Truckers still delayed due to gate problems at Port of Houston

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 4/18/2013

Lines and delays for intermodal truckers are “just a way of life” in most cases. But for some truckers at the Port Authority of Houston, the opening of a new gate has left some drivers waiting in line. 

Submitted photo

Shutdown? Nope, it’s truckers in line at Port of Houston.

Yesterday, one trucker whose company regularly does business at the port said the wait for some was as much as eight hours. As of deadline time on Thursday, waiting had been reduced to two to five hours. In the past, average wait times at the port gates had been 30 minutes to one hour.

The trucker said the port’s new system “is just not working.”

“They’re having to do a lot of things manually,” the driver said. “Drivers and trucking companies are paid by the load. We’re making about one-tenth the money per day. … You go home, and instead of making $200 today you made $15. That’s the immediate pressure for the drivers, and they have to stick it out or they make zero.”

Bill Hensel, a spokesman with the Houston port authority, said  the port is improving its processing time for inbound and outbound vehicles.“

“We’re still not up to premium operating efficiency,” he said. “We’ve had some unexpected issues come up, but we’re working through them. By 2:30 (Wednesday), we’d handled more trucks than we had at the same time (Tuesday) evening.”

Hensel said at least one of the issues that has caused delays has been the transfer of data from the old system to the new system operating the truck gate.

“It’s a massive undertaking to open a new gate like this,” he said. “I know they were working (to process drivers through) until late Tuesday night, and I’m sure they’ll be working late tonight to get everyone handled if they can.”

Truckers with one carrier Land Line spoke to were receiving deliveries of Chik-fil-A sandwiches after waiting in lines for more than five hours on Wednesday.

“I’d like to see them work 24 hours a day, and we could spread the loads out,” the driver said. “Some drivers could go home and get some sleep during the day. I’d like to see them share some information. We’re not getting any info on their webpage as far as what’s going on. If they would just tell us what’s going on, there’s a great chance we could do something.”

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