L.A. port: Swift, Knight plan to enroll in Clean Truck Program

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The Port of Los Angeles announced that it received letters of intent from Swift Transportation and Knight Transportation to plan to become drayage concessionaires under the Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program (CTP).

Also last week, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach filed their opposition in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in response to the preliminary injunction motion from the American Trucking Associations that seeks to stop the ports’ CTP concession requirement.

Swift and Knight, both Phoenix-based companies, plan to begin drayage operations in October, port officials said. While the number of trucks they will operate in the market is still to be determined, port officials expect that, collectively, their pool of trucks will exceed 2,000. From the outset, these trucks will meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2007 diesel emissions standards using a mix of clean diesel and liquefied natural gas trucks, port officials said.

“The entrance of these two innovative national carriers into drayage service at our port is the culmination of months of discussion between our team and the motor carrier community regarding our program and the opportunities it can provide to trucking companies that are operationally efficient and environmentally responsible,” said Geraldine Knatz, the port’s executive cirector.

The port says that to date it has received concession applications from about 20 other licensed motor carriers of various sizes that collectively represent more than 1,100 trucks. With the addition of Knight and Swift, port officials urge other motor carriers to take action to ensure that they can still operate in the port after the Oct. 1 start date of the CTP.

“The board wants to congratulate port staff on their extensive outreach effort, which is now resulting in a critical mass of program participation, including these two leading national carriers,” said Los Angeles Harbor Commission President S. David Freeman.

ATA, with the support of its Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference, filed suit in the U.S. District Court in California July 28 challenging the port concession plans as approved by the Cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach and their harbor commissions. The plans will limit access to the ports to only those trucking companies that have entered into concession contracts approved by the port program administrator.

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The concession plans impose a broad range of operational requirements that create a regulatory environment similar to state intrastate economic regulation, ATA argues; the ports have acknowledged that these intrusive regulatory systems will result in far fewer trucking companies being able to service the ports, reducing competition.

In their response filed Wednesday, Aug. 20, port officials argue that ATA’s requested injunction is without legal basis for three reasons:

  • First, the statute that ATA relies upon does not apply to the special tidelands property on which the ports are located. The U.S. Supreme Court previously has decided that the tidelands were granted to California directly under the U.S. Constitution and subsequently granted to the Cities. Therefore, absent explicit congressional intent — which is not present in the federal statute relied upon by the ATA — a federal statute will not interfere with the ports’ rights to manage and control these sovereign lands as they see fit.
  • Second, the statute does not apply to actions taken by the ports as landholders and as “commercial enterprises