PierPass Inc., the nonprofit that runs the off-peak terminal gate program at the San Pedro Bay Ports, may alter the program based on a commissioned study by Tioga Group Inc. and World Class Logistics Consulting. The recommendations from that study, which examined how to create a more effective terminal operation system at the ports, were presented to more than 60 supply chain leaders in a meeting on March 8. The final study has not yet been released, but an overview of the presentation is available on PierPass’s website.
The first recommendation was to institute appointment systems for trucks to manage the flow of traffic and terminal workloads. Another was to replace the current incentive fee system, which encourages nighttime terminal visits, with a flat fee for trucks visiting terminals during both daytime and nighttime shifts in order to function better with appointments. Doing so would address congestion that occurs as trucks queue up to enter terminals at the time of a shift change.
Another option presented was to integrate a convention peel-off option along with an appointment system to reduce truck turn times. In a peel-off program, containers are piled onto terminals based upon their destination. Truckers take the next available container from a stack that corresponds with their destination.
The 12 marine terminal operators (MTO) at the San Pedro Bay ports must decide upon any changes to the PierPass system as members of the Federal Maritime Commission-sanctioned West Coast MTO Agreement. John Cushing, president and CEO of PierPass, told the Business Journal that he expects the decision within weeks.
Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, provided the following statement regarding the future of PierPass: “As marine terminals act to improve operations and evolve with an increasingly time-sensitive supply chain, there is a great need to examine ways to meet growing demands for efficiency, such as a port complex-wide uniform drayage reservation system to include expanded and consistent night gate hours. The Port of Long Beach welcomes further discussion of the opportunities to take PierPass to the next level, moving cargo faster and more sustainably and enhancing the competitiveness of the San Pedro Bay gateway.”
Alex Cherin, executive director of the California Trucking Association (CTA) Intermodal Conference, was generally in favor of the recommendations. “We appreciate the effort that the terminal operators and PierPass took to review some of the feedback that they’ve received from stakeholders over the last couple of years,” Cherin said. His organization, as well as other supply chain stakeholder associations, have previously expressed discontentment with the current PierPass system due to congestion caused when terminals switch between day and night shifts, as well as cost impacts associated with night time work.
“The trucking community is generally supportive of the option that would spread out the traffic between both the day and the night shifts and then use sort of a robust appointment system,” Cherin said, noting that he supports the idea of a flat fee. “Of course, the devil is in the details and we want to make sure that the appointment structure that they put together is viable and you know can be delivered,” he added. Cherin said the recommendations could be implemented within the next few months.