The number of days containers wait to be picked up by trucks at California’s neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rose to a record in October, just before authorities announced a new plan to curb delayed pickups.
The so-called dwell time for containers waiting at marine terminals for trucks averaged 7.64 days at the two largest U.S. ports last month, up from nearly 6 days in September, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association said in a statement Monday. Nearly half of the containers unloaded had to wait more than five days, it said.
Meanwhile, wait times for containers leaving terminals by rail in October improved to 3.9 days from 5.5 days in September, resulting in the most efficient month this year.
“Terminals are not designed for long-term cargo storage,” said Jessica Alvarenga, PMSA’s director of government affairs.
To address the bottlenecks, the ports and the White House on Oct. 25 announced a plan to charge shippers $100 a day for each container that remains on the docks for at least three days. On Monday they postponed for a second time the start of the charges because the number of containers waiting to be transported at the terminals dropped by a third.
Labor shortages, aging infrastructure, containers in inadequate locations and underspending U.S. buyers have spurred a surge in imports that has disrupted the flow of global trade. Bottlenecks in manufacturing, transportation and retail networks have deteriorated to the point that the Biden administration has created a task force to smooth out bottlenecks in the run-up to the holiday shopping season.