PierPASS is off to a good start

On first blush, PierPASS (www.pierpass.org) is turning out to be a victim of its own success. The initiative at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which launched in late July, charges a fee of $20 per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU). The fee is refunded on containers that are handled during off-peak hours. With a goal of shifting 15% to 20% of all container moves to off-peak hours within 12 months, the program exceeded expectations within its first two weeks by shifting 30% of container volume to evenings and Saturdays.

However, truck drivers have complained of some delays at certain terminals on certain days. PierPASS officials suggest some of the delays may be the result of drivers showing up at the terminal gate at 5:00 p.m. Terminals reopen for off-peak operations at 6:00 p.m., PierPASS management points out, so any drivers arriving before that time have to wait. The surge in volumes moving to off-peak also led PierPASS to recommend drivers avoid the first hour of off-peak operations – an off-peak peak time?

Over the last five years, according to PierPASS management, drivers hauling containers into and out of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have seen turn rates drop from an average of three per shift to about two per shift due to the dramatic rise in Asian volumes. Though the not-for-profit administrator of the off-peak initiative expresses confidence that drivers are achieving at least the two turns per shift during off-peak hours that they do during the day, reports indicate drivers are not convinced they are getting much more than 1.5 turns.

PierPASS claims the program has shifted 88,000 truck trips to off-peak hours. Though PierPASS says it experienced no significant labor issues during its first two weeks, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union staged a rally when the program launched, complaining that PierPASS would “extend already long hours port drivers are forced to work.”

PierPASS countered with claims that the five additional shifts would initially create 350 to 550 jobs. In any event, while the bugs get worked out, the basic goals of the initiative seem to be within reach. LT

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