Drayage Crisis

Drayage Crisis

The fallout from last winter’s freeze and chain of storms underscores the systemic problems in North America’s port drayage infrastructure — problems that are still with us in the second half of 2014.

Congestion and delays at some of the largest North American ports — in particular New York-New Jersey  on the East Coast and Los Angeles-Long Beach in the West — were percolating even before frustration among drayage drivers boiled over at Port Metro Vancouver in February and March in the form of a walkout by union and non-union truckers. 

“Trucker dissatisfaction with marine terminals is not a local phenomenon," Bruce Wargo, president of PierPass, said at the JOC's TPM Conference in March. "It’s a symptom of the real problem, which is the traditional delivery process most terminals have in place today.”

Those processes haven't noticeably improved. In October, the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex is reeling from terminal congestion caused by strong cargo volumes, severe chassis dislocations and tardy intermodal rail service.

The drayage business is only complicated by ever-larger ships straining terminals already constricted by the lack of 24/7 operations, a shortage of chassis equipment and truck drivers, and a cost-is-king philosophy among all supply chain interests that equates to no one ponying up the money that could help eliminate the chokepoints.

Some ports are trying to get ahead of the problem, even if they’re already behind. New York-New Jersey and Virginia have formed task forces represented by various supply chain interests aimed at finding ways to improve port performance, including drayage issues.

The question is whether any proposals that emerge will be in time to prevent a complete breakdown — and whether all supply chain partners will work together to implement them.

News & Analysis

05 Nov 2015
Old Dominion Freight Line is rebuilding its drayage model around company drivers to better align container hauling with its less-than-truckload business and avoid court battles over worker classification. The less-than-truckload carrier is also focusing more on East Coast ports.
22 Sep 2015
Drayage truck drivers are leaving the industry in droves and it’s not just terminal congestion and poor pay that’s driving them out, say industry experts.
17 Jul 2015
TRAC Intermodal, one of the largest chassis-leasing companies on the West Coast, threw a monkey wrench into a controversial clause in the new International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract by refusing to pay for mandatory roadability inspections by the union.
The frequency of spot market loads from Los Angeles is increasing as the West Coast container logjam begins to break.
22 Mar 2015
Signs that the container logjam in Southern California is beginning to break are showing up on the truck spot market, as deconsolidated loads come up for grabs at West Coast warehouses.
Rail loading at Port of LA
18 Feb 2015
Shippers could see truck pricing 'skyrocket' as they scramble to move containers inland once the labor situation at U.S. West Coast ports is resolved, BB&T Capital Markets said.
Port of Melbourne, Australia
13 Feb 2015
An independent Australian government tribunal will consider whether to set new work rules or pay standards for the nation's drayage drivers, as well as other truckers, in 2015.


Nightmare scenarios are occurring all day, every day at the two biggest U.S. container ports, and the customers receiving some of the worst service are among the nation's largest shippers.