LA, LB Terminals to Speed-Up Extended Gate Plan
New phased-in schedule said ''responsive'' to industry and community needs
LONG BEACH - 11/09/04 - In a move aimed at lessening the chronic congestion at Southern California's major ocean cargo facilities, marine terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have unveiled plans to speed up implementation of night and weekend operations.
At a meeting last week, terminal operators accelerated implementation of the newly organized PierPass program to more quickly phase in night and weekend operations. Rather than add one additional shift each month for five months as originally planned, the terminal operators agreed to phase in five additional off-peak shifts during the initial month of operation.
According to sources, the new program will go into effect in the first quarter of 2005.
The plan was originally scheduled to start this month and be phased in over five months, but terminal operators were told by the San Francisco-based Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to delay initiating the program while the industry hires and trains additional workers to meet the existing shortage of waterfront labor.
The PMA negotiates and administers maritime labor agreements with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and is made up of US-flag ocean carriers and foreign flag operators, as well as the stevedore and terminal companies that operate at deep-water ports in California, Oregon, and Washington.
The rapid implementation "will require more planning and systems work initially but will allow the full program to begin earlier," said PierPass spokesman Tupper Hull, who added that the operation has retained Palazollo and Associates, a maritime information and administrative systems consultancy, to assist technology providers and PierPass staff with the accelerated deployment of the new program.
"After a great many meetings with members of the trucking community, a common thread of concern was voiced again and again," said Scott Smith of Eagle Marine Services, the terminal operator for American President Lines and several other ocean carriers.
"Truckers made it clear that a sufficient number of evening shifts must be available to them each week before they will adjust their lives to working nights. Adding just one night shift a month is not likely to be attractive enough to entice truckers to make the transition to working nights," he said.
Importers and exporters also lobbied for a quicker implementation schedule, citing a need for more options on cargo movement in order to reduce costs associated with day-time traffic congestion.
"Our customers are enthusiastically supporting PierPass and pushing us to move quicker, so that we will be able to avoid delays from the day time traffic that we experience today," said Alan McCorkle, senior vice president of AP Moller Terminals at the Port of Los Angeles.
Unveiled in August, PierPass is seen as a "private-sector response to port-area traffic congestion," said the PMA's Hull.
California Assemblyman and State Senator-elect Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) introduced legislation earlier this year to encourage an industry response to traffic congestion concerns.
He agreed to withdraw the legislation from consideration by the state legislature when terminal operators rolled-out the PierPass program.
The program calls for the opening of port-wide, full-service operations on weekends and evenings when trucks serving the port will not compete with commuter traffic.
To provide incentives for cargo owners to move containers during off-peak hours and to defray the cost of significantly extending hours of terminal operations, PierPass will assess a Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) on all loaded international cargo containers.
Cargo moving during off-peak hours or using the Alameda Corridor - the dedicated rail link which connects both ports with the intermodal rail facilities on the outskirts of Los Angeles, some 23 miles to the east - will be entitled to a refund of, or exclusion from, the fee.
Terminals operators and PierPass representatives have been conducting systematic outreach meetings with importers, exporters, trucking companies, customs brokers, local elected officials and other important links in the international trade supply chain.
The small-group meetings are intended to keep parties informed about the pilot program's progress as well as help PierPass improve its program. Similar meetings with ocean carriers and railroads are scheduled to begin soon.
Terminal operators also confirmed the appointment of Bruce Wargo as General Manager of the non-profit PierPass.
Wargo has 34 years of experience in terminal and stevedore operations, including experience in container terminal management, facility design and construction, and technology for terminal operations.
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