Requiring shippers to pay extra for off-peak gate hours may not solve congestion problems at the Port of Oakland, a shipper advocacy group contends.
In a 19 August letter to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) president Bruce Carlton warned that a scheme to be named Oakpass, proposed by a group of container terminal operators at the port that would add a weekend gate shift for drayage truckers, lacks too much information.
“We do not know the level of fee to be charged, the number of work shifts that will be added, the number of participating terminals, or whether there will be clear standards to measure congestion levels,” Carlton said in the letter.
Carlton wrote that NITL’s concerns stem from the off-peak programme PierPASS at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, initiated in 2005 and on which Oakpass is apparently based.
Carlton pointed out that when traffic levels at Los Angeles-Long Beach dropped at the beginning of the recession in 2008; off-peak gate hours were suspended but the fee was still collected from shippers.
“Night time gate hours are still less than optimal, yet PierPASS just announced yet another increase in their fee for daytime cargo operations,” Carlton said.
NITL acknowledged that while the FMC has limited authority to challenge Oakpass, it should “at a minimum” seek answers to a list of 13 questions about the scheme, including the amount of proposed shipper fees and proof that it will reduce congestion.
Oakland is the third largest container port on the US west coast, behind the Los Angeles-Long Beach complex in southern California and Seattle-Tacoma in Puget Sound in Washington State. It handles 99% of the container cargo moving through northern California, according to the port, with much of that volume carried by trucks on roads leading in and out of the port.