Port drayage companies say they’re frustrated with a third consecutive week of delays that have caused long truck lines at Port of New York and New Jersey container terminals.
Representatives of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers met today with ocean carriers and terminals to discuss problems that have snarled traffic since the difficult break-in of a new operating system at Maher Terminals, the port’s largest terminal.
Delays flared up again this week. Truck lines stretched more than two miles on June 26 after Maher reported a “system outage.” A company official said gate traffic was moving smoothly this morning. However, truckers report continuing problems with delays and chassis supply.
Long lines were reported outside APM Terminals and Global Terminal, where unusually heavy ship volume has coincided with major construction. However, truckers said traffic was flowing more smoothly today.
Maher Terminals said it will extend free time and waive demurrage charges through Friday as a result of renewed computer problems this week, and that an additional ship call has been subcontracted to another port terminal.
This is the third consecutive week that free time and demurrage have been extended at Maher. The company has extended daily gate hours until 7 p.m. and stayed open last Saturday to clear the backlog. Maher said it will maintain the extended hours next week but that truck lines will be closed this Saturday and on July 4.
Truckers say they’re taking the brunt of the problems.
“I thought Hurricane Sandy was bad, but this is making Sandy look like a little rain shower,” said Mike Baicher, president of West End Express, a Dayton, N.J., drayage operator.
He said delays at Maher have rippled to other terminals, and that his drivers have been waiting an average of five to seven hours to pick up or deliver a load.
Maher said the APM Cyprine and YML Milestone were diverted to Port Newark Container Terminal. Maher had previously said the YML Milestone would be worked at Maher. A total of 11 ship calls have been subcontracted to other terminals since June 14.
Maher agreed to provide truckers with two hours of additional detention payments through last week to offset some of their costs for waiting time outside the terminals, but drayage companies say they’re still being hit with expenses they can’t recoup.
Truckers say they’re having to pay added charges for container per-diem fees, chassis rental, and payments to drivers stuck in long lines. Baicher said the biggest concern is that customers will switch to competing motor carriers or even other ports.
“I’ve had some customers tell me they’re going to start diverting freight to other ports if this continues. The West Coast was mentioned most,” he said. “Customers have a choice. They can go elsewhere.”