For the time being, Mexican carriers see “no benefit” of participating in the cross border pilot program

In a meeting in Tijuana B.C this past Friday, Anna Amos, director of safety programs for the FMCSA, and Marcelo Perez, a transportation safety investigator for the agency, expressed concern over the low level of participation by Mexico-domiciled carriers, saying their enrollment is critical to the success of the three-year project.

During the meeting, Amos and Perez suggested that without significantly more Mexican involvement, the U.S. Department of Transportation won’t have enough data to show that Mexican trucks can operate safety outside the commercial trade zone.

Considering that Mexican carriers have been operating in the US for decades, being grandfathered in after Reagan signed the 1982 Foreign Carrier Exclusion order, FMCSA should have substantial and significant data  to make this decision.

The objective of the Cross Border Pilot program with Mexico, supposedly is to collect and evaluate data on the safety performance of Mexico-domiciled carriers.

That data would then be evaluated to determine whether the program should be made permanent.

FMCSA has a three-year target of 4,100 inspections. The agency said it would take about 46 Mexico-domiciled participating carriers to reach that target.

Data obtained during the 2007 Cross Border Demonstration program showed Mexican carriers to be as safe, and in most cases, safer, than their US and Canadian counterparts.

[pullquote]“The new program has way too many limitations, and that’s possibly why there aren’t enough carriers” that have registered – Alfonso Esquér CANCAR Tijuana[/pullquote]

Twenty-two Mexico-domiciled carriers have now applied to participate in the cross-border demonstration project.

State of the state of the Cross Border Pilot Program

According to THE TRUCKER,

As of Monday, only two carriers have operating authority to participate in the pilot program.

Five other carriers are awaiting the result of their Pre-Authorization Safety Audit (PASA).

Another, Grupo Behr, passed the PASA, but concerns about the carrier’s safety record during the public comment period resulted in FMCSA not granting operating authority pending further investigation.

Nine more Mexico-domiciled carriers whose names do not appear on the last operational report have completed applications and are being moved the PASA phase, an FMCSA spokesperson said Monday. Five other carriers have submitted applications, but those five applications were considered incomplete. The FMCSA is waiting for those carriers to return complete applications before moving them on to the PASA process.

During its Grupo Behr investigation, FMCSA discovered violations involving the carrier leasing its vehicles to a company with authority to operate beyond the commercial zones, something not allowed under U.S. law, an FMCSA spokesperson said.  FMCSA issued a Notice of Violation to the company. Grupo Behr has submitted a corrective action plan, and FMCSA intends to monitor the company’s operations for six months and reconsider its application for the program at that point.

FMCSA operational reports on the program are complete through Feb. 5, 2010.

The data shows that there have been nine northbound border crossings.

There have been seven inspections, one of which resulted in a Transportes Olympic vehicle being placed out-of-service Jan. 2 for an inoperable required lamp.

The carrier corrected the problem on site and the vehicle was cleared to resume its trip.

[pullquote]“It is very complicated, it’s very expensive, and to tell you the truth, it hasn’t brought us any benefit.” – Juan Carlos Muñoz Márquez, CANACAR National President[/pullquote]

Members of the Mexican carrier community and CANACAR, Mexico’s trucking association have long complained that Mexican carriers are being forced to adhere to much stricter standards than their US and Canadian counterparts, a claim readily evidenced by the PASA, which Canadians do not have to undergo and which is not a part of the NAFTA truck agreement. This is evident when by the a truck being put “out of service” for a light being out. At best, a US or Canadian trucker would receive a warning or a “fix-it” ticket and that would be that.

Perhaps once the D.C. Court of Appeals throws out the frivolous lawsuits filed by OOIDA and the Teamsters, maybe the confidence level in the Mexican carrier community will be high enough to overcome this issue.