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FMCSA official: Mexico program endangered; DOT remains optimistic

As of May 13, there have been 33 northbound border crossings and 33 inspections. (Associated Press)

The Trucker News Services

5/24/2012

WASHINGTON  — The associate administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told a subcommittee of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee that the success of the cross-border pilot program was endangered by low participation.

William Quade also predicted that failure of the program could lead to Mexico imposing new tariffs.

The FMCSA has repeatedly said it needed to conduct about 4,100 inspections on Mexico-domiciled trucks to accurately gauge the success of the program with respect to Mexico trucks safely operating beyond the U.S. commercial trade zone. The agency said it had determined it would take 43 Mexican carriers to make that number of crossings.

The current project began in late October and is scheduled to run for three years.

As of May 13, there had 33 northbound crossings and 33 inspections. Over half of the crossings have occurred in the past month.

“The agency is extremely concerned about not having sufficient data,” published reports had Quade telling the subcommittee.

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As of Thursday, three carriers had been granted operating authority for the project, each with one truck.

Three more carriers are likely to be granted authority in the next few days, but each of those has only one truck it had allocated to participate in the program.

Despite the low numbers, the Department of Transportation remains optimistic about the program.

"The cross-border trucking agreement we signed with Mexico last year ended crippling tariffs on American farmers, and we are fully confident that over the next two and a half years, we will gather the data needed to make the program permanent,” DOT spokesman Justin Nisly said.  “Safety is our first priority, and we are efficiently working through our rigorous vetting process to bring more trucking companies into the program.  We recently asked the public to comment on three additional Mexican carriers that have applied to participate and more are in the pipeline. 

“In addition, we are working closely with the Mexican government and industry to encourage more trucking companies to apply.  We're pleased with the progress we've made, and we're fully committed to the continuing success of the program.”

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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