Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Truckers say L.A.'s 'green' port costs them money

He is among about 10,000 drivers who provide a lifeline at the nation's busiest port complex, hauling containers from the seaport to far-flung warehouses and distribution centers for clients ranging from small firms to giants such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Rite Aid. Many say they have long endured extended hours, high stress and relatively low pay, even in the days when business boomed with galloping multibillion-dollar commerce with Asia. Life was supposed to get better for them with the coming of the city's much-ballyhooed Clean Truck Program, which is widely credited with helping to upgrade air quality. The program, a major priority of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is billed as a national model for cutting air pollution at diesel-choked port communities from Seattle to Miami. The concept — to replace smog-spawning clunkers with newer and cleaner rigs — promised to slash emissions and offer a new deal for beleaguered port truckers, many of them immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Yet, although officials say the area's air has improved markedly since the initiative was launched two years ago, Mejia and other drivers say their plight has gotten worse. Many have gone from being owners of polluting rigs to leasers of late-model "clean" trucks, valued at $100,000 to $200,000 — beyond what most drivers can afford to purchase. The new vehicles yield diminished carbon footprints, thanks to green technology. But, drivers say, the new models also cost at least 50% more to operate than their exhaust-spewing predecessors, on top of the lease payments to trucking companies. Besides paying leases that often exceed $1,000 a month, drivers say, they must absorb higher costs for insurance, registration, service and other expenses for the trucks, which feature technology like diesel particulate filters. Maintenance generally must be done at certified shops or dealers, not by the cut-rate mechanics who once serviced their rigs. The lease process, drivers say, means that much of the financial burden — including paying for servicing needed to maintain trucks' green capabilities — falls on drivers...more

I thought these guys were for the economically disadvantaged, the...Nope. Be green or be gone.

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