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

20 Sep 2021
Ocean carriers, terminal operators, and stevedores have joined to fight against the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, arguing the bill will cause detention and demurrage to increase and further constrain the supply chain.
26 Aug 2021
US railroads have begun to control the number of containers leaving ports on trains per day to tailor volume to equipment and labor capacity, but some are skeptical this new strategy will resolve the crippling congestion in inland US markets.
13 Aug 2021
Although US imports from Asia have returned to single-digit growth after 11 consecutive months of double-digit increases, the cargo base is so large that even incremental growth this peak season will result in record import volumes.
13 Aug 2021
President Biden’s recognition of global supply chain challenges draws attention to congestion in the US supply chain and should result in direct measures to mitigate the problems, according to the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.
13 Aug 2021
With ocean carriers pushing importers toward transloading in California amid record-high spot intermodal rates, trucks are becoming a hot commodity in Los Angeles in August.
30 Jul 2021
Intermodal shippers saved record amounts of money in the second quarter, but rate hikes in California, Texas, and Washington will make trucks the cheaper option on transactional loads in the western US going forward.
26 Jul 2021
Union Pacific has begun a controlled restoration of train service from West Coast ports to the Chicago metropolitan area, hoping a fresh restart will restore terminal fluidity for international intermodal customers.
22 Jul 2021
CSX and Union Pacific are working hard to restore fluidity on intermodal networks, but both companies said that issues may persist through the end of the year.
19 Jul 2021
BNSF Railway is rationing the number of ocean containers it will move between Southern California and Logistics Park Chicago for two weeks in an effort to relieve mounting congestion caused by a flood of imports to the Midwest.
15 Jul 2021
Union Pacific’s emergency measure is meant to help move a stack of containers at its Global IV terminal outside of Chicago where an estimated 2,000–3,000 containers sit without chassis.
24 Jun 2021
The plight of one BCO on the hook for huge storage fees is familiar to fellow importers struggling to access thousands of containers at Union Pacific Railroad’s Global IV terminal in Joliet, Illinois.
11 Jun 2021
Knight-Swift Transportation, one of the top five US domestic intermodal providers, will be leaving BNSF Railway on Jan. 1, 2022, to partner with Union Pacific Railroad in the western US.
19 May 2021
In reporting a $590 million net income in the first quarter, Zim Integrated Shipping Services said it would expand its chartered fleet to handle what it expects will be 30 percent more volume in 2021 than in 2020.
13 May 2021
Land use has been a problem as imports have surged across top US ports, causing issues on how to balance space to devote to inbound and outbound containers in key interior cities.
13 May 2021
The US Commerce Department has reaffirmed a large antidumping duty on Chinese-made chassis in a final determination that will impact the transportation of international and domestic containers.
20 Apr 2021
A group of Memphis shippers and truckers want the US Surface Transportation Board to instruct railroads to stop charging storage fees until a chassis shortage is resolved.
19 Apr 2021
Intermodal service in Kansas City is a “complete mess,” according to three cargo owners, with an import surge causing chassis shortages and restrictions on what containers can be picked up or dropped off at rail terminals.
13 Apr 2021
A US International Trade Commission vote Tuesday clears the way for a countervailing duty on Chinese chassis and is likely to open the door to tripling the cost of chassis to importers, exporters, truckers, and chassis providers.
12 Apr 2021
Domestic intermodal shippers in California will be subject to a surcharge of $1,000 to $1,500 on excess contract cargo beginning Apr. 25, the first time Union Pacific has instituted such a peak-season fee before the summer.
08 Apr 2021
Shippers can save more money than ever before on intermodal, if they could find equipment and draymen to move their cargo to and from rail terminals amid scarce supply of both.
08 Apr 2021
Zim’s launching of another expedited trans-Pacific service reflects the container line’s ability to quickly capitalize on rising e-commerce demand in the United States.
26 Mar 2021
New DOT chief Pete Buttigieg has pledged to help ease port congestion and help exporters, but industry observers tell JOC.com that the federal government has limited short-term recourse.
22 Mar 2021
Zim Integrated Shipping Services said it believes global port congestion has reached its peak, it doesn’t expect US import pressures to let up.
17 Mar 2021
The Commerce Department will push ahead with an anti-dumping duty on Chinese-built marine chassis, which would raise prices on equipment at a time when there are dislocations and shortages in several US ports and rail hubs.
09 Mar 2021
UP will assess a first-ever March surcharge of $250 on “low-volume shippers” in California effective March 21, just days after an announcement that will kick more US shippers into that category.
08 Mar 2021
Months-long congestion and the slow return of empty containers at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York and New Jersey are flowing inland to key rail hubs such as Chicago and Dallas.
19 Feb 2021
Trans-Pacific shippers are being hit with a double whammy of huge rate hikes and poor service as ports and inland supply chains struggle to handled a seemingly unending deluge of imports from Asia into North America.
17 Feb 2021
The Federal Maritime Commission will take a deep look into the detention and demurrage practices in Southern California and New York and New Jersey, requiring ocean carriers and maritime terminal operators to answer questions about their policies related to importers and exporters.
16 Feb 2021
Union Pacific Railroad is shutting down virtually all business across its intermodal network for 72 hours because of snow and ice in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and even as far south as Texas.
03 Feb 2021
Shippers may see intermodal savings evaporate in the first quarter if rail contracts rise more than 10 percent and spot truck rates continue to cool off and pressure truck contracts.
02 Feb 2021
FMC Commissioner Carl Bentzel said rerouting ships to the ports of Seattle and Tacoma could take up to six weeks, but he doesn’t see a better alternative to easing Southern California port congestion.
01 Feb 2021
In announcing its new Oakland service, the president of CMA CGM and APL in the United States says he does not expect congestion in Southern California to clear up until at least June
01 Feb 2021
California’s request for the Federal Maritime Commission to take immediate action on export delays shows political pressure is mounting to deal with Southern California port congestion that began over the summer.
29 Jan 2021
The British Columbia ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, as well as US East and Gulf Coast ports, will be looking to further increase their share of US imports from Asia in 2021.
14 Jan 2021
Union Pacific Railroad’s decision to rescind record-breaking surcharges on the West Coast beginning Jan. 17 will lower prices for importers moving cargo through Los Angeles.
13 Jan 2021
Kip Louttit, executive director at the maritime exchange, said that 18 more vessels are slated to call the port complex over the next three days, as ships at anchor outpace ships at berth.

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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