Trying to cut congestion at local port terminals, 10 terminal operators plan to require truckers to make reservations to pick up shipping containers from the docks.

Currently, five port terminals allow truckers to reserve times for pickups, though reservations are not required. Under the new agreement, the 10 terminals – all but three of the terminals at the local ports – have agreed to require trucking companies to make appointments, according to PierPass Inc., the nonprofit organization that operates terminal gates at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

For now, only truckers picking up imported containers will need to make reservations, though terminal operators might extend the arrangement to truckers dropping off containers for export. Reservations will be made online through terminal operators’ websites.

The shift to a reservation system comes as more containers are arriving at the ports at once thanks to the use of increasingly larger cargo ships. The influx of huge numbers of containers has strained the old system, under which truckers could arrive at any time to pick up a container, PierPass President John Cushing said in a statement.

“Appointment systems are part of the growing set of tools terminals are embracing to fight congestion,” Cushing said.

Truckers will have to go to each terminal’s website to pick from offered appointment times, said Paul Sherer, a spokesman for PierPass, because each terminal has its own reservation system.

Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association in Long Beach, said truckers would prefer all reservations to be made through a single system.

“A uniform port-wide system that has reasonable appointment windows could be beneficial, but the trucking community must be at the table in developing that,” LaBar said.

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