Vancouver, BC — The Port of Vancouver announced that effective January 1, 2018, the amount the port authority charges container trucking companies that are authorized to operate within the port will be changed to benefit smaller companies.
According to the port authority, the changes are being made in response to feedback from smaller trucking companies and government who said the charges were disproportionate.
“We heard concerns from trucking companies and the Government of Canada, including Lower Mainland Members of Parliament,” said Peter Xotta, vice president planning and operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “We took that feedback seriously and believe we have now addressed the concerns raised.”
About one third of those companies authorized to access the port, representing the smaller companies, will pay $25,000 per year instead of the previous $35,000. The port authority’s Truck Licensing System is operated on a cost-recovery basis, so the savings realized by the smaller companies will be equally distributed across the largest.
“In setting the new access charges, the port authority proposed three alternative solutions and presented them to local container trucking companies and government for review and discussion,” continued Xotta. “Changes were made to incorporate what we heard, which ultimately led us to a solution that will benefit the industry overall.”
Trucking companies were formally advised of the changes to the access charges and provided with amended access agreements on November 1, 2017, providing 60-days written notice before the new structure goes into effect on January 1, 2018.
The new figures are charged to cover the cost of the framework — set up in 2014 by the federal and provincial governments and the port authority — to address driver concerns including compensation. The port authority improved its Truck Licensing System and the province created the Office of the B.C. Trucking Commissioner, including a whistle-blowing mechanism and an audit program that issues financial penalties to trucking companies that do not pay drivers according to agreed wages.
Since that time, the port authority has implemented a number of changes to improve efficiency. Drivers are now compensated by the terminal operators when they are forced to wait at a terminal above acceptable limits. According to a recent report, the Port of Vancouver now has the most efficient container truck operations of any North American West Coast port, with terminal wait times in the port half the average of other West Coast ports. Only about nine per cent of drivers are forced to wait beyond set limits, and since 2014 over $4 million in wait-time penalties has been paid out to these drivers by port terminals.
Xotta went on to say that continued engagement with industry and government is critical to ensuring fairness for drivers and the smooth movement of goods throughout the port and the Lower Mainland. “We are very pleased with the support from our partners in the federal and provincial governments,” he said.
The container trucking sector falls primarily within the jurisdiction of the provincial government, while the port authority controls which trucks can access the port and enforces environmental standards to control air emissions from those trucks. The Office of the B.C. Container Trucking Commissioner manages the enforcement of statutory trip rates, hourly rates and fuel surcharges, the maintenance and enforcement of B.C. License terms, and the establishment and management of the number of tags issued to each company and allocated to the trucks.