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Long Beach Container Terminal Pilot Program Moves Toward 24/7 Access

Port of Long Beach expands truckr access to address container volume surge
With record volumes continuing TTI Terminals is expanding gate access (Port of Long Beach)

Published Sep 22, 2021 3:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

One of the large container terminals at the Port of Long Beach has become the first to announce a new pilot project to expand overnight access for truckers to move containers as the ports explore moving to 24/7 operations. The pilot project follows the recent announcement by the ports working with the U.S. Department of Transportation to take steps to improve freight movement and reduce delays at the San Pedro Bay port complex.

Total Terminals International container terminal on Pier T in the Port of Long Beach is making it easier for trucks to access the facility during the overnight hours with a goal of reducing the amount of time cargo spends on the dock. The terminal is taking two significant steps to increase cargo pickup in the late-night, early morning hours when there is less traffic on the region’s freeways and surface streets.

“We are in the midst of a historic surge in cargo, and our terminal operators and other supply chain partners are giving their all to keep it all moving,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We welcome this pilot project by TTI as a first step toward extending gates to 24/7 operations, and we encourage our cargo owners and trucking partners to give this innovative program a try.”

As part of the pilot program, TTI Terminals is widening the arrival window available to truckers between the hours of 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Trucks with appointments will be permitted to enter the gates at any time between those hours as opposed to having to arrive or wait for their specific reserved time slot.  Additionally, TTI is opening gates during the third shift, from 3 to 7 a.m., Monday to Thursday, for two-way, prearranged truck appointments to both drop-off and pick up a container in the same trip, a practice that increases efficiency for the port and the driver.

“If we can increase utilization of our late night gates, we can better serve the supply chain, and help speed cargo to market,” said Bill Peratt, CEO of TTI. “By making it more convenient for truckers, we are optimistic that these steps can reduce the dwell time at our terminal.”

The first in likely a series of steps by the terminal operators and ports comes as vessel activity remains elevated at near record levels. On September 21, the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported that a total of 153 vessels were in the complex, which included 60 vessels at anchor and another 29 in drift areas as the anchorage remains full. Included in these figures are 69 containerships waiting for terminal space, just shy of the record of 74 containerships waiting set two days earlier on September 19.

Highlighting the continuing surge in the number of containerships arriving at the ports, the Marine Exchange reported so far in September a total of 125 containerships have arrived with 17 extra ships beyond forecasts, which is 15 percent above the pre-pandemic levels in the ports. Over the next three days, the Marine Exchange reported, a further 41 vessels are scheduled to arrive, including 13 additional containerships. 

“This is an ideal time to start these new measures as we work across the supply chain to find solutions to the current capacity crunch,” said Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Steven Neal. “Our supply chain workforce is to be commended for toiling tirelessly throughout this surge to keep record amounts of cargo moving.”

The Port of Long Beach said that the terminal will monitor gate utilization, dwell time of import containers, and truck driver productivity during the pilot program. They plan to evaluate and adjust the program to achieve the goals to drive down on-terminal dwell and increase driver productivity.