The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that states participating in the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) plan may assess and collect fees for the plan under the current FMCSA regulation.
Up until now, FMCSA had put a moratorium on collection of UCR fees, and no fees have been collected for the 2010 registration year. FMCSA’s notice of regulatory guidance published in the March 2 Federal Register means that states have the option to assess UCR fees at the same rates that were applicable in 2009. States that participate in collection of the UCR fees will have these funds available to meet their share of costs for Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) grants.
FMCSA had proposed to significantly increase rates for the UCR plan beginning January 1, 2010. The fee increase was first made public when FMCSA published the proposal September 2, 2009 and only allowed for a 15-day comment period. TRALA submitted comments requesting more time to consider the proposal. The comment period was extended to 60 days, allowing TRALA and other industry groups to submit comments in opposition to the fee increase.
The UCR Agreement was enacted as part of the highway authorization bill passed in 2005, known as SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users). TRALA succeeded in securing a low, flat fee for leasing companies under the UCR plan, arguing that motor carriers would be responsible for paying fees based on their fleet size, which includes leased trucks. Currently the fee for leasing companies is $39 per fleet per year. Under FMCSA’s most recent proposal, the fee would increase to $83. Similar increases would apply to motor carrier fleets.
FMCSA must still publish a final rule and fee structure for the UCR plan for the 2010 registration year. Any state that assesses fees before the final rule is published will be able to go back and collect the balance of the remaining fees based on FMCSA’s final rule.