With unprecedented congestion at Southern California ports, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are taking unprecedented steps to ease the gridlock.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are neighbors in the San Pedro Bay Port Complex and rank as the first and second largest container ports in the United States, respectively. Combined, the ports move approximately 40% of all containerized cargo entering the U.S. each year and about 30% of all containerized exports. In recent weeks, the number of vessels both in port and at anchor and even drifting offshore has reached all-time highs, with new records being set daily.
After consulting with multiple supply chain stakeholders and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles today announced bold new measures to improve goods movement and reduce delays at the ports, which continue to experience record volumes. Specifically, both ports will extend the hours that trucks can pick up and return containers, measures aimed at improving the ports’ shore-side operations to help meet unprecedented cargo volume growth and increase throughput.
Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, announced that Long Beach will take the first step toward a 24/7 supply chain by maximizing overnight operations. For his part, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka announced that the Port of Los Angeles will extend weekend gate operating hours. Dubbed “Accelerate Cargo LA,” the Port of Los Angeles program will operate on a pilot basis to ensure that gate availability meets cargo demand and provides greater transparency to improve efficiency.
Both ports are also asking marine terminal operators to incentivize the use of all available gate hours, especially night gates, to reduce congestion and maximize cargo throughput capacity.
“We appreciate the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration in organizing a response to the unprecedented global supply chain disruption felt so acutely here at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex,” said Port of Los Angeles Director Seroka. “These steps, in addition to what has been previously recommended, demonstrate that the Port of Los Angeles will continue to innovate to manage this historic surge in cargo.”
“The Port of Long Beach is prepared to take bold and immediate steps to help the supply chain move the record cargo volumes that keep our economy moving, and we appreciate the support and leadership shown by the Biden-Harris Administration,” added Port of Long Beach Director Cordero.
The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles say they will work closely with the trucking community to ensure that all truck operators understand how to take advantage of the incentivized gateway hours, as well as the expanded opportunities that will be created to move cargo during off-peak hours. In addition to the expanded hours and incentivized booking priority, the ports urge terminals and the trucking community to consider other corrective measures.
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Coastal Committee member Frank Ponce De Leo welcomed the initiative and said longshoremen are ready to meet the challenge.
ILWU longshoremen have continued to work every day during the pandemic, and we welcome the opportunity to work extended gate and weekend hours. In fact, our contracts allow our employers to hire us for third shift, facilitating 24-hour cargo movement,” De Leo said. “Longshoremen have been breaking records moving more cargo than ever at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and this move by the port directors will only work if others in the supply chain rise to the challenge.”
“I thank Directors Cordero and Seroka for their leadership and all the men and women who have helped meet the challenge of moving extraordinary cargo volumes during a global pandemic,” said John Porcari, the ports’ envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration’s task force on supply chain disruptions.