Expanded Hours at LA Ports Has Limited Effect on Supply Chain

Expanded Hours at LA Ports Has Limited Effect on Supply Chain
Delays in the transfer of cargo continue in Southern California as vessels line the horizon waiting offload containers into the Port of Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Jill McLaughlin

Opening the Southern California ports 24 hours a day, seven days a week has not helped to ease the supply chain crisis, some port officials and dock workers say.

In October 2021, a presidential task force asked the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to open around the clock to increase the hours and capacity that carriers and truckers could use to remove containers from the overloaded docks.

President Joe Biden estimated the expanded times would allow the Port of Los Angeles to move goods 25 percent faster at night.

While the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach ramped up multiple efforts to move cargo, including creating a program called Accelerate Cargo LA, the expanded hours have had minimal impact.

Port terminals have always operated about 18 hours a day, according to a Port of LA spokesman. The shifts are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.

The ports added a third shift, called a “hoot shift,” from 3:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., which has not been popular among truckers or cargo companies.

“Terminals are reporting that there is very little interest among truckers and cargo owners to come and pick up cargo during those hours,” Port of LA spokesman Phillip Sanfield told The Epoch Times in an email.

The Port of LA is still pushing to get cargo owners to operate during those hours, but to date, providing the extra hours has seen limited success, Sanfield said.

During the other 18 hours, about 40 percent of the available appointments for cargo pick up from the port are not used. The port is working with private stakeholders to maximize operations, Sanfield said.

At the same time, not many longshoremen want to work the extra shift from 3:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., according to one 26-year longshoreman.

“Nobody likes to work that shift,” a longshoreman named Steve, who declined to provide his last name, told The Epoch Times. “I don’t see anything going on at that time at all.”

The Port of Long Beach offers 24-hour service, four nights a week, the port’s spokesman told The Epoch Times.

One terminal is open around the clock and all container terminals have expanded hours, offering Friday night and weekend gates to handle the ongoing surge of cargo, Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson said.

“It’s just one step as we continue to advocate for our supply chain partners such as warehouses and retailers to also expand hours,” Peterson said.

The port has also opened a COVID-19 testing center for longshore workers and truck drivers and offers a texting service that alerts drivers about traffic conditions.

Long Beach also created temporary staging areas for full containers and encouraged truck drivers to drop off export containers when picking up imports.

The changes have not had a significant impact on the amount of cargo processed at the port, however.

At the Port of Long Beach, the number of containers processed each month remained steady, despite the expansion of hours.

For instance, in January 2021, Long Beach terminals processed about 364,000 inbound containers and 359,000 in December.

Long Beach serviced 62 fewer ships in 2021 compared to the year before but processed 16 percent more cargo.

Both ports reported a combined drop of 62 percent in containers that were stored for an extended time at the docks since October.

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.
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