Third Mexican carrier OK’d for cross-border program

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Updated Apr 30, 2012

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted operating authority to a third Mexican carrier and has filed its final brief in ongoing litigation over its cross-border pilot program.

As of April 5, Baja Express became the third carrier to receive authority and – like the second participant to receive authority, Moises Alvarez Perez – has one truck, one driver and has not traveled beyond the border zone. Transportes Olympic, which has one truck and two drivers, has crossed 15 times since the program began more than five months ago.

Operating authority is pending for an additional 15 carriers, of which two have completed the Pre-Authorization Safety Audit required for participation. However, one of the two withdrew after the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association raised issues over its safety record.

OOIDA filed its final reply brief April 4 in its U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lawsuit to stop the program. The court has said a similar lawsuit filed by the Teamsters, Public Citizen and Sierra Club will be argued on the same day before the same panel, but oral arguments have not been scheduled.

OOIDA says FMCSA lacks legal authority to accept Mexican carriers because they are not compliant with federal regulations. Mexico’s commercial driver’s licenses, medical certificates and drug testing standards do not meet American standards and therefore are noncomplaint, it said in its reply.

FMCSA’s April 2 final brief asserts OOIDA’s members lack standing in the case because they are neither eligible for the program nor regulated by it and have not demonstrated proof of substantial harm.

Members would not be caused to lose business “because the vast majority of the cross-border deliveries are likely to be made in commercial zone,” the brief says, and because Mexican carriers are prohibited from making point-to point deliveries of domestic freight.

The Teamsters’ most recent case filing was its March 7 counterarguments to FMCSA’s stand that the pilot program does not include a representative sample of trucks domiciled in Mexico, as required by law.

The agency responded by saying it is early in the three-year program. Also, the Federal Register notice on the program outlines steps to ensure statistics are not skewed by a large number of inspection reports from a small number of carriers, FMCSA argued.