A steady increase in container traffic is putting pressure on drayage operators at the Port of Virginia, including Wyatt Transfer, a Richmond, Va., port trucker.
Container traffic at Virginia’s ports was up 14.2 percent in May and 12.5 percent for the first five months of 2010, the statewide port authority said.
The state’s ports handled almost 780,000 TEUs in that period, compared with 693,600 in the same five months of 2009.
Drayage companies serving the Hampton Roads ports and Richmond are struggling to find the drivers and equipment needed to keep up, said Charles G. Rosemond.
“I’m concerned we’re going to start having service failures,” he said Wednesday.
Business is “ramping up” toward 2008 levels, “but we don’t have the drivers we had in 2008,” Rosemond said in an interview at the SMC3 Summer Conference.
Wyatt Transfer has had to turn down requests for trucks from some of its local distribution partners, he said. “I could just sense the frustration in their voices on the phone,” said Rosemond. “Everyone’s saying they’re just totally slammed.”
The same pressure is being reported by drayage operators at ports across the country, as harbor truckers that downsized operations last year, laying off drivers and cutting owner-operators, suddenly face double-digit growth in cargo volume.
“The Virginia market is just a part of other markets,” Rosemond said. “What’s happening at my company is just a microscopic picture of what’s happening at other carriers over the last two weeks,” when he said volume picked up considerably.
“There’s not a real easy answer to this, because drivers are going to follow the best paying jobs,” said Rosemond.
U.S. Monthly Container Trade: Find more information at By The Numbers.
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