Terminals in Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Move Start of Chassis Rule to September 1

LONG BEACH, Calif., Aug. 1, 2016 – The West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA) has extended the implementation date of a new tariff rule for chassis services by one month until September 1. The rule applies to chassis owned by chassis leasing companies that receive services from WCMTOA’s marine terminal members at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The chassis system in the United States has been in flux for several years as shipping lines have moved away from providing the chassis (the truck trailer onto which containers are mounted) as part of their services. Since 2014, users in Los Angeles-Long Beach have arranged chassis directly with the leasing companies.

However, the terminals haven’t been compensated by the leasing companies for basic services provided such as storage space, stacking and unstacking the chassis, and electronic data interchange (which tells the chassis lessors who is using their chassis). Since the chassis leasing companies formed a “pool of pools” in early 2015, the terminals have been working with the leasing companies to address the compensation and services issues.

The new Rule 15 of WCMTOA’s Marine Terminal Schedule No. 1 describes the “On-Terminal Chassis Services” provided and establishes the “Chassis Services Fee.” The rule provides for a $5 fee each time a chassis enters or leaves the terminal, to cover the cost of services. The fee will be collected by PierPass on chassis with loaded or empty containers mounted, but not on bare chassis. MTO Schedule No. 1 is available at http://goo.gl/QihQ1u.

No fees will be charged for chassis that are owned directly by cargo owners or trucking companies, as these owners don’t require the services provided to leasing companies. Neither cargo owners or trucking companies need register their chassis under Rule 15.

Rule 15 was originally scheduled to take effect today, August 1. On Friday, PierPass informed the FMC that it was extending the start date to September 1, giving the leasing companies additional time to implement the change without impacting cargo flow in the ports.

The West Coast MTO Agreement is filed with the Federal Maritime Commission, and comprises the 13 marine terminal operators serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

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PierPass Briefs Washington Regulators and Shipper Associations

Dear Users of OffPeak Gates,

PierPass Inc. issued the following press release this morning:

PierPass Briefs Washington Regulators and Shipper Associations

LONG BEACH, Calif., November 23, 2015—PierPass Inc. and marine terminal operator leaders conducted a series of meetings in Washington, DC last week with the Federal Maritime Commission chairman, commissioners and staff. The meetings reviewed how conditions at the marine terminals in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have rebounded strongly since the congestion crisis a year ago.

The 13 container terminals continue to provide extensive availability of service to cargo owners moving their containers through the two adjacent ports. The terminals provided an average of 82 hours per week of truck gates in August, 84 hours per week in September, and 82 hours per week in October.

These hours of service include daytime gates Monday through Friday; four to five OffPeak gates on nights and Saturdays; flex gates, where terminals hire extra labor to open before the start of a regular shift or remain open during contractually-mandated meal breaks; and ad-hoc gates, where terminals open up for an extra night or weekend to accommodate customer needs.

Improved Cargo Velocity

The time it takes for terminals to retrieve and load import containers onto trucks or receive export containers from trucks is down sharply from its peak a year ago. Cargo is moving through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach at velocities not seen since the first half of 2014, before the congestion experienced during the second half of 2014.

For trucks picking up or dropping off containers at port terminals, in-terminal turn time in October averaged 48.3 minutes on OffPeak shifts, the lowest it has been since August 2014. Daytime in-terminal turn time in October averaged 46.3 minutes, the second-lowest it has been since June 2014. That is a significant drop from late 2014 through early 2015, when daytime and OffPeak turn times exceeded 60 minutes in some months.

Washington Delegation Reviews OffPeak Costs with FMC

The delegation from PierPass and terminal operators also used the meetings with the FMC as an opportunity to review the finances of PierPass Inc. and the OffPeak program. PierPass recently published an in-depth review of the methodology it uses to calculate the cost for the terminals to operate the OffPeak gates. The review is available at http://wcmtoa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/PierPass-Financial-Overview_10-21-2015.pdf. The document also reviews the methodology used to audit PierPass Inc.

Meetings with Shippers Associations

While in Washington, the delegation provided similar updates to trade associations representing cargo owners, including the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Waterfront Coalition.

“These shipper meetings continue the extensive and ongoing outreach that the marine terminal operators and PierPass conduct with industry partners,” said PierPass Inc. President John Cushing.

Among other activities, the terminal operators and PierPass participate in the Supply Chain Optimization initiative of the two ports, working with cargo owners, trucking companies, various associations and the ports to share information and initiate programs.

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. To learn what it takes for a truck to drop off or pick up a container at a marine terminal, please see http://youtu.be/P9IJN1yIIJ4. For additional information, please see www.pierpass.org.

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PierPass Names Kevin Recker as Chief Financial Officer

LONG BEACH, Calif., August 10, 2015 – PierPass Inc. today named Kevin Recker as its Chief Financial Officer. In the position, Recker is responsible for financial management and accounting for PierPass, including oversight of the OffPeak program, which manages the night and Saturday truck gates at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach.

Recker comes to PierPass after serving as Director of Accounting at International Transportation Service Inc. (ITS), which operates marine container terminals at the Ports of Long Beach and Tacoma. He has also served in senior accounting and audit positions at the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce, Panasonic Disc Services Corp., and with public accounting firms. Recker earned his Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Long Beach, in Business Administration and Accountancy, and is a Certified Public Accountant.

“Kevin’s career in both public and private accounting and his experience in the maritime industry bring the necessary skills to hit the track running as PierPass’s new CFO,” said PierPass President John Cushing.

Recker will replace Tom Stephenson, who is retiring after more than 10 years in the position.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Tom Stephenson, who was instrumental in getting the PierPass accounting and finance program off the ground and in guiding the program through a decade of efficient and effective operations,” Cushing said.

Majority of Terminals Operating Truck Gates Through Lunch & Shift Changes, as GGS Adds Saturday Shift

Dear Users of OffPeak Gates,

As you may know, congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has increased over the past several months amid disruptions in the supply of chassis and other factors. The marine terminal operators, while not owning chassis themselves, have been working with other key parties including chassis leasing companies to help mitigate the problems. The chassis disruptions have been compounded by ocean carrier alliances that are dispersing cargo among more terminals, the arrival of larger ships, a shortage of rail cars and locomotives, and the struggles of trucking companies to retain drivers.

In the meantime, the terminals continue providing additional labor to ensure sufficient capacity at the truck gates. The majority of the 13 international container terminals at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are keeping truck gates open during lunch hours and shift changes. As the accompanying schedule of relief and flex gates shows, 77% of the terminals are hiring additional labor to keep terminal gates open during the day shift’s contractually-mandated lunch hour from noon to 1:00 p.m., while 85% are keeping gates open during the OffPeak shift’s 10 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. dinner hour.

Terminals are also opening gates early in the morning (flex gates) and keeping them open between shifts. Ten of the 13 terminals (77%) are running truck gates between the end of the day shift at 5:00 p.m. and the start of the OffPeak shift at 6:00 p.m., while eight (61%) are opening an hour before the 8 a.m. start of the day shift.

In addition, terminals continue to adjust OffPeak shift availability to meet demand. Beginning on Saturday Oct. 25, Global Gateway South (GGS) terminal at the Port of Los Angeles will begin offering an OffPeak shift during the daytime on Saturdays, bringing the total number of terminals operating Saturdays to eight. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights each have 12 terminals open to trucks, while all terminals are currently open Tuesday nights.

While we anticipate congestion will ease somewhat as the peak season passes, we expect it will take several months for the chassis situation to significantly improve. Although the current delays aren’t due to availability of truck gates, the terminals are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to adjust gate hours as needed.

Regards,

John Cushing
President, PierPass Inc.

Flex Gate Schedule_current.image

PierPass Names John Cushing as President

LONG BEACH, Calif., September 17, 2014 – PierPass Inc. has named as its new president John Cushing, a veteran transportation industry executive and leader.

Mr. Cushing’s role gives him responsibility for PierPass programs to relieve congestion and improve air quality at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Mr. Cushing takes over the role of president from Bruce Wargo, who has led PierPass since its founding in 2004 and remains CEO.

Mr. Cushing founded eModal in 1999 and served as its president through 2009. Under his leadership, eModal developed widely used online services to coordinate activities between marine terminals and trucking companies, beneficial cargo owners, and others in the supply chain. Mr. Cushing grew eModal into the nation’s largest port community system, used at 41 marine terminals in 14 ports on both U.S. coasts.

From 2009 through 2013, Mr. Cushing led development of SSIT, a greenfield container terminal project on the Cai Mep River in the south of Vietnam. Since returning to southern California, Mr. Cushing has been involved in various maritime business development projects, both domestically and internationally.

Mr. Cushing’s extensive experience in the transportation industry began when he worked as a steamship line agent with Barwil Agencies. Later, as marketing manager at the Port of Los Angeles, Mr. Cushing helped establish the Port’s heavy container corridor, including leading the effort to pass a state law enabling the corridor. Other initiatives included his role in developing the Port’s first on-dock intermodal facility.

“John’s leadership in services for terminal operators, trucking companies and cargo owners, along with his experience developing and managing a new international container terminal, put PierPass and the OffPeak Program in able hands,” Mr. Wargo said. Mr. Wargo has taken on the additional role of PierPass board chairman.

Under the OffPeak program, the 13 international container terminals at the two adjacent ports operate additional shifts on nights and Saturdays. Since 2005, PierPass OffPeak gates have grown to handle about 55 percent of daily truck-borne container traffic at the ports, diverting more than 30 million truck trips from weekday, daytime traffic in Los Angeles and Long Beach. OffPeak has greatly eased congestion on city streets and nearby freeways, and has reduced emissions from trucks idling outside of terminals and in traffic.

 

PierPass Announces Free-Flow Program to Speed Cargo Through Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif., Sept. 11, 2014 – PierPass Inc. today launched the Free-Flow Program, testing a new cargo-handling process expected to significantly reduce the time it takes participating trucks to pick up containers at marine terminals.

Today’s random-access process – where any truck can show up at any time to pick up any container – hasn’t changed since containerization began in the early 1960’s. With new, larger ships unloading as many as 5,000 containers at a time, the random-access process is creating efficiency challenges at major ports around the world.

The free-flow process enables bulk delivery of large groups of containers belonging to the same cargo owner, trucking company or logistics company.

“To keep cargo flowing quickly as ships grow ever larger, we need to change how we move containers,” said PierPass President and CEO Bruce Wargo. “Doing the same things incrementally faster won’t solve congestion pressures.”

Mr. Wargo added, “How congested would LAX or JFK be if every taxi came for one specific person rather than picking up the first in line? That’s how the current container cargo system works.”

Under the Free-Flow Program, PierPass is working with participating terminals, trucking companies and cargo owners to test free-flow, measure its impact on cargo velocity and costs, and learn what methods and resources are needed to run free-flow successfully. If the testing demonstrates significantly positive results, free-flow is expected to become a regular part of terminal operations.

In a typical case, a large retailer that has 80 or more containers arriving on a single ship will arrange free-flow delivery with the marine terminal. In other cases, a trucking or logistics company can arrange for free-flow by consolidating groups of containers from multiple cargo owners.

Under the current system, when terminals unload containers from arriving ships they pile them into stacks in the order they come off the ship. When trucks arrive and request a specific container, it has to be located and dug out of a stack that can be four or five containers high and six containers deep. Container-handling equipment like rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTGs) must move an average of three containers to dig a specific container out of the stack and deliver it to a waiting truck. As a result, one RTG can deliver an average of only eight to ten containers per hour. Using the free-flow process, a tophandler crane is expected to deliver as many as 20 containers per hour.

The free-flow process starts when a ship is being unloaded. All containers claimed by a single owner, trucking company or logistics provider are piled into a separate stack. The cargo owner or its representative then sends a stream of trucks into the marine terminal through a special lane, and each truck takes the next container in the stack.

Trial runs of free-flow have shown a range of results and are helping terminal operators and trucking companies learn how to best structure the process. At best, trucking companies have reported turn times as short as 11 minutes, compared to about 45 minutes for a typical transaction.

Terminal operators believe that free-flow might eventually account for as much as 30% of cargo moves. While the trucks participating in free-flow will see the most dramatic improvement, the process should have a spillover benefit to the rest of the trucks, by reducing the number of trucks in the RTG lanes.

“While free-flow isn’t a silver bullet to fix all congestion issues, we believe it can significantly benefit port users,” Mr. Wargo said. “Terminal operators will continue to innovate how they handle growing cargo volumes, to ensure that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach remain the most reliable and productive in North America.”

For additional information about the Free-Flow Program, see Rule 14 in the West Coast MTO Agreement’s Marine Terminal Schedule No. 1, available at http://wcmtoa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/wcmtoa-10-8-schedule.pdf.

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 in 2005 to address multi-terminal issues such as congestion, air quality and security. To learn what it takes for a truck to drop off or pick up a container at a marine terminal, see http://youtu.be/P9IJN1yIIJ4. For additional information, please see www.pierpass.org.

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PierPass Offers Opinion on 24/7 Gate Operations at Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

Dear Users of OffPeak Gates,

Over the past few months, some port interests have been promoting the idea of mandating that terminals in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach operate truck gates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On behalf of the terminal operators, I recently summarized our point of view on this position in a letter to a Member of the U.S. Congress. Because this issue has significant implications for port users, I am sharing our point of view with the broader cargo movement community.

While the idea may seem appealing when considered in a vacuum, it can’t survive a basic cost/benefit analysis. Such a mandate would undermine the competitiveness of the San Pedro Bay ports, as it would raise costs for shippers and drive away cargo.

When the terminals nearly doubled the number of gate hours per week under the PierPass OffPeak program in 2005, container volume was expected to grow rapidly to fill the new second shift. However, by 2013 volume was only slightly higher than it was in 2005 (14.6 million TEUs in 2013 vs. 14.2 million TEUs in 2005).

As a result, marine terminal operators have never recovered the full costs of the night gate operations. The incremental costs of the current OffPeak night gates are approaching $180 million annually, with TMF collections falling short by $64.9 million in 2013.

The West Coast Marine Terminal Operators Agreement members recently contracted an accounting firm to calculate the cost of operating seven days a week, at either two shifts or three shifts per day. The firm took into account an expected decrease in the cost of existing shifts as a portion of cargo volume flows into the new shifts.

The accounting firm provided the following estimate:

  • Working two shifts per day, seven days per week would add $121.5 million to current annual operating costs, a 22% increase
  • Working three work shifts per day, seven days per week would add $167 million to current annual costs, a 30% increase

When the gridlock of 2004 threatened cargo owners’ ability to move their goods and strongly undermined community support, cargo owners were willing to accept a fee to open up new capacity. At this time, we believe cargo owners would be extremely reluctant to pay additional fees for adding capacity that is unneeded. Neither the trucking companies nor the terminal operators are in any financial position to pay the costs. Nor would we expect the money to come from taxpayers. (The OffPeak program receives no port, city, state or federal funding.)

Mandated 24/7 operations at the terminals would be financially crippling and would offer little practical benefit to the trucking industry. The second half of the existing night shift, from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., is significantly underused by trucking companies. The hour beginning at midnight receives only 66% of the traffic received during the busy hour beginning at 6:00 p.m., while the hour starting 1:00 a.m. receives only half (53%) of the 6:00 p.m. traffic. Traffic during the start of the day shift is similarly light.

When the terminal operators added the OffPeak second shifts in 2005, they and other stakeholders expected harbor trucking companies to begin running two shifts per day. While many have done so, a large proportion of trucking companies and drivers are instead operating a single shift, spanning the afternoon of the peak daytime shift and the first half of the night shift. If they’re not even taking advantage of having two shifts, there is little or no reason to believe that they would make much use of a third shift.

Unlike in 2005, there is no capacity crisis that needs to be addressed through a hugely expensive increase in hours of operation.

Nor will 24/7 operations will do anything to fix the largest cause of daily truck gate congestion: trucking companies sending trucks to park outside the terminals waiting for the OffPeak shift to start. These trucking company practices directly influence the length of turn times. Truckers can reduce their turn times by moving containers during the 8 to 10 hours per day when lines are short, and by taking simple steps to avoid trouble tickets.

Sincerely,

Bruce Wargo
President and CEO, PierPass Inc.

PierPass Video: What Happens When a Truck Picks Up a Container?


After a season of disruptions at major East Coast and Northwest ports, opinions are flying about strategies to keep truck deliveries at the terminals moving quickly. We’ve produced a new video to help those concerned with container throughput issues to better understand the system as it exists today. The video walks viewers through a truck turn from the moment it enters the terminal with an empty container to the time it leaves the exit gate with a full load. (Our previous video explored truck queues outside the terminal gates.)

I encourage you to watch the video and share it with your constituents. The video is available by clicking on the image above or through this link

Compared to several other North American ports that have struggled in recent months with unusually bad weather, operational problems and labor disputes, conditions at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been much steadier. In-terminal turn time – the average amount of time a truck is inside a terminal to complete a single transaction – increased gradually from an average of 37.5 minutes during day shifts in February 2013 to 40.6 minutes in February 2014, a rise of about 8%.

Nonetheless, we believe changes underway with several links in the goods movement chain are likely to continue increasing turn times unless we revamp some long-established processes. These ongoing changes include the arrival of ever-larger ships, and the transition in how chassis are owned and managed.

The current random-access system – when any truck can show up at any time to pick up any container – hasn’t changed since containerization began in the early 1960’s. If we’re going to significantly change the results, we need to reevaluate how we deliver containers.

The terminal operators and other stakeholders are looking at a range of potential tools to maintain throughput velocity under these changing conditions. Possible delivery improvements under study include pre-staging containers for bulk delivery (also known as free flow), pre-entering truck and cargo information into terminal computer systems, and using cellphone lots and smartphone applications to better coordinate truck arrivals and shift traffic out of gate lines.

Thank you,

Bruce Wargo
President and CEO, PierPass Inc.

Marine Terminal Operators at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Launch Initiative to Speed Cargo Moves by Reducing Trouble Tickets

LONG BEACH, Calif., Jan. 10, 2013 – PierPass Inc. today announced an initiative to reduce the number of transaction problems experienced when trucks pick up or deliver containers at the marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These problems – exceptions from normal processes that result in the issuance of “trouble tickets” — lead to substantial delays in container movement through the terminals.

About 5% of all transactions at terminals in the United States result in trouble tickets, which on average add about an hour to the “turn time,” the amount of time a truck spends at a terminal, according to a 2011 report by the National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP). The report found that “exceptions from normal processes [are] a major source of delay and cost. The long ‘tails’ on the turn time data, in particular, suggest that around 5% of the cases consume much more than the ‘normal’ time and expense.” Most trouble tickets can be prevented through better communications before a truck arrives at the terminal gates, the NCFRP report said.

PierPass has surveyed terminal operators at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports to determine the most common causes of trouble tickets, and found that the situation at the two adjacent ports matches what NCFRP found nationally. While trouble tickets are caused by a range of issues, they usually are tied to inaccurate or incomplete information about an import container delivery or an export booking problem. When issued a trouble ticket, the driver typically has to go to a “trouble window” or office to get the issue resolved. This results in delays for customers and truckers and higher costs for terminal operators.

“Trucking companies can avoid most trouble tickets and reduce turn times by checking with the terminals’ web-based systems before coming to the terminal gates,” said Bruce Wargo, president of PierPass. “These systems let dispatchers confirm the availability of import containers or the validity of export booking numbers before prematurely sending a truck to the terminal.”

PierPass is distributing a fact sheet to trucking companies with tips on trouble-ticket prevention. PierPass today also released a video in which stakeholders representing terminal operators, trucking companies and the ports discuss approaches to reducing trouble tickets.

The NCFRP report found that better procedures by trucking companies can reduce trouble tickets. It noted that less experienced drivers and trucking companies that don’t regularly serve the ports generate exceptions and receive trouble tickets much more frequently than regular port visitors. Drivers making an average of at least one call per day had only a 3.0% trouble ticket rate, vs. 7.8% for those making less than one call per week, the report found.

At the APL Terminal in the Port of Los Angeles, the largest group of trouble tickets (34%) in July and August 2012 were issued when truckers arrived to pick up containers that were on hold. Containers can be put on hold for a variety of reasons including U.S. Customs release, agricultural inspection, and unpaid steamship charges or Traffic Mitigation Fees.

The second-largest group (20%) was due to the container number not matching the number on the Bill of Lading, which can also be checked online before delivering a container. In total, about 5% of all gate transactions – 2,500 in all – ended up at the trouble window. APL says 65% of all trouble tickets during that period could have been resolved before the truck came to the terminal.

In 2011, the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, terminals and trucking community published the first comprehensive turn time study at the ports using GPS technology. It found that the median turn time inside the terminals during the period studied was 31 minutes per visit, and that 88% of trucks took less than 2 hours per visit. The study also found:

  • The median time trucks spent in queue waiting to get into the gates was 20 minutes and the terminal time 31 minutes, for a total visit time of 51 minutes.
  • Some have implied that it is typical to wait three hours to get into a terminal. But the study showed that only 9% of queue waits were more than an hour.
  • Only 3% of visits took three hours or more, including queue time and terminal time.

PierPass and its member terminal operators continue to offer night gate operations to address container demand and traffic mitigation. Terminals are currently offering 55 OffPeak gates across 13 terminals, in addition to 65 daytime gates, for a total of 120 gates per week for cargo pickup and delivery.