Drayage Crisis 2014

Drayage Crisis 2014

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.

Special Coverage

Thumbnail of Drayage Flashpoints graphic
With the spring retail season at hand, the U.S. economy showing signs of accelerating and the import peak season six months away, there’s growing concern that shippers and their supply chains will feel the impact unless systemic problems with how containers flow from ships through ports to inland destinations are addressed.

News & Analysis

23 Dec 2014
Less than a month before it takes effect, the Port Metro Vancouver drayage program faces major headwinds with truck drivers threatening to strike if changes to pay aren’t made.
19 Aug 2014
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission is moving forward in a fledgling effort to reduce long truck wait times at some ports in the U.S. by holding a forum in Southern California next month and another in Baltimore in the fall.
Port Metro Vancouver
29 Jul 2014
Last winter, congestion at Port Metro Vancouver was so bad that it triggered a month-long strike by hundreds of truck drivers. Four months later, turn times are averaging less than an hour.
26 Jul 2014
Drayage drivers serving New York-New Jersey port terminals said at a weekend forum that they need quick action to reduce turn times that require them to sit in long queues for several hours a day without full compensation.
22 Jul 2014
The union representing about 400 harbor truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver has given Canadian officials until July 30 to enforce government-mandated pay rates for drivers, or face another possible trucker strike at Canada’s largest port.
22 Jul 2014
Pacific International Lines has advised its customers that effective Dec.

Commentary

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.