Extended gate times key to reducing truck turns at ports

NEWARK, NJ – Extended gate times were critical in helping Port Metro Vancouver recover from a month-long trucker strike earlier this year.

Eric Waltz, president of GCT Canada, which operates Vancouver’s largest container terminal, said the program of extended gates coupled with an effective appointment system were the two major reasons for the faster turn times.

“Improvement came from spreading out the cargo,” Waltz told the recent Journal of Commerce (JOC) Port Performance Conference-North America in Newark, N.J.

According to a JOC article, opening port gates at night and on weekends to spread out traffic is the main ingredient in a strategy to improve truck turn times at ports on the West Coast of North America.

In the case of Port Metro Vancouver, a government-sponsored solution  included extended gates, appointments, a truck licensing system, government-imposed minimum wages for drivers, and penalties for terminals with excessive wait times as well as for truckers who fail to keep their appointments.

The 14-point action plan developed by Port Metro Vancouver and the provincial and federal governments was imposed on the terminal operators, Waltz said.

If the terminals had their choice, they probably wouldn’t have advised a system of penalties for wait times of longer than 90 minutes, but the system has been “workable” since it was implemented in April, he said.

Other west coast ports are relying more and more on extended gate times.

Los Angeles-Long Beach has implemented four weeknight gates and a Saturday day gate since 2005 to battle port congestion and long truck turn times.

The port at Oakland is also considering late gates.


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