Mexican cross-border pilot program growing slowly
Many Mexican carriers have no interest in participating in the cross-border pilot program.
The Department of Transportation's Mexico cross-border pilot program remains in legal jeopardy due to opposition from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Teamsters union, and there are still too few carriers participating to prove that the regulatory system will work in the long run.
As of Feb. 21 there were 10 Mexican carriers participating in the pilot program that was set up to test how well the rules work.That's up from the seven carriers participating last September. More carriers have applications pending.
In the past three months, the carriers have had no reportable crashes, and they appear to be meeting the regulatory requirements, which are similar to and in some respects stricter than U.S. requirements.
But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which runs the program, has a way to go before it reaches its target numbers.
The agency estimates it needs at least 46 Mexican carriers in order to reach its target of 4,100 inspections over three years. So far there have been 558 inspections.
One issue still in flux is enforcement of “cabotage” rules, which prohibit Mexican carriers from hauling freight between points within the U.S.
The agency is monitoring cabotage manually, but it intends to switch to an automated system once there are enough Mexican carriers in the program to justify the expense.
The agency has enlisted the help of its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, which has reached out to the Mexican federal motor carrier safety agency and will regularly review aspects of the program over the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, the pilot program remains in legal jeopardy. OOIDA and the Teamsters have opposed cross-border trucking ever since it was established under the North American FreeTrade Agreement in 1994.
They have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to stop the program. Oral arguments were heard last December. A decision could come in March or April but may take longer, says Joyce Mayers, an attorney for OOIDA.
With reporting from Oliver B. Patton, Washington Editor