Port of Oakland doing more work at night than ever before

Date: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Source: AJOT

More truckers now visit the Port of Oakland at night than at any time in its 91-year history. Oakland’s largest marine terminal said today that it’s conducting between 1,500 and 2,000 daily truck transactions after sundown. That’s up from 800 a year ago.

Port officials said that the difference is night and day, pointing out that night gates have:

  • Curbed daytime congestion even though Oakland’s containerized cargo volume broke records in 2017
  • Reduced truck traffic on city streets and freeways
  • Accelerated shipment deliveries to cargo owners
  • Enabled truck drivers, mostly independent operators, to transport more containers daily, thereby boosting their income

“Night operations have transformed the Port,” said Executive Director Chris Lytle. “No more 8-to-5 work days…we’re too busy for that.”

Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) introduced night gates two years ago to take pressure off overburdened daytime operations. It was the first terminal to open for a second shift in Oakland history. Nearby TraPac marine terminal has been testing night gates, as well. Freight haulers use the gates for everything from picking up loaded import containers to dropping off refrigerated exports.

According to OICT, truck transaction times have averaged 60-to-90 minutes since night gates began. In the past, a driver could wait 2-to-3 hours to conduct business. The terminal said night gates account for about 30 percent of its daily transaction volume.

“We’ve spread out the truck traffic and improved the drivers’ turn times,” said Jim Rice, General Manager at Oakland International Container Terminal. “Night gates have allowed us to operate nine shifts a week with a domino effect: there’s less traffic and congestion and it’s easier for cargo owners to pick up their shipments.”

Rapid cargo movement is essential at marine terminals. That’s the critical supply chain intersection where ships, trucks and trains hand-off containerized shipments.

Oakland International Container Terminal is the second-busiest marine terminal in the U.S. It handles 60-to-70 percent of all containerized cargo in Oakland. By stretching its workday, the terminal has helped Oakland improve overall operating performance, the Port said.

“Oakland International Container Terminal has really led the charge with all of its investments and most importantly adding the night gates,” said Peter Schneider, Vice President with T.G.S. Transportation Inc., one of the major motor carriers serving the Port. “It has helped transform not only Oakland, but many other ports.”

Since 2017, a number of U.S. ports have followed Oakland’s lead by introducing night hours. Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach said they’re studying Oakland as they consider revamping night operations.

Oakland International Container Terminal assesses a $30 fee on all container loads to finance night operations. The fee is used primarily to cover labor costs. Said Kevin Bulger, Chief Operating Officer at Apex Maritime, one of the largest cargo shippers in Oakland: “It’s the best $30 I ever spent.”

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