LONG BEACH, Calif., March 18, 2015 —In the wake of a tentative labor deal announced Feb. 20 and the formation of a port-wide chassis pool on March 1, marine terminals at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach moved 46% more cargo containers by truck during the first half of March compared with the same period in February, PierPass Inc. said today.
From March 2 through March 15, nearly 303,000 import and export containers moved by truck into or out of the terminals, compared to nearly 207,000 from Feb. 2 through Feb. 15, according to gate transaction data collected by PierPass. These include containers moved during day shifts and the OffPeak shifts managed by PierPass on nights and Saturdays. The OffPeak program diverts about half of port truck trips out of Monday-through-Friday daytime traffic while roughly doubling the capacity of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
According to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, there were 30 ships waiting to be unloaded at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports on Monday March 16, down from 36 on Feb. 26.
“The terminals are intensely focused on returning to normal operations as quickly as possible,” said John Cushing, president of PierPass, which represents the 13 container terminals at the two adjacent ports. “While much work remains to be done, we can report progress in accelerating cargo movement by mid- March.”
PierPass today also reported some progress in reducing transaction times for trucks at the terminals. Average truck turn times dropped during the month of February (most of which fell before the Feb. 20 labor agreement) compared with January. It took trucks an average of 49.6 minutes to complete one transaction (picking up or delivering a container) on the Peak (weekday daytime) shift in February, down from 60.9 minutes in January. On OffPeak shifts, turn times in February averaged 53 minutes, down from 55.8 minutes in January.
In another move to reduce the cargo backlog, two terminals have leased additional port-owned land in order to accept empty containers and make more room for imports and exports. A third terminal has leased additional land to where it is bringing loaded containers mounted on chassis ready for truckers to pick up.
Terminal operators continue to work with trucking companies and cargo owners to increase the use of free-flow, sometimes known as peel-off, a practice PierPass has promoted to reduce truck waiting times. Free-flow enables bulk delivery of large groups of containers destined for the same location, typically to a single cargo owner. The terminals pre-stage the containers in a separate stack. The cargo owner then sends a stream of trucks into the terminal and each truck takes the next container in the stack.
“We have been very proactive with different terminal efficiency tools that include our appointment system and peel-off piles,” said Rickey Childs, head of operations for Eagle Marine Services. “We continue to work with the trucking community for increased OffPeak utilization, especially during the second half of the shift when there is minimal truck activity at the gates.”
On March 1, three of the largest chassis leasing companies at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports formed a gray chassis “pool of pools” intended to solve the chassis supply disruption that emerged last year after shipping lines sold their chassis to private leasing companies. The new system makes chassis interchangeable for truckers and terminals. The three leasing companies control about 100,000 chassis in Southern California.