In response to a walkout earlier this month by owner-operator truckers, the Port of Seattle has been meeting with steamship lines, terminal operators, railroads, trucking companies, organized labor and independent truckers. Several actions are already being taken to address long wait times that cost the owner-operators money.
The talks could eventually lead to spreading out peak volumes, continual operations and flexible gate hours, improved information exchange between trucking companies and gate operators, the introduction of new technology, separate troubleshooting truck lanes and an increased use of on-dock rail facilities.
In the meantime, several actions have been taken.
On Friday, Sept. 17, Union Pacific opened two additional lanes at the main gate of its ARGO facility as in-gate lanes and began providing access to truck drivers at 7 a.m., an hour earlier than before. These steps are expected to cut wait times in half and improve overall productivity at the facility. On Oct. 1, UP will introduce the use of handheld computers to speed up gate processing times. UP also plans to invest in a new gate structure in the near future.
On Monday, Sept. 20, Stevedoring Services of America extended the operating hours at the main gate of Terminal 18, one of the busiest container terminals in the harbor. SSA began providing access for most cargo at 7 a.m., an hour earlier than before. In addition, SSA will operate its gates at lunch time if container volumes warrant it.
Hanjin Shipping Ltd. at Terminal 46, another one of the Port's busiest container facilities, is expected to announce soon it will provide truckers with gate access at 7 a.m., also an hour earlier, to reduce truck queues.
A similar dialogue with trucking companies and shipping terminal operators is being initiated by the Port of Tacoma, which also experienced labor unrest at the same time as Seattle.