Port of Oakland Fights Traffic with Extra Hours

Port of Oakland at night (file image courtesy Basil D. Soufi)

By MarEx 2016-06-07 21:01:13

Ports across the U.S. have examined the possibility of extended gate hours to alleviate congestion and improve the flow of cargo. Long turn times cut profit margins for truckers and delay cargo for shippers and vessel operators - and at some ports the traffic jam can extend for hours. "When turn times are more than an hour, to an hour and a half or longer, we have a problem," said Chris Lytle, executive director of the Port of Oakland, speaking to JOC last year. 

The Port of Oakland has the highest rate of truck transactions per gate of any West Coast port, and it has worked hard over the past year to find ways to spread out the concentrated traffic. Oakland announced a gate fee last August, levied during peak hours Monday through Friday, with the resulting funds going to pay for nightttime and weekend gate operations at its largest terminal – following the lead of LA and Long Beach and shifting away from a longstanding American port tradition of five-days-a-week drayage. 

On Monday, Oakland International Container Terminal announced that it would offer full night operations, even after the end of a port subsidy program, and would expand them to include more labor-intensive import cargo pickups in addition to export drop-offs. Night gates will run Monday through Thursday; to pay for the added hours and the added labor, the terminal will charge a $30 flat fee on all loaded import and export boxes.

“Thousands of cargo transactions have migrated to nighttime thanks to Oakland International Container Terminal,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “It’s imperative that we continue with extended hours to expand the workday and improve cargo flow.”

The port has also created a mobile device app for truckers that tells them how long the queue is at terminal gates, allowing them to plan to arrive at times of lower congestion.