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Port of Long Beach Mulls ‘Flexible Free Time’

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

November 23, 2015

Photo: Port of Long Beach

Photo: Port of Long Beach

Port of Long Beach officials will consider reducing the amount of time import containers can be stored on docks without charge, hoping the change would increase velocity of cargo moving out of the port.
Since 2005, the length of time containers can stay on the dock, called “free time,” has been four days. Beyond that, terminals are charged storage fees.
Now with larger vessels regularly calling on the port, terminals are seeing more containers, inhibiting workers’ ability to deliver containers quickly and efficiently.
Port officials are proposing changing free time to six shifts, the equivalent of as few as three days, to encourage terminals to more consistently operate at night, moving imports off the docks faster.
“When containers stack up in terminals, it leads to extra handling that makes the process slower for longshore workers, the shippers that depend on them, truckers who move the goods, and ultimately the consumer,” explained Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup. “This approach will keep the system more fluid and help avoid congestion.”
In the coming weeks, port staff will work with all stakeholders to develop a final plan that will be proposed to the Board of Harbor Commissioners for consideration.
“Truckers have told us their containers are not always accessible because of fewer evening shifts, and terminal operators want to clear space in their yards while giving their customers enough time to get their cargo,” said Port of Long Beach Chief Commercial Officer Dr. Noel Hacegaba. “Our idea, ‘flexible free time,’ is an innovative use of the tools we have to balance those needs.”

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