A plan by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to use stickers to identify drayage trucks that comply with the port's clean-air plan represents "de facto re-regulation of the trucking industry," an owner-operator group told the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
"If the PANYNJ requirement is allowed to stand, it is not unreasonable to expect a greater proliferation of unique credentialing requirements that impede interstate commerce at ports nationwide," the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told the FMCSA.
The port authority defended the stickers as a voluntary program that complies with federal laws, wouldn't cause excessive delays and is "part of a program which will promote public health and safety." The agency urged the FMCSA to reject truckers' challenge of the sticker plan.
The agency said the rules are legal because they "do not require that any vehicle carry a form of identification, but rather provide for the voluntary display of a sticker to indicate compliance" with a port program to reduce air pollution by phasing out older trucks at port terminals.
The port authority amended its marine tariff on Oct. 1 to require trucks entering port terminals to display stickers showing they are on a register of post-1994 drayage trucks. The port authority plans to phase out older trucks as part of its clean-air program.
After complaints from the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, the port authority said compliance with the sticker program would be voluntary and that no truck would be denied access to marine terminals for failing to display a sticker. Not satisfied, the trucking group asked the FMSCA to decide on the stickers' legality.
The Coalition for Healthy Ports, a labor-environmental group, told the FMCSA that if the New York-New Jersey sticker plan is declared invalid, port programs to ban older trucks in Southern California and elsewhere "will be in jeopardy."
The coalition urged the FMCSA "not to succumb to the pressure of the NJMTA and (American Trucking Associations) to undermine any and all efforts to clean the air and promote economic justice in the port trucking industry."
Several trucking organizations and UPS joined the ATA and the New Jersey association in urging the FMCSA to reject the sticker program on grounds federal law precludes state and local authorities from requiring trucks to display decals or stickers not authorized by the Department of Transportation.
UPS said it agreed with the ATA and the New Jersey Motor Truck Association "that the insertion of the term 'voluntary'" in the port authority's drayage requirements "does not in fact change the mandatory nature of the decal program."
The trucking groups said that although the port authority contends the decals or stickers would be voluntary, drivers that show up at port terminals without them would be subject to delays not faced by drivers whose trucks display the stickers.
The port authority told the FMCSA that any delays would be minor. The agency claimed that trucks that comply with the clean-air rules but don't display stickers would benefit because they would not have to wait as long behind trucks that display stickers and move through terminal gates more quickly.
The OOIDA said the port authority's statements suggest the stickers would be "a none-so-subtle form of overt coercion to ensure compliance under the penalty of substantial delays and waste of a driver's limited on-duty time with more burdensome and inefficient alternative compliance procedures. Under the circumstances, use of a sticker is the only rational choice and is as a practical matter mandatory; non-use is not a realistic option."
-- Contact Joseph Bonney at firstname.lastname@example.org.