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NY-NJ Container Terminals Hit by Chassis Shortage

Created by HButler on 7/16/2012 6:40:05 PM

The Port of New York and New Jersey is facing a shortage of chassis available for use in draying containers to and from the terminals.

The shortages are particularly severe at Maher Terminals in Port Elizabeth, N.J., and Global Terminal in Jersey City, truckers said. The New York Container Terminal on Staten Island has also seen shortages.

Maher Terminals, which has been particularly hard hit, sent a letter Tuesday to port truckers in the metropolitan region advising them of the shortage.

“We are still experiencing severe Metro chassis shortages; however, we are doing limited processing of drivers based upon chassis returns,” the letter said.

Maher’s letter encouraged drivers who have metro chassis in their possession to return them to its depot.

The shortages are due to the bunching of vessels arriving at terminals in New York Harbor because of the July 4 holiday and the start of the peak import season, said Jim Bowe, vice president of field sales and customer service for Trac Intermodal, which leases chassis to port truckers and operates a chassis pool in the harbor. “We’re clearly seeing some peaks in volumes and vessel bunching, which historically happens in July and August,” he said.

Trac has been providing many of the chassis used by port truckers in New York Harbor even since most ocean carriers began getting out of their long-standing practice of providing chassis as part of their service.

Truckers complained about the shortages at a meeting Tuesday of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers. “Trac kept saying they don’t have enough labor to fix them,” said Jeff Bader, president of the association. The International Longshoremen’s Association has jurisdiction over the repair of chassis used by harbor truckers.

“We are looking for more labor at the terminals to fix chassis,” Bowe said, explaining that when chassis are in short supply at one terminal Trac will steer truckers to another terminal where they are available. “If chassis are short at Terminal A, you can go down the street to Terminal B and we have equipment available, so I wouldn’t categorize this as a chassis shortage.”

Nevertheless port truckers are encountering delays caused by the lack of available chassis at some terminals, which are limiting the number of truck turns they can make in a day, and thus the amount of money they can earn.

“This is causing false pickups and drivers sitting at the piers for hours waiting for chassis to come in and out,” said Bader. “The purpose of a poll is to increase productivity; what we are seeing is a decrease in productivity. You’ve got demurrage issues, free-time issues and everything that goes along with that.”

- Peter T. Leach, The Journal of Commerce.

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