The Port of New York and New Jersey will implement an infrastructure fee on all cargo to pay for intermodal rail and road infrastructure and security.
The port authority board voted to approve the fee and eliminate a $57.50-per-lift assessment on containers handled at the ports’ ExpressRail ramps.
The new fee, expected to take effect in early February, will average less than $9 per 40-foot container, and will amount to $1.11 per automobile and 13 cents per metric ton on non-containerized cargo, said Rick Larrabee, the port authority’s director of port commerce. “Today the cost of moving a box from China to New York is about $2,000, so we’re talking about a very small increase in that cost,” he said.
The fee will put port shipments using truck transportation on the same footing as containers handled by ExpressRail. There currently is no per-box fee for truck shipments.
Larrabee said the port agency “conservatively” expects the change to boost rail cargo by 2 to 3 percent. Currently, 12 to 13 percent of the port’s containers move by intermodal rail. Increasing rail volume has been a top port authority goal for several years.
The fee is projected to generate $26 million a year, 27 percent more than the $20.5 million generated by the ExpressRail fee that will be eliminated. The port authority also plans to eliminate a much smaller fee covering the SeaLink program for gate access to port terminals.
“The purpose of this is to increase the efficiency of the port, and we believe it ultimately will reduce the cost of operations,” by providing an assured revenue stream for infrastructure improvements, Larrabee said.
The fee’s proceeds will be divided among capital improvements for ExpressRail, improvements to truck access roads, and unreimbursed costs necessitated by post-September 11 security.
Larrabee said improved roads, coupled with increased use of intermodal rail, will benefit motor carriers and truck-dependent shippers by smoothing cargo flow and eliminating delays. He said inadequate access roads contribute to accidents that impede cargo flow. He said 66 major wrecks have been logged in the port area this year alone.
The new fee will be collected by operators that lease port-owned container terminals, and by private owners of auto and general cargo terminals.
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