A study by PierPass and Ability/Tri-Modal of gate turn times in Los Angeles-Long Beach indicates the median visit time of a truck calling at marine terminals is 51 minutes, and the vast majority of truck visits take less than two hours.
However, the Harbor Trucking Association, which represents drayage companies in Southern California, said that by averaging the turn times, the report "provides a disservice to the trucking community by statistically diminishing the impact that very real delays are having on truckers."
Despite the difference of opinions expressed by terminal operators and harbor truckers, the port community considers the turn-time study to be a valuable tool for improving gate velocity at the nation's largest port complex.
By The Numbers:
Containerized Ocean Trade - Southern California Ports
"The past year has really pushed us, as a community, to look to the future and plan ahead more than we have in the past," said Josh Owen, president of Ability/Tri-Modal Transportation Services and a co-author of the report.
The study provides a starting point by giving truckers and terminal operators hard numbers that they can refer to in identifying bottlenecks and developing strategies to address those problems, said Bruce Wargo, PierPass president and co-author of the report.
The study was performed by Val Noronha, president of Digital Geographic Research Corp. in Santa Barbara, Calif. The company equipped about 250 trucks with global positioning system tracking to measure real-time truck queues outside of terminal gates and time spent within the terminals. The study period was last summer and fall during the peak shipping season.
Significant findings in the study indicate that the median queue time during the study period was 20 minutes and the in-terminal time was 31 minutes, for a total median visit time of 51 minutes.
Wargo said the vast majority of visits took less than two hours: 27 percent were under 30 minutes, 58 percent took less than an hour, 75 percent were less than 90 minutes and 86 percent were under two hours.
The Harbor Trucking Association, however, is concerned about another measurement showing that 12 percent of the visits took two to four hours. The truckers group said this number must be greatly reduced "if the San Pedro Bay port complex is to live up to its competitive potential in the face of increased pressure from shippers to lower costs and expedite throughput."
According to HTA members, some of the 14 container terminals in the port complex perform consistently well, whereas a few consistently have gate turn times that are unacceptable.
Terminal operators and truckers will begin a series of meetings to develop best practices for reducing unacceptable turn times that place a financial burden on truckers and their customers, Owen said.