Port Congestion is Low this Peak Season

Despite local damage in the U.S. Gulf region, impact from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the national rail system was relatively modest, according the Global Insight’s Port Tracker, although the September report indicated medium congestion as Los Angeles/Long Beach. In fact, most recent ratings indicated that all ports surveyed were ranked as having low congestion, with none listed as medium or high.

Global Insight’s principal economist, Paul Bingham, says, “Transportation providers and shippers made decisions that reduced pressure on the system compared with a year ago. Despite the disruptions to the national system from the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, the risk of congestion now appears lower than we were concerned with last month. The slower overall growth in container volume has also contributed to this situation.”

For Port Tracker’s six-month forecast period, traffic for the ports covered is expected to peak at 1.42 million TEU this month, which is up 7.4% year over year. It is projected to settle back to 1.42 million TEU in February 2006, which would be up 7% year over year.

The report indicates that inbound container traffic is growing more slowly than during the same period last year. Port Tracker says that East Coast port inbound container volumes will reach a record level this month. The prediction for East Coast ports is that for the six-month period covered in the report, volumes will increase between 5 and 8%, year over year.

Global Insight developed its Port Tracker for the NRF in response to port congestion experiences in 2004, particularly up and down the West Coast. Now a product for sale by subscription by Global Insight, Port Tracker takes into consideration inbound container volume, availability of trucks and railroad cars to move cargo, labor conditions and a number of other factors.

www.nrf.com/porttracker or call 202-783-7971.

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