Overdrive Staff | February 01, 2011

Cross-border plan unveiled

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Jan. 6 provided Congress and Mexico with a proposal for a long-haul cross-border Mexican trucking program. He says it emphasizes safety and satisfies the United States’ obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trucks cross the World Trade Bridge over the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas. An informal proposal from the U.S. Department of Transportation would require safety inspections and ongoing reviews for Mexican carriers that want to operate in the U.S.

The proposal outlines the steps Mexican carriers would have to take, including a comprehensive safety audit and vetting process, before being granted access to operate in the U.S. Carriers that would be phased in to the program would undergo several inspections and reviews to monitor their continued safe operation in the U.S.

Bill Graves, American Trucking Associations president and CEO, said the U.S. announcement “is a positive development in resolving this costly trade dispute with Mexico.” Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, however, said it would rob American truckers of jobs and that Mexico lacks U.S. regulatory standards.

After a pilot program was terminated in March 2009, Mexico responded by placing tariffs on U.S. products.

After the ban in 2009, LaHood and other Obama Administration officials met with lawmakers, safety advocates, industry representatives and other stakeholders to address concerns. The DOT says the recent proposal addresses questions raised during that process.

Mexico’s economic secretary Bruno Ferrari said his nation is seeking a permanent cross-border trucking agreement. Jose Luis Paz Vega, who heads Mexico’s trade and NAFTA office in Washington D.C., said Mexico was unwilling to accept another pilot project, according to a November Congressional report.

The DOT says a formal proposal will follow a public comment period.

— Jeff Crissey and Jill Dunn

Dart buys Fil-Mor assets

Immediately after Fil-Mor Express unexpectedly closed Dec. 17, Dart Network began recruiting its competitor’s former drivers and on Dec. 21 announced it had bought its assets.

Dart’s leasing company, Highway Sales, bought Fil-Mor’s 153 daycabs and a portion of its trailer fleet. Dartco, an employee-driver fleet that contracts its trucks and drivers to Dart, is recruiting Fil-Mor’s 200 employee drivers.

Dart had announced it would match Fil-Mor’s mileage rate and its former drivers would drive for the same customers at Dart. Dart also offered positions to Fil-Mor’s office staff. Fil-Mor and Dart are dry van truckload carriers located 45 miles apart in Minnesota, and have operated in many of the same freight corridors.

Richard Olson, Fil-Mor president and CEO, issued a Dec. 16 e-mail saying the business and benefits would end the next day, according to a Dec. 29 story in Rochester’s The Post-Bulletin.

– Jill Dunn


WEBSITE CORRECTION. The web address of factor company Seven Oaks Capital Management was incorrectly listed in the December story on factoring. Find the firm at www.sevenoakscapital.com.

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