Groundbreaking Study Provides First Comprehensive Measurement of Truck Queuing and Visit Times at the Ports

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PierPass Inc. and Ability/Tri-Modal Transportation Services Inc. today released the results of the Turn Time Study that uses Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking to provide a common language and set of facts that the port community can use to discuss truck queuing and terminal visit times at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

This study helps the port community discuss visit times based on factual information rather than on anecdotes, and provides the community a common set of metrics.

It evaluates three time periods: queue time, spent waiting in line outside the gates; terminal time, measuring from the entry gate to the exit gate; and visit time, the sum of queue and terminal time.

Key findings of the study include:

  • The median queue time in October was 20 minutes and the terminal time 31 minutes, for a total median visit time of 51 minutes.
  • The vast majority of visits take less than two hours: 27% are under 30 minutes, 58% under an hour, 75% under one and a half hours, and 86% under two hours. A further 12% of visits take two to four hours, and 1% to 2% of visits take between four and eight hours. 
  • About 91% of queue times were under an hour.
  • The median queue and visit times include trucks that choose to arrive early to wait for the 6:00 p.m. OffPeak to start.
  • The study found that daytime visits are shortest for trucks that arrive at 15:00. Median visit time for trucks arriving between 15:00 and 16:00 was 45 minutes, while for trucks arriving between 17:00 and 18:00 median visit time was 90 minutes, reflecting the 17:00 meal break.

When cargo volumes rebounded in the spring and summer of 2010, terminal operators opened additional service hours to hold down congestion. Those investments proved effective: while cargo volumes increased 6% from May to October, visit time decreased 13%, the study showed.

Stay tuned to PierPASS.org for a video about the study, as well as an interview with Dr. Noronha, president of Digital Geographic Research Corp., which conducted the study. Read the Turn Time Study Executive Summary.