The average truck visit time at the 13 container terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach in May plunged to 78 minutes from 85 minutes in April, proving that cooperation between truckers and terminal operators can produce results, the Harbor Trucking Association said Tuesday. “While there are still issues of congestion, the partnership that the marine terminal and trucking communities have forged has had tremendous benefits for both industries,” the HTA said.
According to the HTA’s truck mobility data, which it publishes monthly, all but two of the terminals recorded improved turn times in May. The visit time at one of the terminals remained the same and at the other, the visit time increased by one minute. HTA measures the average visit time from arrival of the truck at the line outside the in-gate to its exit through the out-gate.
Terminal operators and truckers participate in task forces established last year by the two ports to address productivity issues, including terminal congestion. HTA for more than a year now has also had an outreach program in which truckers visit individual terminals to discuss mutual problems. For much of the past year after the ports returned to normal following the 2014 and 2015 congestion issues spawned by the coast wide contract negotiations, the average visit was stuck around 90 minutes. Average turn times suddenly dropped to 82 minutes in March, rose to 85 minutes in April, and then dropped sharply to 78 minutes last month.
Cargo volumes naturally drop off in the spring before picking up in the busy summer-fall peak-shipping season, but truckers are convinced that it was the joint effort of the terminal operators and truckers to address gate productivity issues, rather than reduced traffic, that drove most of the improvement. “Many of the terminals have worked closely with the drayage community to implement new programs and recognize efficiencies that allow for quicker delivery of cargo resulting in faster turn times,” HTA stated in a release.
For some terminals, the improvement was dramatic. Four of the terminals recorded double-digit decreases in total visit time. The leading terminal in May, as it always is, was Matson/SSA Marine, with an average visit time of 34 minutes. Matson vessels operate mostly in the domestic trades and are smaller than many of the mega-ships deployed in the trans-Pacific trades. HTA also measured separately the time trucks spent inside the terminal gates. In May, the average port-wide in-terminal time was 60 minutes, and six terminals had average in-terminal times under 50 minutes. In April, only three facilities had average in-terminal times below 50 minutes.
HTA said that through continued cooperation between the terminals and the trucking community, it expects further reductions in truck visit times in the coming months.