More cargo coming; it’s time to prepare
November 5, 2014
Port of Oakland outlook: more cargo coming; it’s time to prepare
Importers, exporters list needs at seaport customer forum
Oakland, CA – Nov. 6, 2014 – The Port of Oakland is positioned to increase its cargo volume in California’s turbulent container shipping market. But there’s more to do to ensure that the nation’s fifth-busiest seaport can handle the load.
That was the message from major U.S. importers and exporters this week at a two-day customer forum. Shippers from Safeway to Tesla Motors urged the Port to prepare by optimizing cargo movement and minimizing bottlenecks.
“The Port of Oakland is in a very strong position to handle additional cargo, but the port will need to increase hours of operation with additional gates,” said Joel McClure, Director of International Logistics Import/Export Compliance at Restoration Hardware.
Ten leading brands in retailing, manufacturing and freight forwarding took part in the forum designed to gauge customer attitudes and solicit feedback on ways to make the Port more efficient. They applauded efforts to improve cargo throughput at Oakland marine terminals, but asked terminal operators for more help to ensure smoother movement of imports out of the Port to warehouses or store loading docks.
The discourse is important as the Port of Oakland gears up for a likely increase in containerized cargo. The Port said its September cargo handling volume was the highest in more than a year. The numbers will stay high as shippers divert cargo north to avoid severely congested Southern California ports. Oakland terminal operators said they’re handling hundreds of additional containers weekly originally intended for Los Angeles or Long Beach.
One Port executive said an Asian-based container shipping line will divert one of its vessels next week with Oakland as a first port of call replacing Los Angeles. That means the vessel will make Oakland its first West Coast stop for discharge of imports from Asia.
Shippers expressed their approval of first-call service in Oakland. It would assure faster delivery of cargo intended for Northern California as well as cargo moving to inland destinations.
But they also asked for help with bottlenecks that include:
- A need for quicker trucker turn-times in and out of the marine terminals;
- Limited hours of operation at marine terminals.
The Port said it is advancing on both fronts. Terminal operators indicated that trucker waiting time has improved in the last half of 2014. Some facilities have introduced nighttime truck gates and extended hours of operation. At least two have adopted express lanes that get imports out the door in as little as 15 minutes.
“We’re making progress,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle. “We want to help you and encourage more cargo through the Port."
Port officials said Oakland does not have the level of congestion currently delaying cargo in Southern California. They said there is available capacity bolstered by the addition of new cargo handling equipment. There’s also a satisfactory supply of chassis, the trailers truckers use to haul containers.
Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll told shippers: “We see significant improvements every day as we move to provide our customers the value and efficiency that they looking for.”
About the Port of Oakland
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport and Oakland International Airport. The Port's jurisdiction includes 20 miles of waterfront from the Bay Bridge through Oakland International Airport. The Oakland seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S.; Oakland International Airport is the second largest San Francisco Bay Area airport offering over 300 daily passenger and cargo flights; and the Port’s real estate includes commercial developments such as Jack London Square and hundreds of acres of public parks and conservation areas. Together, through Port operations and those of its tenants and users, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. The Port of Oakland was established in 1927 and is an independent department of the City of Oakland. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at www.portofoakland.com.
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