A recent analysis by the marine terminal operators at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach shows that nearly half of trucks conducted at least four transactions per day in late July, while almost two-thirds of trucks made three or more transactions per day.
In response to the data, PierPass, a not-for-profit company created by marine terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in 2005 to address multi-terminal issues such as congestion, security and air quality, is encouraging carriers to take advantage of unused capacity.

"The analysis of transaction data shows that the ports are vastly underutilized despite increased cargo volume and truck traffic," said Bruce Wargo, president and CEO of PierPass. "PierPass and the MTOs are working together to improve the efficiency of cargo movement through the ports, ease the challenges of increased cargo volume and help the industry take advantage of unused capacity to minimize congestion."

The analysis, which includes transaction data from July 26, 2010, to Aug. 1, 2010, shows that:

* 5,326 trucks (63.4 percent) made at least 15 transactions, or about three per day.

* Of that group, 3,849 trucks (45.8 percent) conducted at least 20 terminal transactions, or about four per day.

* 48 trucks managed to make more than 50 pickups or deliveries in that week, or about 10 per day.

The analysis includes transaction data from the 13 container terminals serving the San Pedro Bay ports.

Following a plunge in cargo volumes in 2008 and 2009, volumes have strongly rebounded at the two ports, leading to an increase in truck traffic. In response to this surge, the marine terminal operators have reinstated labor, gates and shifts cut during the recession. Terminal operators have increased labor levels by 37 percent since January 2010.

Lines outside the terminals are long primarily around 6 p.m. During much of the day and night shifts, there is little or no congestion at the terminals. Truckers can avoid lines by arriving from 9 a.m. to noon, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., PierPass says.

"In response to the recent surge in truck volumes, some in the industry have expressed concern about wait times at the terminals' gates," Wargo said. "Marine terminal operators are diligently working with industry stakeholders to identify solutions. It is imperative that the trucking industry contribute by taking advantage of under-congested and under-utilized times at the gates. By spreading out volume and utilizing our existing infrastructure, trucking companies will improve the efficiency of their businesses."

PierPass recently announced the formation of a working group of 30 stakeholders representing importers, exporters, motor carriers, ports, and marine terminal operators (MTOs) to discuss the issue. In addition, many terminals at the San Pedro Ports are implementing an appointment system to take advantage of underutilized time and maximize the systems to help ease congestion.

PierPass has also developed a video addressing gate congestion and discussing potential solutions. The video can be viewed below: