As we come out of a terrible strike situation, with 9 of the 13 container terminals having been closed to receiving of export cargo and delivery of import cargo for over a week, we will be facing some very real operational challenges in order to get the cargo moving again. Marine terminal operators are committed to facilitating this effort.
Terminal operators are undertaking a series of efforts to help customers get caught up on cargo moves through the port. These efforts include:
- Flex-starting the gates one hour prior to the evening shift start to help get trucks in and out of the gates
- Adding additional labor to relieve gate operations for continuous receipt and delivery of trucks during breaks and lunch hours
- Adding extra OffPeak shifts
These changes will begin immediately and continue until the backlog of containers is addressed. Please check the PierPass web sites www.pierpass.org and www.pierpass-tmf.org for the current OffPeak Schedule.
WORKING TOGETHER TO AVOID CONGESTION
Terminals are currently uncongested. In the coming days, as waiting ships and trains arrive, we expect congestion to temporarily increase. As described above, the terminals are adding flex gates, additional labor and extra shifts to maximize throughput and quickly work through any backlog.
To minimize delays at the terminals and avoid trouble tickets, PierPass urges trucking companies and drivers to check the availability of import containers or the validity of export booking numbers before coming to the terminal. All terminals have web-based availability systems that allow dispatchers and cargo owners to double-check before prematurely sending a trucker to the terminal. They can also use eModal.com.
In addition, truckers can check gate conditions in real time through the live gate cams at http://pierpass.org/live/.
OFFPEAK NIGHT GATES GREATLY REDUCE CONGESTION
Some cargo interests have asked PierPass to temporarily suspend the Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) while the backlog is cleared. The terminal operators have evaluated and rejected the idea, which we believe could greatly increase congestion in the short term and risk undermining OffPeak’s long-term solution to port congestion.
The TMF supports the OffPeak night and Saturday shifts that ease the strain of port operation on local communities. OffPeak shifts handle an average of 75,000 truck trips in a typical week, or about 55% of container moves. If the OffPeak shifts were eliminated, most of these trips would take place in peak daytime traffic, causing heavy congestion and increasing air pollution.
The TMF, which is charged on daytime container moves, provides an incentive for cargo to move at night, and pays for most of the night and Saturday OffPeak gates. OffPeak helps to spread traffic across more hours, makes better use of valuable port assets, reduces the uncertainty of delivery times, improves turn time for trucks and drivers, and reduces traffic on local highways during commute hours.
The program has worked very effectively for over eight years, mitigating the congestion at the terminals and in and around neighborhoods and freeways with no city, state or federal subsidies. Since 2005, more than 21 million truck moves have taken place during OffPeak hours. In keeping days and nights open for trucks, our ports are more effective and productive.
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