking companies to shift from owner-operators to employee drivers over the next five years.
The concession plans are the target of a lawsuit by the American Trucking Associations claiming the plans are an illegal local attempt to regulate interstate commerce. A U.S. District Court judge will hear arguments Sept. 8 in Los Angeles on the ATA's request for a temporary injunction to prevent the ports from requiring concessions.