Photo: Cross border trucking
Within hours of the announcement that the U.S. and Mexico had officially signed an agreement for a new cross-border trucking pilot program, opponents of the deal fired back, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA), which filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit seeking to halt the program.
OOIDA is asking the court to “enjoin, set-aside, suspend (in whole or in part) or determine the validity of the implementation of this program.” Filed by the Cullen Law Firm of Washington, DC, on behalf of OOIDA, the petition states that the “implementation of the pilot program is arbitrary, capricious, and abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law.”
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood signed the binational agreement Wednesday that will allow Mexican motor carriers to have operating authority beyond the border commercial zone inside the U.S. The agreement is designed to end a long battle over cross-border trucking dating back to 1994 and the signing of the NAFTA treaty. A similar pilot program was cancelled in 2009.
“If the agreement is good for the U.S. why the hell is [LaHood] sneaking down there to sign it?” said Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA, in a statement. “So much for their supposed transparency. Why not let the public see the details before signing the agreement? Seems like the administration is dead set on caving to Mexico’s shakedown regardless of the costs to the American public and our tax coffers.”
According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and the Secretaria de Communicaciones y Transportes of Mexico, the pilot program is not to exceed three years, but could run as short as 18 months.
Once a Mexican carrier successfully passes the “pilot” period, it could be granted full operating authority as long as it maintains a satisfactory safety rating, according to FMCSA.
While the focus here is tightly on Mexican carriers operating in the U.S., the MOU also grants the same privileges to U.S. carriers wanting to operate inside Mexico.