Audit delays cross-border plan
U.S. transportation officials said they are working to meet a federal audit’s requirements before starting in the next few weeks the cross-border pilot trucking program with Mexico, including monitoring and placing tracking devices on Mexican trucks.
The U.S. Office of Inspector General’s Aug. 19 audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s pilot program concluded the agency had adequate border inspections, but more action is necessary to meet U.S. regulations.
Federal law requires the OIG report to Congress on the program. FMCSA must address the office’s concerns before Mexican trucks cross the border.
FMCSA’s response to the report noted action or plans to satisfy these requirements before the end of September, when the report was expected to be sent to Congress.
In June, FMCSA officials told OIG they will comply with the law for conducting Pre-Authority Safety Audits and compliance reviews, but have not developed plans and safeguards for conducting PASAs in Mexico.
Two Mexican carriers, Grupo Behr De Baja of Tijuana and Transportes Olympic of Monterrey, have successfully completed the PASAs. FMCSA said it is processing applications of three other carriers.
In a PASA review, the carrier must demonstrate it complies with requirements for drug and alcohol testing, hours of service, insurance, vehicle maintenance and inspections, and qualified drivers.
FMCSA said it has begun soliciting proposals for the electronic monitoring devices and tracking service it will require for Mexican trucks for three years. In April, it had estimated the total cost at $2.5 million, but the OIG puts that price at $3.2 million. Although the agency will retain ownership of the hardware, its plan to fund these devices has drawn criticism.
— Jill Dunn
Court asked to review pilot program
The Teamsters and Public Citizen petitioned a federal appeals court to review the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s plans to proceed with a cross-border trucking pilot program with Mexico.
The organizations filed the petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Jonathan Weissglass, an attorney with the Altshuler Berzon firm representing the Teamsters, said unlike a complaint, the petition does not detail the legal challenge that is discussed later in briefing.
He said one argument will be that the standard of comparable treatment of trucking on both sides of the border “is not met because of the lack of widespread availability of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel (in Mexico) and that the requirement of safety equivalence is not met because of Mexico’s lower vision standards.”