Truckers that dray containers to and from many of the ocean terminals in the Port of New York and New Jersey say there aren’t enough chassis available in the ocean carriers’ chassis pool to carry those containers.
The problem is cropping up as ocean carriers that used to provide chassis for free to port truckers are getting out of the chassis business and have turned those chassis over to Trac Intermodal, the chassis-leasing company that is managing the gray chassis pool for the carriers in the port.
“A lot of these chassis are pretty old, old enough to vote,” said Dick Jones, executive director of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers in New Jersey. “When Trac Intermodal got a lot of this equipment, it was unserviceable.”
Jones said the Bi-State Association complained to Trac Intermodal about the poor quality of the equipment in the pool it maintains, and the latter agreed to make them road-worthy. Trac Intermodal didn’t immediately return a call asking for comment.
“Every one of the terminals has chassis stacked up with red tags on them, which means that they are out of service,” Jones said. “They are not being repaired fast enough.”
The International Longshoreman’s Association, which has jurisdiction over the maintenance and repair of chassis at the ocean terminals, hasn’t been able to repair them fast enough to make up the shortage because of a shortage of skilled mechanics.
Trac Intermodal doesn’t charge for the chassis that are furnished by the ocean carriers but does charge a rental fee for the chassis it owns. Other chassis-leasing companies that operate in the port, such as Flexi-Van and Maersk Line’s Direct ChassisLink, rent chassis to truckers on a daily basis for about $13 a day.
But truckers are reluctant to rent chassis from them because the shippers whose containers they are hauling are balking at reimbursing them for the daily rental fees, Jones said.
“We are in a learning curve here where we have to teach the shippers that someone is going to have to pay these daily rental fees,” he said.