Cross-border program launched

Jill Dunn | October 14, 2011

U.S. officials have confirmed the cross-border pilot program with Mexico has begun after they granted provisional operating authority to the first Mexican carrier participant.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted authority to Transportes Olympic Oct. 14.

In March, Mexico agreed to remove the remaining 50 percent of the $2.4 billion retaliatory tariffs against U.S. agricultural, consumer and other products five days after the program began, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is a big win for American farmers and consumers, who will no longer have to struggle with onerous tariffs imposed by Mexico,” LaHood said.

The agency authorized Transportes Olympic, of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, for two of its trucks and two drivers, according to the Mexico’s secretary of transportation and communication.

The FMCSA published a Federal Register Notice Oct. 14 announcing plans to grant authority to Transportes Olympic. It responded to public comment on the carrier’s Pre-Authorization Safety Audit, which the agency conducts on Mexican carrier applicants to verify program compliance.

The notice stated that although Grupo Behr of Apodaca, Nuevo León, had cleared its PASA, it would extend review so that officials could investigate questions raised by groups commenting on the PASA results.

All trucks that participate in the program will carry GPS-capable electronic on-board recorders to ensure hours-of-service compliance and monitor trucks to and from assigned U.S. destinations.

Also, the FMCSA will review the driving records of each participating driver and require U.S. labs analyze all drug testing samples from each driver before that driver receives approval.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) blasted the decision to start the program. “Adding insult to injury, the Mexican carriers approved will be outfitted with vital safety equipment (EOBRs) paid for by American taxpayers,” he said in a news release. “It is simply unacceptable that U.S. truckers, through their fuel tax, will subsidize the cost of doing business for these Mexican carriers. I will continue to push my legislation that would forbid this kind of expenditure from the (Highway) Trust Fund.”  

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