New California port hours may not ease congestion

| 7/21/2005

New overnight hours and fee structures at the port complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach go into effect Saturday, July 23, but some critics fear that a shortage of drivers willing to work those hours may mean continued traffic problems for the ports.

The Los Angeles Business Journal reported that drivers are concerned about not making enough money to make it worth the trip into the complex at night. Some drivers said they are getting as little as $65 to $75 for a round trip from the ports to the downtown rail yards.

The Journal said that shipping traffic is already 26 percent higher than last year at the two ports and the summer shipping season has barely gotten started.

The off-peak shifts on the ports are from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. That’s in addition to the existing hours of 3 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The changes are part of an ongoing effort by the port complex to ease congestion during the ports’ peak hours of operation.

Registration began on May 23 for OffPeak, a program designed to reduce daytime trips to the ports by adding fees for drivers who enter the port during peak hours. The fees – which are set to begin later this summer – range from $40 per 20-foot equivalent unit to $80 for a 40-foot container.

Drivers wishing to use the port during peak hours – defined as weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. – must register with the OffPeak program. Pick-ups and deliveries outside of those hours will not be charged a fee.