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 Jul 2020
Truck turn times in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continue to improve, but truckers seek more timely information from carriers and terminals so they can further reduce visit times.
19 Jun 2020
HMM will be switching from BNSF Railway to Union Pacific Railroad in August, a move that allows it to prioritize efficient inland movement of containers within THE Alliance.
10 Jun 2020
The focus of IPI has been moving away from the US West Coast toward the East Coast and Western Canada. This has big implications for individual railroads, but also broader impacts regarding shorter length of haul and diminishing industry revenue per move.
15 May 2020
Sources say there is little doubt that automation will be a major issue for the ILWU when negotiations begin, likely in early 2022. The question is how hard it will press the issue.
08 May 2020
With tensions on the rise, groups representing ocean carriers and truck companies are open to meeting to resolve their differences on chassis.
23 Apr 2020
North American intermodal volume may plunge as much as 25 percent in the second quarter, so railroads believe the right strategy is to focus on cost-cutting while providing reliable service.
07 Apr 2020
A coalition of 80 agricultural shippers is urging the Trump administration to get involved in the detention and demurrage debate now before the Federal Maritime Commission, saying the issue is even more important now amid supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
31 Mar 2020
The Federal Maritime Commission will engage stakeholders on how it can maintain cargo fluidity in the supply chain during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in a bid to avoid disruption.
19 Mar 2020
While truck activity is rampant for essential goods, US fashion footwear freight movement is slowing to a halt as department stores shut down, according to supply chain executives.
13 Mar 2020
DCLI has invested $80 million in upgrading chassis, including going to all-radial tires in Memphis and the Gulf Coast, a major benefit of controlling its own equipment rather than outsourcing to a cooperative, the company said.
12 Mar 2020
Freight forwarders and non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) don’t believe the disruption related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rises nearly to the level of the port labor slowdowns in 2014-2015 or Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy in 2016.
06 Mar 2020
Due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus, truckers are urging the Federal Maritime Commission to push for relief against detention charges and rising chassis fees.
04 Mar 2020
While Ocean Network Express is waiving detention penalties tied to the coronavirus, other ocean carriers have not shown as much flexibility when cargo owners cannot return empty boxes during the supply chain disruption.
26 Feb 2020
Domestic intermodal volumes rose in January year on year, but there is little else for intermodal marketing companies (IMCs) to feel good about right now.
13 Feb 2020
The long-promised National Freight Strategic Plan should be about more than highways, groups representing US ports and shippers said this week. The question still is how to pay for freight priorities.
06 Feb 2020
There are no positives to be found in the Intermodal Association of North America’s latest market report, which shows year-over-year volume fell 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 and 4.1 percent for the full year, with declines in all types of containers.
UP to resume service on nearly 60 lanes it cut in 2018
28 Jan 2020
Union Pacific Railroad will resume service on nearly 60 previously eliminated lanes beginning Feb. 1, a move it linked to its precision scheduled railroading operation, but others said was designed to win back lost market share.
10 Jan 2020
The intermodal picture at the start of 2020 is lackluster because the trucking market isn’t on the verge of a major rebound unless there is an economic catalyst.
09 Jan 2020
A California judge has sided with Cal Cartage in a lawsuit brought by the State of California, agreeing with a District Court restraining order issued Dec. 31 that AB5 does not apply to trucking because of federal preemption.
US West Coast ports competing through infrastructure, technology
30 Dec 2019
Seaports on the US West Coast aim to regain some of the market share they have lost over the past five years to the East and Gulf coasts by building infrastructure and implementing technology needed to move cargo cheaper and faster.
16 Dec 2019
Despite retailers’ expectations that a front-loading of imports to avoid now-canceled tariffs that would have gone into effect Dec. 15 would drive up volumes last month, US imports from Asia fell for the second straight month.
13 Dec 2019
A number of ocean carriers are adjusting their detention and demurrage fees in the next 30 days, causing shippers to pay more for these penalties being reviewed by the Federal Maritime Commission.
27 Nov 2019
The extent to which US retailers rebuild their inventories post-Christmas will provide a hint as to how consumers will respond to mixed economic signals and higher prices on some Chinese goods.
26 Nov 2019
Barring a major turnaround in December, BNSF Railway and CSX Transportation will record their lowest annual intermodal volumes this year since 2016, and two other Class I railroads could possibly join that list.
18 Nov 2019
Using technology to correct documentation errors before trucker appointments are made and the terminals’ use of appointment systems to meter gate traffic reduced turn times in in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to a six-year low in October.
12 Nov 2019
The Port of Los Angeles anticipates a very soft fourth quarter due to US tariffs on Chinese imports, which a new report said threatens 1.5 million US jobs and more than $186 billion in economic activity.
04 Nov 2019
A group of agricultural exports blames ocean carriers and terminal operators for creating crippling terminal congestion and then profiting off the problem.
31 Oct 2019
Stakeholders in the container shipping industry are debating how demurrage clocks should begin, when they should be suspended, and when it’s fair and unfair to assess penalties to beneficial cargo owners (BCOs).
29 Oct 2019
Weston LaBar, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association, said turn times in Los Angeles-Long Beach have improved noticeably this year due to collaboration among truckers and marine terminal operators.
30 Sep 2019
YRC Freight is building its own fleet of domestic containers — to reach 600 by year’s end — for use on BNSF Railway lines connecting West Coast ports with the US heartland.
30 Sep 2019
Falling behind on connectivity for import/export cargo can easily trigger the negative feedback loop, eventually leading to elimination of the regular liner services.
24 Sep 2019
Los Angeles’ 2018 inventory of air emissions, like the Long Beach report that preceded it by a week, shows the largest US container port has already met or exceeded to emission-reduction goals that had been set for 2023.
05 Sep 2019
The California state legislature is on track to pass a bill, which the governor intends to sign into law, that could fundamentally alter the relationship between shippers, trucking companies, and port truck drivers. It's expected to be signed before an intermodal conference this month in Long Beach.
29 Aug 2019
J.B. Hunt has informed shippers it will assess peak season surcharges on excess freight out of California and Washington state even though volumes are much weaker than a year ago.
14 Aug 2019
The containerized shipping industry was able to convince the US Trade Representative to take cranes and containers off a list of tariffs going into effect on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.
30 Jul 2019
The lead investor in a container support facility in Los Angeles criticized the port for what he termed giving in to political and ILWU pressure by declaring a key efficiency initiative known as the Harbor Performance Enhancement Center to be “infeasible.”

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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