Night hour inefficiencies spark tensions among Ports of LA, Long Beach stakeholders

Dive Brief:

  • Inefficiencies and lack of communication between truckers, beneficial cargo owners and port managers have thus far sparked controversy over the extended gate hours program at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, The Journal of Commerce reported last week.
  • The controversy over the PierPass program — a decade-old extended gate regime that charges a fee to cover the costs of longer hours — is based upon a lack of transparency, with truckers arguing terminal operators charge truckers more for access without allocating sufficient resources to the stakeholders.
  • At its core, the issue reveals a port-wide lack of visibility among the various intermodal links, each of which demand the same efficiency as at regular hours. The stakeholders noted they would be happy to pay the premium if only the operations were efficient, The Journal of Commerce reports. 

Dive Insight:

Demanding greater efficiency during extended gate hours can only benefit the supply chain, although it shows how time and technology have risen expectations of efficiency en masse.

Cancelations from drivers on the one side, versus truck bunching, or forced waiting for early arrivals on the other contribute to the problem. A numbering system linking BCOs to specific containers rather than first-available is also an issue.

Despite the controversy, PierPass can only be improved as the decade-old program is now essential to the ports' operations. An average evening weeknight shift receives 15,000 trucks, which, if the program was eliminated, would only be diverted to daylight traffic and increase wait times.  

Other ports are beginning to adopt similar programs, too. A recent three month trial showed extending hours at the Port of Oakland resulted in reduced daytime traffic by siphoning roughly 1,300 transactions to night operations

However, fee increases are rarely well received if not accompanied by notable improvements. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been investing in visibility programs, although benefits have yet to be released.

Regardless, ironing out the kinks in the night gate program will reward both ports and drivers alike. After all, speed, efficiency and improved communication (even via protest) ultimately benefit the supply chain, as stakeholder collaboration often helps smooth the path to success.

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Filed Under: Freight
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