Cargo interests and customs brokers complained to the Federal Maritime Commission that trucking companies in Los Angeles-Long Beach are still charging a clean-truck fee even though the ports stopped collecting the fee Jan. 1.
Harbor truckers respond that shippers are not paying a clean-truck fee as such, but rather they are paying higher freight rates agreed to by all parties over the past few years that compensate truckers for purchasing costly new trucks.
The Southern California ports in 2008 began a progressive ban on old, polluting trucks that resulted in harbor drayage companies retiring old trucks and replacing them with about 11,000 post-2007 model trucks by Dec. 31, 2011.
As an incentive to encourage truckers to purchase new vehicles at a cost of about $100,000 each, and in order to collect revenue to reimburse the ports for the assistance they provided, the ports established a clean-truck fee of $35 per 20-foot container and $70 per 40-foot container. The fee was charged directly to the cargo interest.
The issue is complex because trucking contracts are usually between the ocean carrier and the trucker. The cargo interest pays the shipping line a through rate that includes the ocean voyage and the drayage rate. On imports, this is known as a store-door move.
Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association said importers and exporters don’t mind paying premium rates for the use of clean trucks, but neither do they want to pay a line-item charge for a clean-truck fee that no longer exists. Shipping lines and harbor trucking companies should work this matter out between themselves, said Dan Meylor, chairman of the brokers group, which asked FMC to look into the matter.
Long Beach attorney Alex Cherin, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association of Southern California, suggested using what used to be a clean-truck fee in the store-door rate the shipping lines charge to the cargo interests.