New Truck Management System Cutting Truck Turn Times At Port Of NY-NJ

The appointment system designed to combat congestion and improve efficiency at a major terminal of the Port of New York and New Jersey has cut about 40 percent off turn times, the terminal operator said Tuesday. GCT Terminals said the early analysis is promising, but one full roll-out after pilots on the weekends doesn’t made a trend. Port truckers skeptical of its merits said they didn’t encounter any major problems on the first regular working day, which followed four pilot days.

From Sunday, all trucks entering Global Container Terminal in Bayonne between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. were required to make an appointment the day before, in the latest effort by a major US port to improve efficiency by smoothing the flow of traffic and containers in and out of container terminals. John Atkins, president of Global Container Terminal USA, which owns the terminal, said about 350 truck appointments were made Monday and Tuesday, and about 425 are signed up for Wednesday. Initial analysis shows that the appointment system has helped cut turn times at the terminal by 40 percent compared with turn times after 8 a.m., after which no appointments are required, he said. “A couple of days doesn’t set a trend, but we are very pleased with the early results we have got,” said Atkins, who did not give out the length of turn time in minutes.

The system, at just one out of the six terminals at the largest port on the East Coast, is designed to improve drayage efficiency. Such efficiency at the port is critical as it prepares to meet the increased workload and additional systemic stress expected after the completion of a project to raise the Bayonne Bridge at the end of the year. The project will enable ships that can carry more than 10,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units to stop at all four of the port’s main terminals. Only one – Global Container Terminal – is at present accessible to big ships because they can’t get under the bridge.

The idea of an appointment system – also known as a Truck Management System, or “reservation” system – was one of the key initiatives recommended by the port’s Council on Port Performance, which was created three years ago to improve efficiency at the port. Yet, truckers are skeptical of the idea, saying there are too many factors outside of their control that could prevent a truck from arriving at the terminal at the designated time.

New York-New Jersey is the latest port to try an appointment system in an effort to improve container and truck flows in and out of terminals, and provide consistency as to how long it will take.  Seven of the thirteen container terminals in the Los Angeles-Long Beach ports have appointment systems, and at least two more are expected to come online this year. Oakland International Container Terminal, the largest terminal in Oakland, started an appointment system last year, and a voluntary truck reservation system has been in operation for several years at Virginia International Gateway.