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Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Long Beach Port OKs Agreement on Truck Plan

The Port of Long Beach last week approved a concession agreement that sets the requirements for motor carriers participating in the upcoming $2.2 billion truck replacement program.

The Long Beach agreement, which follows a similar move by Los Angeles port officials, is a milestone for the port, which is working feverishly to get ready for the program’s October start date. As part of the Clean Air Action Plan, the two ports are aiming to reduce diesel truck emissions by 80 percent by funding the replacement of more than 16,000 trucks in San Pedro Bay.

Under the plan adopted by Long Beach officials, motor carriers will be required to register new trucks with the port, make sure drivers adhere to all relevant parking restrictions and ensure drivers have received credentials under a forthcoming federal security program.

Motor carriers also will be required to pay an application fee of $250 and an annual fee of $100 per vehicle. With perhaps more than 1,000 motor carriers expected to register under the program, officials hope to begin sign-ups as soon as July 1.

“We need to move quickly to improve air quality while assuring that the transition to this landmark Clean Trucks Program allows trade to continue to move smoothly,” said Richard Steinke, executive director for the port, in a statement.

Beginning Oct. 1, all trucks manufactured before 1989 will be restricted from port grounds. That will include about 2,000 trucks, or between 10 percent and 15 percent, said port spokesman Art Wong.

What’s still unclear is to what extent the ports will require carriers to open up their books to verify the company’s financial stability. The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners asked the port’s staff to continue working on that provision of the concession agreement.

The port received grim news last week regarding the health insurance component of the plan. Officials have said they will require all motor carriers participating in the program to offer health insurance to the drivers.

But a study by San Diego-based Alliant Insurance Services Inc. showed that many drivers would be unable to afford the cost or would be denied coverage due to existing conditions since the plans would cover them as individuals and not employee groups.

Unlike the Los Angeles port, which is requiring the motor carriers to hire its drivers, Long Beach is allowing the current system to continue in which the drivers work as contracted independent owner-operators.

Wong said the harbor commissioners took the study under advisement and may take steps to help drivers find affordable options.

“There still are a lot of steps that need to be taken before the program can begin.”

Ted Dead

Ted, the low-cost airline service offered by United Airlines, became the latest casualty of high oil prices last week and experts warn that it might not be the last.

United Airlines, owned by Chicago-based UAL Corp., said it will end the service, eliminating more than 1,000 jobs nationwide. Ted operates nine daily flights from Los Angeles International Airport to various U.S. cities.

Jack Keady, a transportation analyst in Playa del Rey, said oil prices, which are down from recent all-time highs but are still running at more than $120 per barrel, could force additional airlines to close down or cancel service. He pointed to Mesa Airlines and Spirit Airlines as the most likely victims.

“The picture’s cloudy and nothing’s going to change unless oil drops in price,” he said. “At the current prices, we can expect more bankruptcies.”

On the bright side, the recent move by American Airlines to charge $15 for the first piece of checked luggage may not last much longer, he said. That was an extremely unpopular move and it has not yet been matched by other major carriers, so American may end the practice.

Quieter Homes

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners last week awarded a $1.9 million contract to El Segundo-based Professional Building Contractors Inc. for soundproofing work around Van Nuys Regional Airport.

Residents have long complained about noise from the private and corporate jets that fly in and out of the general aviation airport. Under the contract, the company will install double-paned windows, heavier doors and other features to dampen airport noise in 125 apartments, condos and houses.

Staff reporter Richard Clough can be reached at rclough@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 251.


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