Trucking Companies Help Drivers Purchase New Trucks

by Jana Ritter - Published: 12/17/2013

In 2008 California ports enacted a Clean Trucks Program to reduce the number of polluting trucks operating at the port. But, requiring trucks that do business at the ports to be 2007 and newer has pushed the cost of buying a truck from $5,000 to $15,000 for an to more than $100,000 for port-compliant trucks.

Desert truck

Now transportation companies such as Rancho Dominguez-based Total Transportation Services Inc. and Long Beach-based Progressive Transportation Services, have established Pathway to Ownership, lease-to-own programs to help independent trucking contractors own new trucks. The companies buy the trucks and act as financiers to contractors. Earlier this month, Progressive Transportation Services recognized 68 independent owners who recently earned their own clean truck through the program. More drivers from both companies are expected to own their trucks free and clear in the coming months.

For Jorge Gomez and his son Jorge Jr., A few years ago, the Gardena resident asked his oldest son to be his partner in the drayage trucking business, which involved ferrying containers to and from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles with a 1996 Peterbilt truck. Because they decided to split the cost of the new truck and work alternating shifts, the Gomezes were able to pay off the truck in October after 4 ½ years, becoming one of the first to finish the lease-to-own program in the state.

“We found that most of the independent contractors were not credit-worthy, so we needed to come up with a solution,” said Vic La Rosa, president of trucking company and logistics provider TTSI, which is helping more than 150 contractors under the Pathway to Ownership program. “The more opportunities we can provide for these independent contractors, the more our business will grow.” Under La Rosa’s program, a contractor can own a $115,000 truck after six years by making monthly payments of $1,500 for 72 months. Trucking companies often receive state and federal grants to offset the remaining costs.

On Jan. 1, the California Air Resources Board will ban trucks with 2006 and older engines at ports and rail yards statewide

 “A historic transformation is underway in the harbor complex, and soon throughout the state of California,” said Kevin Dukesherer, an owner of Progressive and a founding member of the Clean Truck Coalition, a group of area trucking firms that use clean trucks.

.“Motor carriers are investing millions of dollars in new, clean trucks and making it possible for independent drivers to build their own small businesses,” Dukesherer said. “Air quality is dramatically improved. And the ports are safer and more secure than ever before.”