California law protects trucking from arbitrary intermodal fees

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month signed legislation to limit fees and charges imposed on trucking companies that transport intermodal freight.

Pushed by the California Trucking Association, the new law prohibits ocean carriers, railroads and marine terminal operators from imposing arbitrary per diem, detention or demurrage charges on motor carriers when trucks transporting container cargo are delayed by various port events such as port gate closures, labor disruptions, unanticipated equipment diversions, terminal congestion and weekends or holidays.

These billing practices have become commonplace in port operations in California and throughout the country, said the American Trucking Associations and its Intermodal Motor Carrier Conference, which supported the new law.

ATA President Bill Graves said that California law should become nationwide. “Ideally, California’s example should be replicated elsewhere,” he said. “Motor carriers will no longer be unfairly billed to pay for the inefficient operational practices of intermodal equipment and terminal facilities, and this law will hopefully improve the operational and work environment of the port trucking community.”