Featured article: Ports of Confusion

By Todd Dills | October 01, 2009

CARB is moving “full speed ahead” with the drayage rule, says Bob Fletcher, chief of CARB’s stationary source division. “We do have the support of the ports – the L.A./Long Beach requirements mirror ours and they are actively implementing them. Incentives for compliance in L.A./Long Beach and Oakland are kicking in – we’re assisting them in getting applications processed.”

If California continues its strict emissions stance, there may be fewer trucks to inspect at the ports. “The freight diversion is already happening,” Rajkovacz says, citing tariffs the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports put on containers to “pay for replacing the trucks. I call it welfare trucking. It amounts to $70 per container.” If you import 20,000 containers from China through L.A./Long Beach yearly, for instance, and use anything less than EPA 2007 compliant technology for transport at the port that’s more than $1 million added to costs.

Ports-chart“California is just shooting themselves in the foot,” says Bill Aboudi, owner of Oakland-based drayage small fleet AB Trucking. As shippers slowly alter their traffic lanes to route through Mexican and Canadian ports, “all of the truckers that come from inland states that haul beef and other stuff are looking to shift lanes and go to Texas or elsewhere. n

Compliance Costs


Reefer units of model-year 2002 and older must meet CARB’s emissions requirements of a 50 percent reduction in particulate matter, achievable by unit replacement or retrofit with Level 2 particulate filter by Jan. 1, 2010. At the end of 2010, 2003-built units will need to be replaced or retrofit with a Level 3 particulate filter to reduce emissions by 85 percent to remain in compliance. California-based owner-operators of reefer trailers had to register their units with CARB by last July, and are required to submit information on any changes that are made.


• Up to $500 for California operators not registering reefer units

• Up to $1,000 for reefers that don’t meet requirements


• $6,000 for DPF retrofit

• $10,000 for engine replacement

• $20,000 for new reefer unit


Older trucks entering California ports or rail yards within 80 miles of a cargo port will be affected by new regulations effective Jan. 1, 2010. Trucks with engines of model years 2003 and older will need to be retrofit with Level 3 particulate matter filters verified by CARB or replaced with EPA 2007-compliant trucks. By Jan. 1, 2012, 2004 engine technology will require Level 3 retrofit or replacement, and by Jan 1, 2013, 2005-06 engines will fall under the same requirement. If you’re serving the ports extensively, a safe long-term move is to adopt 2007 or newer technology to remain compliant: Jan. 1, 2014, is the deadline for all trucks to be utilizing 2007 technology or its equivalent. By Jan. 1, 2021, all trucks serving the ports must be utilizing technology meeting 2010 standards or its equivalent. Sept. 30 was the deadline for all trucks serving the ports to be registered in CARB’s Drayage Truck Registry.


$10,000 to $31,000 for retrofit and/or truck replacement



Fleets of three or fewer trucks are exempt from this rule until Jan. 1, 2014. It requires pre-2007 trucks to be retrofit with diesel particulate filters. Between 2013 and 2023, the goal is to get all trucks to the 2010 standards.


According to CARB heavy-duty branch chief Tony Brasil, out of state operators who report/register their equipment with CARB in 2010 may be granted some leniency on compliance with this regulation when it comes into play for them. In essence, it requires van trailers of model year 2011 and newer to use EPA SmartWay-certified aerodynamic side skirts and other equipment, such as low-rolling-resistance tires and SmartWay-certified reefer units if applicable. Phase-in of pre-2011 trailers to comply is included, depending on fleet size.

‘The consumer is going to pay’

The SmartWay efficiency regulation’s phase-in of trailers will require Con-way Truckload’s 2,700-plus power unit fleet of company and owner-operated trucks to retrofit 420trailers per year beginning in 2010, says Vice President Bruce Stockton. The cost: $1,500 to $2,000 apiece. The return on investment: Zero.

“The consumer is going to pay for that added investment,” Stockton says. “There’s not a valid return that allows us to avoid rate increases.”

CARB info

For information on compliance with California regs, including details about funding assistance, visit the new Truck Stop portal at the California Air Resources Board’s website, http://www.arb.ca.gov/truckstop

Ports still seeking owner-operator ban

The Port of Los Angeles’ Clean Trucks program originally included a phase-out of independent contractors as a requirement for transporters granted concessions to do business there. That element of the program was enjoined this year after a successful lawsuit by the American Trucking Associations alleged an illegal attempt to regulate interstate commerce.

 But Los Angeles continues to pursue the phase-out mandate, as the case is on appeal. And Port of Oakland officials have resolved themselves to appeal to Congress to get the necessary legal changes to allow them to do essentially the same thing without fear of legal challenge.

OverdriveOnline.com strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.