One Year In, “PierPass 2.0” Smooths Truck Traffic at Los Angeles & Long Beach Ports

One Year In, “PierPass 2.0” Smooths Truck Traffic at Los Angeles & Long Beach Ports

Ample Appointments Available

LONG BEACH, Calif., Dec. 2, 2019—In the year since PierPass launched an appointments-based system for trucks picking up containers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, long late-afternoon queues have been eliminated, and ample appointment opportunities are available for each container. On average, port terminals are offering about a third more appointment slots than there are containers to be picked up.

Terminals have also been working with the trucking community and other stakeholders to add new types of appointment-based services to help truckers achieve greater efficiency, taking advantage of the scalability and flexibility they gained by switching to an appointment-based system.

“Terminals continue offering at least two peak shift and two off-peak shift appointments for each container prior to free time expiration, providing multiple options for each pickup,” said John Cushing, President and CEO of PierPass. “Over the past year, many terminals have also introduced new services. All of this gives the cargo community an enhanced traffic mitigation system, which is running smoothly one year in.”

The OffPeak program was restructured in November 2018. The revised program, informally called “PierPass 2.0,” reduces traffic congestion by spreading cargo movement across two shifts, using appointments rather than the daytime-only Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) used in the original OffPeak program that started in 2005. From July 2005 through October 2019, OffPeak has diverted 46.7 million truck trips from Los Angeles weekday daytime traffic.

The revised OffPeak program has achieved the major objectives of the overhaul, including eliminating the long truck queues that previously formed in late afternoons as trucks waited outside the terminals until 6:00 p.m. to avoid the TMF. All 12 terminals report that the late-afternoon queues outside their gates have been eliminated.

Appointments for Exports and Empties

Under the common business rules of the revised OffPeak program, all terminals provide appointments for picking up import containers. Over the past year, many terminals have also begun offering appointments for dropping off export and empty containers. These services make it easier to arrange dual transactions, with a single truck trip dropping off one container and picking up another one.

Of the 12 terminals, eight now offer appointments for exports and for empties.

“One of the advantages we expected from shifting to an appointments-based system was increased flexibility, allowing terminals to continue innovating to improve efficiency and meet evolving market needs,” Cushing said. “We are very pleased and encouraged to see this expectation being achieved.”

Same Day Canceling and Rebooking Capability

In another operational improvement, most terminals are now allowing same-day canceling and rebooking of appointments if an appointment is available. Terminals were able to make this enhancement through software modifications.

Also, one terminal has begun allowing trucking companies to make appointments for picking up containers several days before the ship docks, allowing truckers to better plan their workloads.

“The new appointment-based PierPass system is working, and we are encouraged that the terminals are responding to our recommendations for additional improvements to their appointment systems,” said Weston LaBar, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association. “We continue working with PierPass and the terminals to make the container pickup and delivery process faster and smoother for truckers and their customers.”

By providing additional shifts during off-peak hours, PierPass has allowed the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to make better use of their infrastructure and investments, allowing cargo volume to grow without negatively impacting traffic conditions.

Prior to the creation of PierPass in 2005, the two ports were struggling to handle cargo volume during the five existing shifts per week, causing severe traffic congestion. Significant capacity remains during the four additional shifts terminals are currently providing per week.

Appointments Remain Ample, No-Show Rate Holds Steady

During the third calendar quarter of 2019, a weighted average of 30% of available daytime appointments and 41% of available nighttime appointments went unused. This indicates that, on an aggregate basis, more than enough appointment slots are being made available by terminals.

When the program began last year, the percentage of no-shows (when the trucker fails to appear for an appointment) averaged between the mid-20s and the low-30s. For both of the past two quarters, no-shows were down to an average of 14% of peak-hour appointments and 15% of off-peak appointments, as terminals continued meetings and follow-up with trucking companies that repeatedly miss their appointments.

More information about the revised OffPeak program is available at PierPass is the agent of the West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA), a discussion agreement filed with the FMC. WCMTOA’s members are the 12 marine terminal operators at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

PierPass Posts “2.0” Update Results

One Third of Appointments Unused at LA/Long Beach Terminals Under Revised OffPeak Program

LONG BEACH, Calif., July 25, 2019—More than one third of available appointments for picking up or delivering cargo at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach go unused, leaving cargo owners with many available choices of appointment slots, according to terminal data newly compiled by PierPass Inc.

The appointment systems are the core of the revised OffPeak program—informally called “PierPass 2.0” — for mitigating traffic congestion at the largest container port complex in the U.S. Second-quarter 2019 data from the 12 container terminals at the two adjacent ports shows that the appointment systems offer significant flexibility and availability for cargo owners. Terminals also report that they no longer have lines of trucks queuing outside their gates in late afternoons.

During weekday daytime shifts at the terminals, a weighted average from the 12 terminals shows that 64% of appointments were used, leaving 36% of available slots unused. The same data shows that utilization was lower during OffPeak shifts (weeknights or Saturday), when 55% of appointments were used and 45% left unused. Utilization rates at individual terminals varied reflecting differences in their volumes and operational models.

“Terminals continue to offer two appointment opportunities during the peak shifts and two appointment opportunities during the OffPeak shifts prior to the last free day for each container,” said John Cushing, president of PierPass, which manages the OffPeak program. “The large number of unused appointment slots shows that the system has substantial capacity to handle additional growth and offers significant flexibility in appointment times.”

The revised OffPeak program has succeeded in achieving the goals of the overhaul launched last November. These include providing a scalable technology with appointment systems and reducing afternoon truck bunching. Trucking companies had asked PierPass to address the buildup of trucks outside the terminals between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The trucks had waited for the start of the OffPeak shift at 6:00 p.m. to avoid the Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) previously charged only on peak-hour cargo moves.

Under the revised OffPeak program, a lower, flat TMF is now charged on both day and night shifts, removing the incentive for trucks arriving late in the afternoon to wait until 6:00 p.m. to take their cargo. The new appointment systems mitigate traffic flow to scheduled appointment windows instead of just between the two shifts.

“The late-afternoon queuing at the terminals has been eliminated,” Mr. Cushing said.

Terminals continue to caution trucking companies against waiting until the last free day to try to pick up a load. Those doing so might not be able to get an appointment on the last free day (the last day to pick up a container without incurring demurrage charges). Terminals recommend that users select from the appointment opportunities presented as soon as they are made available.

Terminals have been conducting outreach to work with truckers on using the appointment systems effectively. This has included ongoing meetings and follow-up with trucking companies that repeatedly miss their appointments.

At the start of the program, the percentage of booked appointments when the trucker failed to show up averaged between the mid-20s and the low-30s. Ports-wide in the second quarter, the average of no-shows has dropped to 14% during the first shift and 15% during OffPeak shifts.

In 2018, it cost terminals $288 million to operate night and Saturday shifts under the OffPeak program. The program collected $216.5 million in Traffic Mitigation Fees to partially offset the added costs.

More information about the revised OffPeak program is available at PierPass is the agent of the West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA), a discussion agreement filed with the FMC. WCMTOA’s members are the 12 marine terminal operators at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

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TMF at Ports of LA and Long Beach to Increase 1.9% on August 1, 2019

LONG BEACH, Calif., June 28, 2019– The West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA) today announced that on August 1, 2019, the Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will increase by 1.9 percent. The adjustment matches the combined 1.9 percent increase in longshore wage and assessment rates that take effect June 29.

Beginning August 1, the TMF will be $32.12 per TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) or $64.24 per forty-foot container. The TMF is charged on non-exempt containers. Containers exempt from the TMF include empty containers; import cargo or export cargo that transits the Alameda Corridor in a container and is subject to a fee imposed by the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority; and transshipment cargo. Empty chassis and bobtail trucks are also exempt.

The OffPeak program provides regularly scheduled night or Saturday shifts to handle trucks delivering and picking up containers at the 12 container terminals in the two adjacent ports. PierPass launched the OffPeak program in 2005 to reduce severe cargo-related congestion and air pollution on local streets and highways around the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Nearly half of all port truck trips now take place during the off-peak shifts. The container terminal operators mitigate truck traffic at their gates with appointment systems.

The TMF helps offset the cost of operating extended gate hours. Labor costs are the largest single component of extended gate costs.

According to an analysis by maritime industry consultants SC Analytics, the net costs incurred by the terminals to operate the off-peak shifts in 2018 totaled $288 million. During that year, the terminals received $217.5 million from the TMF, offsetting about 76 percent of the OffPeak program’s costs.

About PierPass
PierPass is a not-for-profit company created by marine terminal operators at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach to address multi-terminal issues such as congestion, air quality and security. The West Coast Marine Terminal Operator Agreement (WCMTOA) is filed with the Federal Maritime Commission, and comprises the 12 international MTOs serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. For more information, please see