CHARLESTON, SC - Continuing its efforts to reduce port-related air emissions, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) has completed the first truck survey in the Southeast and is collaborating on a regional program aimed at helping truck owners replace the oldest trucks.

The truck survey, which was compiled by Wilbur Smith Associates, represents the first comprehensive look at trucks serving a major port in the region.

The survey examined fleet age and trip frequency for trucks working in the Port of Charleston, with emphasis on quantifying the population of the oldest trucks - those with engine model years 1993 and older.

The survey revealed that a relatively small number of trucks - the true local drayage fleet - do most of the work in the port.

Of the nearly 13,000 individual trucks that visited the port's terminals during a 12-month period, 20 percent of the trucks moved about 90 percent of the cargo. Of the trucks that visited the port at least 52 times a year, about 10 percent (or 262 trucks) were pre-1994 model year trucks.

To reduce emissions and assist truck drivers in replacing their pre-1994 trucks with newer, more efficient rigs, the SCSPA is collaborating with the Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on a program that would cover ports across the region.

"Both the Coalition for Responsible Transportation and the Environmental Defense Fund have had great success working with ports on truck programs that make economic and environmental sense for our industry," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCSPA.  "We've been pleased to collaborate with them and we look forward to formulating a voluntary, regional approach."

The multi-dimensional program, which could be implemented as soon as next year through a mix of public and private funding, could involve one or more of the following elements:

  • A "scrapping" incentive for truck owners to replace their pre-1994 trucks.
  • Low-interest loans or leases on new trucks.
  • Retrofits to further reduce emissions from diesel engines.

The right kind of truck replacement program is good for the environment and for the truck owner as well.  Newer trucks increase the owner's productivity and profitability by reducing maintenance and fuel consumption.

Importantly, the program would help make upgraded equipment attainable and financially viable for all truck owners, both companies and independent owner-operators.

"Local truckers are a vital component of the maritime transportation industry," said Newsome. "It is essential that we have a healthy, profitable local drayage fleet.  This program will provide a means to upgrade equipment, cut operating costs, while realizing environmental benefits for the Charleston area."

"Trucking represents an essential part of commerce," said James Jack, executive director of CRT, a national coalition of leading cargo owners, trucking companies, ocean carriers and clean truck manufacturers. "Our goal is to engage stakeholders from the public and the private sector to work together to reduce diesel pollution at our ports. The Port of Charleston demonstrated its leadership early on in the process and will be instrumental to the program's overall success."

"Collaboration among groups creates solutions that mean real strides in reducing pollutants in our communities," said Dr. Elena Craft of EDF, a national environmental non-profit that partners with business, governments and communities to find practical environmental solutions. "The SCSPA's efforts are encouraging, and we look forward to working with the Port of Charleston on this endeavor."

The truck program will continue the SCSPA's successful collaboration with the local transportation industry on environmental projects. In two Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant rounds, the SCSPA developed more than $5.2 million in programs to cut emissions and fuel consumption.  These projects installed cleaner, more fuel-efficient engines in port equipment (such as cranes and harbor craft) and helped trucking companies and owner-operators upgrade more than 110 trucks, improving fuel utilization while reducing air emissions.

The SCSPA's "Pledge for Growth" environmental program has been recognized for its environmental leadership by numerous organizations from within and outside the industry, including the EPA, the American Association of Port Authorities, Inbound Logistics magazine and the Maritime Association of South Carolina.

The truck survey is available here.