West Coast Ports

West Coast Ports

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40 percent of U.S. imports from Asia, will spend more than $7 billion in the coming decade on larger, more efficient terminals and improved connectivity to rail and highway networks.

To prevent an erosion of their market share to East Coast ports, L.A.-Long Beach, along with the ports of Seattle-Tacoma and Oakland, are striving to improve their efficiency at unloading vessels, moving containers through their yards, and expediting the departure of containers by truck and intermodal rail.

Recording a rate of about 25 container moves per crane per hour, West Coast port operations are under pressure to increase those numbers to at least 30 moves per hour. Terminal operators are exploring options for automating yard, gate and on-dock rail operations. The busiest terminals will invest in costly equipment such as dual-hoist cranes, automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes.

At the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, billions of dollars in new investments will make it possible to deal with the surges that have frustrated shippers and truckers. The biggest infrastructure impact in the immediate future will come from completion this year of the $1.5 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project in Long Beach. Meanwhile, Oakland Portal, launched in 2018, is a digital collaboration platform that provides information on vessel schedules, cargo status, and live camera views of local roadways in the Oakland, California area. The newest feature provides average turn times for the most recent 30-minute period.

News & Analysis

14 Sep 2022
While railroad management and unions were meeting with US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to avert a strike, confidence is waning as shippers, railroads, and ports prepare for a shutdown early Friday.
13 Sep 2022
All eyes turned to Washington amid the realization that a rail strike disrupting the already fragile US supply chain six weeks before crucial midterm elections would not be helpful to the White House and Congressional Democrats.
12 Sep 2022
Shippers are in a wait-and-see mode as the obstacle to a deal with the country’s two largest rail unions is about lifestyle concerns rather than compensation, a source close to the negotiations told JOC.com.
09 Sep 2022
The stakes are high for a rail labor deal to be reached because the Association of American Railroads estimates that a strike would cost the US economy $2 billion per day, while a disruption would be a political liability for the Biden administration.
12 Aug 2022
North American chassis manufacturers expect to fall well short of their production goals this year despite widespread equipment shortages that have exacerbated congestion in key ports and inland hubs.
09 Aug 2022
Union Pacific Railroad will issue a partial rebate on intermodal loads in Northern California to help defray the cost of moving boxes between Lathrop to Oakland starting next month.
03 Aug 2022
Rail terminals are congested for the second consecutive year in Kansas City, causing truckers and importers to lash out at BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad.
25 Jul 2022
BNSF and UP are metering containers from Southern California to avoid another intermodal meltdown like last summer, but the move is causing some import boxes to sit for six weeks or longer.
12 Jul 2022
US warehouse woes are now showing in lower train speeds and on-time performance among Class I railroads, as stakeholders turn up the heat on retailers for not retrieving their cargo fast enough from depots and terminals.
30 Jun 2022
Union Pacific Railroad will temporarily re-align its domestic intermodal network in Northern California to accommodate a construction project meant to expand container capacity in the region ahead of Schneider National bringing more volume in 2023.
27 Jun 2022
BNSF Railway is stacking ocean containers outside Dallas as cargo owners struggle to unload inventory in a timely manner and chassis providers scramble to reposition equipment sent to Houston earlier this year.
27 May 2022
BNSF Railway is congested in Chicago, Memphis, and Kansas City with not enough chassis to move ocean containers, but the railroad is taking several measures to alleviate the congestion.
27 May 2022
Union Pacific Railroad is warning that chassis supply could get tight soon in several US markets and it will not allow shippers to use their own private chassis if DCLI, TRAC Intermodal, and Flexi-Van Leasing run out of equipment.
20 May 2022
Norfolk Southern Railway is reducing service on 120 international intermodal lanes to simplify its network and improve service, but some companies are worried it will harm exporters and chassis supply.
16 May 2022
Chassis shortages are disrupting rail ramps in Chicago for the second consecutive year, but cargo flow through other inland markets outside the Upper Midwest is more fluid than a year ago.
11 May 2022
Truckload spot rates out of California have fallen for five straight months, but some believe demand will rebound as the COVID outbreak in China subsides and front-loaded cargo ordered to beat potential labor disruption on the West Coast hits the ports.
28 Apr 2022
Federal Maritime Commissioner Carl Bentzel wants the agency to regulate rail storage fees in certain cases when ocean containers cannot be picked up from an intermodal terminal through no fault of the cargo owner.
21 Apr 2022
Intermodal volumes and service metrics declined in the first quarter for CSX and UP, though both US railroads believe they can hire more labor and haul more ocean containers in the coming months.
08 Apr 2022
A recent resurgence in international intermodal volumes is causing BNSF Railway to struggle to provide consistent service, disrupting the flow of containers between Los Angeles and Chicago.
25 Mar 2022
Marine chassis pools are getting tighter after a jump in international intermodal volume from West Coast ports in February, but stakeholders are hopeful of avoiding a repeat of 2021 when BNSF and Union Pacific terminals were overwhelmed with cargo.
25 Mar 2022
XPO’s intermodal division has been sold to STG Logistics, an LCL provider that primarily transloads international cargo in Los Angeles and Long Beach and uses 53-foot intermodal containers to distribute goods across the US.
21 Mar 2022
The US Department of Agriculture and the port of Seattle have announced plans for a “pop-up” yard that will help with the pre-positioning of export containers for ag shippers.
16 Mar 2022
J.B. Hunt Transport Services will grow its box fleet by 40 percent to 150,000 containers within three to five years as it seeks to win market share from Union Pacific Railroad and its intermodal partners.
11 Mar 2022
While truckload rates off the West Coast have fallen in the last two months, analysts believe rising fuel prices will spur a rapid increase in shipper costs in the coming weeks.
04 Mar 2022
There will not be enough marine chassis produced to make a dent in the supply shortage until 2023 because of rising volume, longer street dwells, and supply chain slowdowns affecting manufacturers, panelists told TPM22.
15 Feb 2022
Truckload rates have cooled on the West Coast but have risen in some spots on the East Coast in early 2022, though it’s not clear yet whether the moves are tied to transloading shifts.
26 Jan 2022
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach want to give the temporary extension of a fee on daytime container moves more time to determine if truck moves during the off hours increase substantially.
25 Jan 2022
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are considering an innovative but complex plan to reduce the number of empty containers that are contributing to terminal congestion by incentivizing shipping lines to increase the volume of containers they pick up during each call.
10 Jan 2022
Norfolk Southern Railway will reduce international intermodal service out of Cincinnati to the West Coast, calling the routes “low volume,” but exporters may end up paying more for the changes.
07 Jan 2022
Union Pacific Railroad will rescind its peak season surcharges, a sign that domestic intermodal congestion in the western US has improved considerably in recent weeks
29 Dec 2021
Evergreen Marine has ordered six new ship-to-shore cranes after it completed berth dredging for a major capacity upgrade at its Los Angeles terminal.
27 Dec 2021
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach once again postpone the long-dwell container fees as a major terminal operator in Long Beach imposes fees of its own.
Dray Alliance is one of a number of technology providers aiming to arm harbor truckers in Southern California with tools to access loads, find terminal appointments, and manage their businesses. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.
14 Dec 2021
Investors continue to pour money into technology addressing long-neglected import drayage at US ports, with Dray Alliance nabbing a $40 million funding round Tuesday.
07 Dec 2021
The use of drivers accustomed to hauling 53-foot containers to pick up 20-foot and 40-foot boxes shows how US retail giants are pulling every lever to get truck power into the ports.
06 Dec 2021
NACPC, a trucker-owned chassis provider, is purchasing chassis manufacturer Pratt Industries, the first time a chassis provider has gotten directly involved in chassis production.
03 Dec 2021
Technology systems used to identify first available empty return appointments at Los Angeles and Long Beach container terminals may be a key in unlocking congestion in the key import gateway.

Commentary

Oakland effectively crossed the chasm between the old and new industries, putting it at the vanguard of a transition on the West Coast that will likely see terminal consolidation at Los Angeles-Long Beach, which has 13 terminals across the two ports, and perhaps further consolidation in the Pacific Northwest.  

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