Padding the numbers: U.S.-owned carriers using U.S. trucks

By Jami Jones, senior editor

The one major hurdle the cross-border pilot program faces that Department of Transportation insiders acknowledge is it must produce a statistically valid representation of Mexico’s long-haul trucking potential.

Given the initial lack of participation, that seems to be an even taller hurdle than initially anticipated.

But OOIDA is even more concerned with how the DOT seems to be circumventing this problem by padding the program with U.S. motor carriers using U.S. trucks.

Transportes Olympic is owned by Fernando Paez. FMCSA records reflect two motor carriers in the U.S. owned by Paez. Those being Fernando Paez Transport Inc., doing business as Olympic Transport, and OMC Carriers LLC, doing business as OMC.

The DOT initially reported that Mexico-based Transportes Olympic had two vehicles approved to operate in the cross-border pilot program. The vehicle identification numbers on those two trucks turned up in information connected to the U.S.-based Paez companies.

“While the program has been set up in such a way this sort of thing is not illegal, it is certainly a violation of the spirit of the program and what it is designed to test,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said.

The bigger issue for both U.S. and Mexican truckers is why this is happening.

OOIDA Member Jose Escott has an interesting perspective on the cross-border issue. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen who legally emigrated from Mexico many, many years ago. He knows the hard times Mexican truckers face. He shared that with the media at a press conference held at the Otay Mesa truck inspection facility in October.

“When I first learned to drive a truck 30 years ago in Mexico, there was very little opportunity for employment as a driver because of Mexico’s poor economy at the time. Yet, here I stand now on this side of that border … and we’re about to begin a process of exporting U.S. truckers’ jobs.”

Even as he apologized for his accented English, he summed up the façade of the cross-border program as he sees it.

“The truth is: The opportunity to truck into Mexico is an illusion except for all but the largest American motor carriers already operating there,” Escott said. “The same big guys here (in the U.S.) who are screwing us are going to be doing the same over there.” LL