Long Beach Executive Port Director Chris Lytle assured truckers that the Southern California ports will find enough storage space in the harbor area for chassis now that ocean carriers are exiting the chassis business.
“Big plots of land are not available, but some things can be moved around. We can make more efficient use of some facilities,” Lytle told the Harbor Trucking Association Wednesday.
In order to promote efficiency, though, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles know the chassis storage yards must be located in the immediate harbor area, Lytle said.
Carriers announced several years ago they would no longer own, manage and repair chassis, and they no longer intend to provide chassis to shippers and truckers basically free of charge. Their exit from the chassis business has been slow, however, with most of the action taking place at inland locations and smaller ports.
It is obvious that carriers eventually will cease supplying chassis in the nation’s largest port complex, so the transportation community must prepare for the inevitable, Lytle indicated. The ports have formed a stakeholders group that represents all facets of the industry, and they will act as facilitators to help carriers, terminals, cargo interests, truckers and organized labor find the solution that works best for the port complex.
The ports intend to use their land bank as a resource. While there is probably no single parcel large enough to satisfy the needs of the industry, the ports may be able to designate several smaller properties where storage yards can be strategically located to serve the clusters of marine terminals scattered throughout the sprawling port complex.
Terminal operators support the carriers’ move away from chassis because that equipment is now stored at their facilities, taking up valuable property that could be better used for cargo handling, Lytle said.
Nor is it efficient for truckers to wait in line at terminals while dockworkers sift through chassis owned by several lines to find the right match, and then spend additional time inspecting the “roadability” of chassis to make sure they are in good repair, he said.
It is apparent from the initial stakeholders meetings that the industry wants a gray chassis fleet, with chassis able to be used at all terminals and for all customers. If the transportation community can pull this off, the requirements for chassis could probably be reduced by 30 percent, Lytle said.
Pricing is another issue under discussion. Vic LaRosa, president of TTSI, said what is likely to develop would be a menu of options where chassis users pick the plan that best meets their operational needs.