Since 2009, the Drayage Loan Program (DLP) has worked to replace older, more polluting trucks in the Houston area with newer, cleaner trucks by providing critical funding and support to local independent owner operators and drayage fleets. (Drayage is a term used to mean the transport of goods over a short distance). The innovative program, administered by the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) and supported by the Port of Houston Authority, Environmental Defense Fund, and numerous drayage companies and truck dealerships, combines low-interest loans and substantial grants to fund the fleet turnover. This effort has led to the successful replacement of 138 drayage trucks, engaged numerous drivers and carriers, and has spent nearly the entire original EPA SmartWay grant. The DLP has also leveraged grants and other financial opportunities, including state TERP funding. At full implementation, the program is expected to eliminate 1,638 tons of nitrogen oxide, 26.7 tons of particulate matter, and 3,636 tons of carbon dioxide. This represents an important step toward reducing air pollution in the Houston area.
The end of this year, however, marks the official conclusion of the Drayage Loan Program based on the original EPA funding award. This means that any drivers, fleet managers, or others interested in the program should act as soon as possible by submitting an application to HGAC. While there is still sufficient loan and grant funding available, there is limited time to disburse those funds. An amended form of the program is expected to continue into next year, though there may be less funding available due to the conclusion of the original terms.
The DLP has achieved significant emissions reductions benefits for the Houston area and all of the project partners remain committed to work with community and industry stakeholders to bring healthier air to the Houston region. This program is a model of multi-sector partnerships and innovative financing opportunities that can serve to inspire similar efforts.
More information, including loan and grant application materials, may be found at HGAC’s DLP website.