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Oregon Withdraws From Norpass Preclearance System

February 7, 2000

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Oregon has withdrawn from the Norpass weigh station preclearance system in protest against an operating agreement between Norpass and its competitor, PrePass.
Oregon’s action was triggered by a partial “interoperability” agreement between the two organizations. Under the agreement, which takes effect Feb. 15, Norpass carriers may use PrePass provided they meet PrePass safety criteria, have the right transponder and pay the fee.

Oregon objects to a provision of the agreement that in effect requires Norpass users to get permission from the organization that administers PrePass, HELP Inc., before they can use PrePass.
According to Oregon, it is a matter of principle: Users should be able to enroll their transponders in any system they want – without asking for permission.
The interoperability agreement “invite(s) HELP Inc. to dictate further terms of use,” says a letter from the Oregon Department of Transportation to Tim Erickson, president of North American Preclearance and Safety Systems (Norpass). This sets the stage for HELP Inc. “to impose elements of the PrePass business model on independent states,” the letter says.
A HELP Inc. spokesman took issue with this assertion. “There is no reason to believe anything untoward will happen,” said Richard Landis, executive director of HELP Inc.
The interoperability agreement was the result of “a long, hard negotiation process,” Landis said. “All of the Norpass states (except Oregon) agreed that the agreement is an honest, equitable and fair way to do business.”
Oregon was the only Norpass state to vote against the agreement, Landis said.
A spokesman for Norpass said the company will survive the loss of Oregon. Gene Bergoffen, executive vice president of Norpass, acknowledged that most of the Norpass transponders are in Oregon.
“But we have seven other states with a lot of weigh stations,” he said. “We did this because we felt there was great potential. The carriers’ needs and the program’s contributions are more important than concerns Oregon has expressed. We thought this was the right business decision and good for the carriers.”
Oregon said it will cooperate with other states that want to make their preclearance systems interoperable with its Green Light preclearance system.
The next stage of interoperability, in which PrePass carriers would get access to the Norpass system, still is under discussion, according to a joint announcement from the companies.
In order to use PrePass, Norpass carriers must complete a PrePass application, which requires a safety clearance that is similar to the Norpass clearance. Norpass carriers must pay the same fee that PrePass carriers pay, plus a one-time verification charge.
Norpass carriers can learn if their transponder will work with PrePass by calling 877-229-7277. To apply for PrePass clearance, call 800-773-7277.

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