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Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023
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Hours-Long Wait at Terminals Sparks Campaign by Truckers

Hours-Long Wait at Terminals Sparks Campaign by Truckers

By DAVID GREENBERG

Staff Reporter

Reflecting the growing congestion of trucks idling outside the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a new study shows that drivers have to wait as long as three-and-a-half hours to enter a terminal, pick up cargo and leave the port.

Terminal operators blasted the study as inconclusive.

The preliminary findings by the California Trucking Association will be used as part of a campaign to hold terminals responsible for lengthy delays inside the gates. That campaign will include introducing more legislation designed to extend their gate hours, possibly by imposing more fines for trucks whose total transaction time exceeds an hour.

The CTA results are based on 382 port drivers who kept track of their transaction times within 22 terminals at the two local ports from Aug. 5 to Aug. 9, with idle time outside the gates included.

With about 150 surveys yet to be tabulated, preliminary results showed the Hapag-Lloyd Container Line kept drivers waiting the longest, with an average time of 3 hours and 26 minutes, while Norasia USA made truckers wait an average of only 43 minutes.

“The message we want to send out is that the laws are in the process of being changed and it’s going to cost marine terminals in that fashion,” said Stephanie Williams, the CTA’s vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs. “(The study) shows that there’s a need for improvement in turn times. The only way to fix this is to change the laws.”

Terminal operators said a more accurate survey would use data from a far greater number of drivers. They also said delays sometimes occur because of the fault of the driver, such as having wrong paperwork.

The proposed legislation would complement a bill authored by Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, which has passed the Assembly and Senate and is now on Gov. Davis’ desk. If signed into law, it would fine terminals $250 for each truck that waits more than 30 minutes to get inside the gates. Even opponents of the bill believe it will pass.

Extended terminal hours would benefit the 12,000 port truck drivers because they generally get paid by the load ($50 to $150 depending on distance), instead of by the hour.

Terminal operators said that they couldn’t extend their gate hours until warehouses agree to do the same. Otherwise, truck drivers would upset residents by parking their vehicles in residential neighborhoods, the operators said.

Economists said there is a limit to the progress the Lowenthal bill and future legislation will have. Ultimately, other things must change at the ports such as terminals assigning times for cargo pickup to ease the gridlock.

Opponents of the study said some maritime tenants lease space in other companies’ terminals and therefore have no control over how the gates are run.

“There are too many variables besides just looking at (wasted) time per container yard,” said Tim Parker, executive secretary of the Steamship Association of Southern California, which represents maritime tenants. “If you want a study, let’s put some teeth in the study and do it right.”

Greg Borossay, operations manager for Hapag-Lloyd, pointed out that his company and three other ship lines share the same two Long Beach terminals, yet each company posted significantly different transaction times.

While Hapag-Lloyd posted 3 hours and 26 minutes, P & O; Nedlloyd was listed at 2 hours and 20 minutes, NYK Line at 1 hour and 28 minutes and OOCL Orient Overseas at 1 hour and 26 minutes.

Williams countered that the study is a “snapshot” of a week at the ports and accurately shows that terminals are not running efficiently.

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