PierPass evaluates extended gate options

PierPass, whose members consist of the 13 container terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, held a workshop last Thursday to evaluate extended gate options.

PierPass evaluates extended gate options

PierPass, whose members consist of the 13 container terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, held a workshop last Thursday to evaluate extended gate options.

PierPass evaluates extended gate options

PierPass, whose members consist of the 13 container terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, held a workshop last Thursday to evaluate extended gate options.

 
Container terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are taking a look at alternatives to the current PierPass program.
    Last Thursday, PierPass held a workshop to evaluate extended gate options with about 70 stakeholders from groups such as beneficial cargo owners, forwarders, customs house brokers, and draymen, in addition to terminal operators.
    PierPass, which operates under the authority of the 13 members of the West Coast Marine Terminal Operators Agreement (WCMTOA), was created in 2005 to improve security, offer extended hours at terminals, and reduce pollution and traffic congestion in and around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It does this by offering the ability for truckers to pick-up or drop-off containers at off-peak hours (weekday nights and on Saturdays).
    PierPass collects a “traffic mitigation fee” of $70.49 per TEU or $140.98 per FEU from cargo owners that pick-up or drop-off loaded containers at the marine terminals between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and that money is used to partially offset the cost of the extended hours. Empty containers, loaded containers that move in and out of terminals by railroad, or containers transshipped through the two ports (a container may arrive on a ship at one terminal, but then be shipped out through another) are exempt from the fee.
    Since cargo owners do not pay the fee to pick-up or drop-off containers during the extended hours, they have an incentive to use the off-peak hours, and nearly half of all containers are handled at night or on Saturday. Not all terminals have off-peak hours on the same days of the week, but they are between 6:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. on weekdays, and 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
   John Cushing, the president of PierPass, said the program has been very successful in diverting a lot of truck moves at the two ports from the busy peak hours. Prior to PierPass, about 88 percent of container pickups and deliveries were done during the day.
    In 2015, about 56 percent of the containers handled at the two ports, including empties, moved during the day, while the additional 44 percent were transported at night. Excluding empties, Cushing said the ratio is closer to 50-50. Cushing said that over the life of the program, about 35 million truck trips have been diverted to off-peak hours.
    Cushing said the purpose of the meeting was to review the success that PierPass has achieved to date and discuss alternatives that have been suggested to PierPass.
    At the meeting, three possible alternatives to the current off-peak program were discussed.
    One alternative was the use of dynamic and variable pricing. Fees would vary according to how congested terminals are. Dynamic pricing is commonly used to control traffic on bridges and highways.
   A second method was possible use of a ports-wide “peel-off” system that would be somewhat similar to the taxi line at an airport. With this method, beneficial cargo owners would tell the carrier what day of the week they would like to have their cargo leave the terminal, and whether they would like it to move during peak or off-peak hours. As containers were discharged from the ship, they would be sorted into an appropriate stack. On the given day of the week and shift, truckers who have queued up at the terminal would have a container loaded on their chassis as it is “peeled-off” the stack and be told where to bring a container as they exit the terminal. The price paid to the trucker would vary based on its destination.
    The third alternative would involve charging a lower flat fee that would apply to cargo moving in and out of terminals at all hours, but spread out traffic by requiring truckers to have an appointment. Cushing noted that eight terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach now require truckers to have an appointment to pick-up containers. Cushing said there was a lot of discussion at the meeting of this alternative.
    He noted that no decision was made at the meeting, but a PierPass advisory committee that has about 25 stakeholders will compile information discussed last week and appoint an “extended gates subcommittee” to further explore the alternatives. He also said plans will be taken to keep the subcommittee at a manageable size, while still including representatives from all parts of the port community - importers, exporters, truckers, customs brokers, terminal operators, etc.
    A decision on whether to change the PierPass system is expected some time next year, perhaps in the second quarter.
    Weston LaBar, executive director for the Harbor Trucking Association, said he thought the PierPass meeting was “a really good event” and there was a clear preference among the attendees for the alternative that involved a flat fee on all shipments, in conjunction with an appointment system.
   LaBar thought there are also opportunities for terminals to create an incentive to have truckers make “dual transactions” where they drop off an empty container and pickup an import, or drop off an export and take leave with an empty container. He said that since most trucking companies specialize in exports or imports, it is rare for a trucker to drop off an export at a terminal and pick up an import on the same visit to a terminal.
    In the meantime, a third-party audit of PierPass is expected to be completed by the end of the year and was the subject of a closed door discussion of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) last week.
    Cushing said Mario Cordero, the chairman of the FMC, asked for an audit of PierPass.
    The audit is being conducted by KPMG, and it is hoped it will shine light on how the terminals determine their costs and how the PierPass fee is collected and developed.
    FMC staff met with PierPass executives last week to learn more about the audit.
   “It is important for the leaders and members of WCMTOA to understand that the way PierPass operates creates many valid questions that deserve meaningful answers," Cordero said. "It remains to be seen if the current third-party examination of PierPass’ operations will provide the transparency and accountability that its customers demand and the FMC is seeking.
    “I hope that this work product will be an exercise in real disclosure, such a meaningful overture would go a long way toward repairing relations with customers and easing mounting concerns at the Commission about the way PierPass does business," Cordero added.
    The FMC said, “The volume and tenor of complaints about PierPass reaching the Commission from truckers, beneficial cargo owners, and other leading supply chain executives have increased steadily and dramatically over the past two years. A common criticism of PierPass centers on the increased cost of the program and the service that is offered is neither dependable, nor does it improve with annual fee increases.”
    LaBar said there is a coalition of beneficial cargo owners and trucking companies that would like “an open and frank discussion on the governance of the offpeak program and what some alternatives to WCMTOA governance would look like. That is a discussion that still needs to happen.”

On April 2, 2019, Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area, meeting the minimum threshold needed for the agreement to move forward. 

The U.S. international trade goods and services deficit was $49.4 billion in February, down $1.8 billion from January's revised figures, according to U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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PierPass evaluates extended gate options

PierPass, whose members consist of the 13 container terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, held a workshop last Thursday to evaluate extended gate options.

Oct 24, 2016 on Dec 27, 2018AmericanShipper.com

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PierPass evaluates extended gate options

PierPass, whose members consist of the 13 container terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, held a workshop last Thursday to evaluate extended gate options.

Oct 24, 2016 on Dec 27, 2018AmericanShipper.com