No single solution to the drayage problem in Vancouver: consultant

Avatar photo

MISSISSAUGA, Ont.–Scott Galloway, a transportation consultant and the West Coast representative for the Freight Management Association of Canada, gave a speech at the CILTNA GTA region chapter’s Mini Outlook Transportation Conference Tuesday, outlining the “pending challenges” at Port Metro Vancouver.

The current situation at Port Metro Vancouver “is a complex issue and a very dynamic situation. You could not have designed the current system to be more complex but it works every day,” said Galloway.

Looking at the drayage issue, it is all about sustainability, he said. The sector is highly competitive, with low barriers to entry, and highly fragmented.

“We need to take some lessons from the past,” said Galloway, citing the 2006 Task Force report which was drawn up after the last work disruption at the port in 2005, and on tthe 2014 Joint Action Plan concluded this summer.

Galloway spent several days this summer riding along with a local driver at the port, met with the local Unifor president, and consulted with the British Columbia Trucking Association and many other industry players.

“But these are my own conclusions,” Galloway said.

To demonstrate the importance of the trucking industry, it’s worth remembering the projections for 2014, he pointed out.

Port Metro Vancouver is expected to handle 2.9-3.0 million TEUs, of which truckers at the port will touch 1.3 million TEUs or 46% of those containers. Eventually, a truck driver will at some point handle all of that freight.

“Going back to the first port disruption of 1999, drivers had a point,” he said.

In the drayage sector there are surplus drivers vs. demand, there are increased costs for drivers, and empties storage has been moved off dock-since 1999.

“Trucks have to make that third move within the terminal to go pick up a chassis. Capacity exists but it’s expensive. Waterfront real estate is getting more expensive and since the 2005 disruption all terminals have changed hands. We also know that the terminal operators bought high,” he said.

“Another issue is that we have a provincially regulated industry operating on federal property,” he said.

Galloway does give credit to all levels of government in Canada on the Asia Pacific Gateway strategy and increased infrastructure investments in the area surrounding the port.

Despite this queueing delays, which were an issue and point of contention at the port in 1999 and 2005, continue to be an issue in 2014, and continue to affect driver compensation.

“Where are we now? We’ve actually become more complex, with financial penalties for wait times, and reservation systems still a struggle. Processing times are down, though, but it did come at a cost. We’ve gone from 1 to 2 shifts at the gate operations, but 2 does not equal 2. Even though they’ve doubled the gate operation hours the actual number of reservations is more like 1.2 times,” said Galloway.

He pointed out the similarities between solutions proposed in the 2006 Task Force report (enhance truck license system, extend gate hours, research and implement advanced technology, look at centralized reservation system, and ensure fair compensation to drivers), and the 2014 Joint Action plan: truck license reform, extend gate hours, implement GPS technology, enhance common reservation system, form steering committee. For now, stakeholders await Mediator Vince Ready’s official report which will be ready in early October.

“We’ve wasted 9 years. If we don’t learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it. There’s no single solution to the drayage problem in Vancouver. The winners will be those who seize opportunities,” he said.

But when supply chain stakeholders are making decisions, “I think we all have the responsibility to choose wisely. It hits on that whole theme of responsibility,” Galloway said.

Avatar photo

Julia Kuzeljevich is managing editor of Motortruck magazine, as well as sister publication Canadian Transportation & Logistics and With nearly seven years’ experience writing for the Canadian transportation industry, Julia specializes in human interest, in-depth news and business articles of interest to the trucking and logistics sectors. Julia has a degree in languages with a postgraduate specialization in journalism, and work experience in the air transportation industry.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.