Oakland’s largest terminal operator is struggling to find the right formula for its newly-mandated trucker appointment system.
Some truckers and beneficial cargo owners say conditions have improved, although others complain about rising demurrage costs owing to insufficient slots each day for making appointments.
Oakland International Container Terminal’s experience is a development that BCOs who ship through other seaports should follow closely because they will soon be grappling with the same problem.
Cargo volumes have increased to the point where the largest ports cannot handle their traffic in the traditional 40-hour work week. Terminals are responding by adding second shifts, but in order to manage traffic, terminal operators are pairing extended gates with controversial mandatory appointments to spread truck flow out evenly over 16 hours each day.
The problems in Oakland started this spring when the second-largest tenant, Outer Harbor Terminal, terminated its lease and declared bankruptcy. About 90 percent of its container volume migrated almost immediately to OICT. Ed DeNike, chief operating officer of SSA, which operates the terminal, said OICT now handles about 4,600 gate moves each daytime shift, and 1,200 trucks in the night shift. He said that is more truck traffic than any other terminal on the West Coast handles, including those in the much larger Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex.