CTA to fight “eye popping” UCRA hike proposal

OTTAWA — Now is not the time to increase fees of the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement (UCRA), Canadian and American truckers insist.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has joined other carrier groups, including the American Trucking Associations, in coming out strongly against a proposal from the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that would see UCRA rates rise for some carriers by 122 percent.

For some large carriers, this would push the annual levy from $37,500 to $83,412.

The fee proposal comes after months of wrangling between carrier and government representatives on the UCRA Board of Directors. Unable to reach a consensus on the appropriate fee structure for 2010, the FMCSA published a proposed rule with "eye-popping" increases especially at a time when the industry is being battered by the worst recession in memory, says CTA.

A proposal to increase the American UCRA
fee could double the rate from some truckers

CTA is most concerned that a main reason big reason for such high fees relates to deficiencies in the system for assigning and collecting fees from carriers.

In some cases carriers have been under-reporting the number of qualifying vehicles in order to move into a lower fee bracket — called “bracket shifting” – and there are recognized shortcomings in states’ collection efforts.

"What has been created, in effect, is a system whereby carriers who comply with the law are paying a fee premium to cover those who don’t, and will in all likelihood escape detection by the states," says CTA’s Ron Lennox.

On the bright side, the removal of trailers from the fee calculation (it is now based solely on the number of straight trucks and tractors used in interstate commerce) will benefit some carriers by pushing them into a lower fee bracket. A rate adjustment to compensate for fewer qualifying pieces of equipment, in order to produce the same revenue stream, appears reasonable, says CTA.

"(However), no carrier should be required to pay more unless and until FMCSA can demonstrate that adequate steps have been taken to address deficiencies in the collection of UCRA fees," says Lennox 

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