California harbor truckers warn of 2023 drayage shortage

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor | May 26, 2022 4:50PM EDT

Harbor truckers are warning of almost a 30 percent drop in truck capacity in California’s container ports come Jan. 1, 2023, when a state mandate allowing only 2010 or newer model-year trucks at their marine terminals takes effect.

Matt Schrap, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association, said about 28 percent of the approximately 20,000 trucks in the Los Angeles–Long Beach drayage truck registry (DTR) will be older than the 2010 model year. Given the fact that many dealerships say it is taking a year or longer to deliver trucks due to the shortage of parts and computer chips at truck manufacturing plants, demand for new trucks will likely exceed supply.

“There is a concern there will be a shortage of truck capacity,” Schrap told Wednesday.

Newer trucks are entering the drayage fleet at a steady clip, said Heather Tomley, managing director of planning and environmental affairs at the Port of Long Beach. The port’s latest numbers show that as of April the projection is that 25.8 percent of the current vehicles in the DTR will be ineligible to operate in the harbor.

“That said, a quarter of the truck fleet is still a lot. We have raised this issue with CARB [California Air Resources Board],” Tomley told

The ports have worked with the HTA, which has member companies in Southern and Northern California, and with CARB to ensure that as long as owner operators and fleet owners have placed orders with dealers by Sept. 1, they will be able to operate their existing trucks beyond Jan. 1 until they take delivery of the new vehicles.

Even with that exemption, though, harbor truckers will be challenged because the ports are permitted under the CARB On-Road Truck and Bus Drayage Truck statewide regulations to set higher standards. The ports require that trucks which are newly added to the DTR must be 2014 model year or newer. In other words, a trucker can purchase from another trucker a 2010 model truck that is already in the registry, but after Jan. 1 the purchase of any truck that is not in the DTR must be 2014 or newer.

Truck rig prices are soaring

Cost will also be a limiting factor. In a March 11 letter to CARB, the HTA and 25 partner organizations cited an ACT Research report that found average used truck prices are up 83 percent compared to January 2021.

“Truck owners unable to locate or purchase affordable used trucks will be forced from the marketplace, adding to the supply chain difficulties that are a significant factor in the inflationary pressures facing our economy,” the letter said.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on April 1 began assessing a fee, known as the clean truck fund rate, of $10 per TEU on moves by non-zero-emission (ZE) trucks, which at present is virtually all container moves in the harbor. The proceeds will go back to the industry in the form of subsidies to truckers for the purchase of electric or battery-powered trucks, and for construction of charging stations and related infrastructure.

Tomley said the subsidies will go only toward the purchase of ZE trucks, not diesel trucks. Schrap said EVs cost about $350,000, or about three times the cost of a new diesel truck, and the port subsidies are $150,000 each, so smaller operators and fleet owners may struggle to purchase electric vehicles.