Gino DiCaro

Truck waiting times could increase costs

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, July 8, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

This year, Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) introduced SB 1829, Marine Terminal Air Emissions. The bill would require each marine terminal to operate in a manner that does not cause trucks to idle or queue for more than 30 minutes per transaction, from the first point of entry into the terminal until it passes through the exit gate. A violation would be subject to a $250 fine. Any owner or operator of a marine terminal or port, who acts to circumvent these requirements would be subject to a $750 fine.

The sponsor of the bill, the California Trucking Association, obviously would like to see faster driver turnarounds with the added benefit of reduced diesel emissions. However, the problem with this bill is that there are a large number of variables that are outside the control of the marine terminal or port to control. For example, the bill does not take into consideration driver induced time delays such as lunch, restroom stops, paperwork problems, etc.

Even the best operating terminal in California only averages 30 minutes per turnaround, which means that half of their transactions are over 30 minutes. The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles combined are significantly larger than the most efficient port with a great deal more activity. These two ports handled 7.75 million forty-ton equivalent transactions in 2005. Even if they were able to operate at an average rate of 30 minutes per transaction (and the number is actually closer to an hour), they would be paying a fine of close to one billion dollars/year.

Undoubtedly such cost would eventually be reflected in the cost of transporting goods through those ports and will ultimately fall on consumers. Another result could be the movement of shipments in and out of the country to non-California ports.

The ports already have every incentive to operate as efficiently as possible. Increased automation is the only real solution, but the ports have limited flexibility under union contracts and work rules.

This bill passed the full Senate and the Assembly Transportation Committee. It will be heard in Assembly Appropriations on August 9th. CMTA is a member of the CalTrade coalition which has been opposing this bill since introduction.

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