The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will increase the PierPass fee to $144.18 per 40′ effective August 1, 2017. The PierPass program assesses a Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) on all loaded container transactions completed during the day shift while the same transactions at night and on weekends are free.
The original goal of the program was to reduce traffic congestion on roadways surrounding the port area. There has always been quite a bit of discord about the amount of the fee and the lack of visibility of how it is spent.
Former chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission and former president of the Long Beach Harbor Commission has been chosen as executive director of the Port of Long Beach. Cordero will assume the post this month and has said, “I am so pleased to be coming back home to the Port of Long Beach during this time of dramatic change in the maritime industry.”
Back in 2006, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced their joint Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) with the goal of reducing emission levels for trucks, yard equipment and ships. The ports differed on the subject of Los Angeles’ requirement that all truck drivers serving their port complex be employees rather than independent owner-operators. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) sued the port on the grounds it violated federal law (Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act – F4A) and won in the US Supreme Court in 2013.
Fast forward, the ports have announced an update to their plan. CAAP 2017 will require further emission reductions and the use of zero-emission vehicles (which are not even feasible yet). Some of the plan highlights are:
- Phase in clean engine standards for trucks and transition to zero-emission drayage trucks by 2035.
- Transition to zero-emission yard equipment by 2030.
- Expand the use of on-dock rail with a goal of 50% of all inbound cargo leaving by rail.
- Develop charging standards for electric cargo-handling equipment.
- Explore short-haul rail, staging yards, truck appointment systems, off-terminal queueing, intelligent transportation systems and other strategies for enhancing efficiencies across the supply chain.
- Develop infrastructure plans to support the electrification and use of alternative fuels for terminal equipment.
We are currently in a 90-day comment period. If you have suggestions or opinions you wish to share with the San Pedro Bay port authorities regarding CAAP 2017, you may do so through February 17, 2017 via this email link
The effects of containers stacking up at West Coast ports is far-reaching. Inland rail depots in Chicago and Memphis are experiencing inconsistent surges of cargo. There are not enough trucks to move the containers out in the limited free time available, and the winter weather is not helping.
Container vessels, 20 at the latest count, sit outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The longer these ships sit, the more issues it creates downstream for other ports both in the US and abroad. Berthing times at busy ports around the world are very difficult to come by, and when they are missed, it could be days before a slot opens up. It has become such a problem that Evergreen is dropping Los Angeles and Oakland port calls from its NUE service.
It has also been surmised the lack of fluidity in containers and vessel schedules, will likely result in container shortages in Asia…just in time for the pre-Chinese New Year push.
Let us not forget the long-term effects on the psyche of the West Coast shipper. The congestion and labor unrest continue to tarnish the reputation of West Coast ports and drive business to other gateways on the East and Gulf Coasts as well as Canada and Mexico.
From New York/New Jersey to Vancouver, BC…from Virginia to Oakland…even Los Angeles/Long Beach…drivers are fed up with the slow operations and congestion at marine terminals. The reasons for the slowdowns are myriad. Inclement weather, new computer systems, terminal consolidations, increase in volumes, chassis shortages, labor shortages and equipment failures are the most common.
Motor carriers, port authorities and industry groups are clamoring for improvement and a return to productive operations. Letters have been written. Task forces have been created. But the slowdowns remain. We cannot keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different outcome. Isn’t that a definition of insanity?
Ports America in Oakland is looking to stop the insanity. For the month of March, they are implementing a night gate each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6:00pm to 3:00am. They will accept empty containers in and empty and loaded containers out. It is a trial to gauge the usage and productivity improvements. Motor carriers’ past experience with off-hour gates has not been overly positive, and it will take substantial coordination on container availability both in and out as well as driver hours of service. Nevertheless, we applaud Ports America on making this significant investment in an effort to smooth operations. We will keep you posted on the progress and effectiveness of these night gates.