Port of Oakland’s post-peak season promise

Time will soon tell if shippers will want to pay more for night gate terminal efficiencies

By ·

As noted in our recent reporting, San Pedro Bay ports are having a busy Peak Season. The same holds true for California’s third largest ocean cargo gateway – The Port of Oakland

Indeed, August was the busiest month in the port’s 91-year history, with a throughput of 85,166 loaded 20-foot import containers.

The August-through-October period is traditionally the highwater mark for container shipping. It’s the time of year when U.S. retailers stock shelves for holiday merchandising.

“We’re encouraged by the solid start to peak season, but there’s still uncertainty in the trade environment,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “Let’s see what the next few months bring.” 

Meanwhile, port authorities here are hardly becoming complacent. 

Another Port of Oakland marine terminal operator has announced that it’s opening night gates to accelerate containerized cargo flow. TraPac, Oakland’s second-largest terminal, plans to add a second shift for harbor truckers beginning October 15.

The move enables thousands of drivers to pick up or drop off Oakland containerized cargo from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., Monday-through-Thursday.  That would give freight haulers access to the terminal outside busier daytime hours. Port officials said night operations should accelerate cargo flow while reducing truck queues that sometimes build outside terminal gates.

TraPac becomes the second major marine terminal in Oakland to open at night for harbor truckers. Oakland International Container Terminal, the Port’s largest terminal, introduced night gates at the port two years ago. Together the terminals process about 80 percent of all containerized cargo in Oakland. 

The port said night operations would provide benefits across the supply chain, including:

  • Enhanced velocity for shippers;
  • Less downtime for drivers; and
  • Mitigation of marine terminal congestion.

TraPac said harbor drivers would be allowed to perform the range of cargo transactions at night. Those including picking up import containers or dropping off exports.

The terminal said it will assess a $30 fee on all loaded containers moving in or out of TraPac beginning October 29.  

According to spokesmen, the fee will cover night gate costs, principally for additional labor, the terminal “explained.”

They may have some additional “explaining” to do for shippers who may not welcome the cost add-ons, however. 

TraPac is in the middle of a two-year project to double the size of its Oakland operations. The terminal expects to conclude construction by year-end. 


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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