[Federal Register: August 6, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 152)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[Docket No. FMCSA-2007-28055]
Demonstration Project on NAFTA Trucking Provisions
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of extension of demonstration project.
SUMMARY: FMCSA announces the extension of the demonstration project
allowing up to 100 Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond
the U.S. border commercial zones, and the same number of U.S. carriers
to operate in Mexico, from one year to the full three years allowed by
statute, 49 U.S.C. 31315. Reciprocally, Mexico has agreed to allow
U.S.-domiciled motor carriers in the demonstration project to continue
to operate in Mexico for up to three years.
DATES: This notice is effective upon publication.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Milt Schmidt, Division Chief,
North American Borders Division, Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration, Telephone (202) 366-4049; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters
and Mexico's Secretary of Communications and Transportation Luis Tollez
Kuenzler announced a demonstration project to implement certain
trucking provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
in February 2007. The project was expected to last one year. FMCSA's
notice inaugurating the project stated that "[t]he demonstration
project has a one-year limit" (72 FR 23883, 23884, May 1, 2007).
Shortly thereafter Congress required the Department of
Transportation (DOT) to satisfy a series of new conditions before
starting the demonstration project. See section 6901 of the "U.S.
Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq
Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007" [hereafter: "Iraq
Supplemental"], Pub. L. 110-28, 121 Stat. 112, 183, May 25, 2007.
Section 6901 imposed limits on DOT's use of appropriated funds to grant
authority to Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the
border commercial zones. In particular, section 6901(a) required that
the granting of such authority be tested as part of a pilot program
meeting the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 31315(c) and that the pilot
program also comply with the requirements of section 350 of Public Law
107-87 (115 Stat. 833, 864, December 18, 2001). Section 350, enacted by
the 2002 DOT Appropriations Act and reenacted in every subsequent
annual DOT appropriations act, set forth additional requirements FMCSA
must meet as a condition of granting Mexico-domiciled motor carriers
authority to operate in the United States. A pilot program under Sec.
31315(c) must include, among other things, a "scheduled life * * * of
not more than 3 years."
As demonstrated in the Federal Register notices of June 8 and
August 17, 2007 (72 FR 31877 and 72 FR 46263, respectively), FMCSA met
all of the conditions established by section 6901 of the Iraq
Supplemental, including compliance with section 350. The demonstration
project was initiated on September 6, 2007, after Secretary Peters
submitted to Congress the Department's response to the report by the
DOT Office of Inspector General verifying compliance with section 350,
as required by section 6901(b)(1) and (b)(2)(A). FMCSA issued
provisional operating authority to the first Mexico-domiciled motor
carrier the same day. However, uncertainties concerning the length and
viability of the demonstration project may have deterred a significant
number of carriers, both from Mexico and the United States, from
seeking to participate in the project. For example, many Mexico-
domiciled motor carriers who previously expressed an interest in
operating beyond the border commercial zones have not pursued such
authority through the demonstration project. Additionally, we have been
advised that other Mexico-domiciled carriers who received approval for
project participation are not participating because they are reluctant
to incur substantial costs related to obtaining insurance to operate in
the United States and developing a customer base for long-haul
operations, in the face of these uncertainties. The result is that the
number of Mexico-domiciled carriers operating under the
demonstration project is smaller than expected: currently, 27 carriers
are operating 107 trucks. Although these carriers have made 9,983 trips
into the United States, most of these carriers had destinations in the
commercial zones; they have performed 1,272 long-haul trips beyond the
border zones. Concurrently, many U.S.-domiciled motor carriers have
expressed concern at the high cost of maintaining an official legal
representative in Mexico, especially due to their belief that a minimum
of two years is needed to develop sustainable business relationships
with Mexican shippers. This has resulted in a limited number of U.S.
carriers participating in the demonstration project. At the moment,
only 10 U.S. carriers are participating and they are operating only 55
vehicles. They have made 2,245 trips across the Mexican border.
In order to ensure the demonstration project can be reviewed and
evaluated on the basis of a more comprehensive body of data, FMCSA has
decided to extend the project from one year up to the full three years
allowed by statute. The U.S. and Mexico will continue to limit the
project to a maximum of 100 of each other's motor carriers and will
provide for reciprocal authority. In addition, the U.S. will require
participating Mexican carriers and drivers to comply with all
applicable U.S. laws and regulations. The extension will enable FMCSA
to collect and analyze a larger volume of safety and operational data,
which is the fundamental goal of the demonstration project. We believe
an extension will provide non-participating motor carriers, both in
Mexico and the United States, added incentives to join the project,
knowing that their investment in long-haul foreign operations will have
more time to mature and become profitable.
Issued on: July 31, 2008.
John H. Hill,
[FR Doc. E8-17946 Filed 8-4-08; 9:15 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P