October 5, 2014
An industry committee hopes to agree by mid-2015 on a plan for interchangeable “gray” chassis in the Port of New York and New Jersey, a port authority official said.
Beth Rooney, the port authority’s assistant director for port performance initiatives, offered no details, but said the chassis committee of the recently formed Council on Port Performance has been meeting biweekly on the issue.
“They anticipate they will be able to move forward with a plan for a gray chassis pool within the first half of 2015,” Rooney told the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers, which represents drayage operators in the port.
Chassis shortages and dislocations are a top contributor to congestion and delays at ports such as New York-New Jersey and the busiest U.S. container gateway, Los Angeles-Long Beach.
During the last five years, most container lines have quit providing free chassis as part of a bundled service – a practice that was unique to the U.S. – and have transferred their fleets to leasing companies. Truckers say they often can’t find usable chassis when and where they’re needed.
New York-New Jersey has three competing pools operated by the major leasing companies, TRAC Intermodal, Direct ChassisLink, and Flexi-Van Leasing.
The pools don’t allow free interchange of equipment. Truckers often must waste time on unproductive trips to switch chassis between pickups and deliveries. In addition, the system aggravates repair backlogs by creating mismatches between locations of chassis and mechanics.
An interchangeable “gray” chassis fleet was at the top of a list of 23 recommendations by an industrywide task force organized to find solutions to gridlock that has plagued the New York-New Jersey port during the last two years. The Council on Port Performance has been working since June to implement those recommendations.
Proposals being discussed include a portwide “market pool” with a hired manager, and a “pool of pools” that would allow competing pools to exchange equipment. Pools managed by DCLI and Flexi-Van are moving to implement the latter approach in Los Angeles-Long Beach.
John Nardi, president of the New York Shipping Association and co-chairman of the Council on Port Performance, said this month that the council’s equipment committee was “very close” to deciding what path to take toward portwide gray chassis.
While wrestling with chassis and other contentious issues such as a truck management system for terminals, council committees have been moving to implement many of the task force’s second- and third-level recommendations, Rooney said.
One of those recommendations was for a guide to port facilities, which Rooney said could be issued by the end of the year or early next year. The guide would provide drayage drivers with maps, traffic flows, terminal rules and other information that now is communicated largely by word of mouth.
The plan is to issue the guide in paper and electronic form that can be continually updated and will be easy for drivers to access. Rooney said it initially will be published in English but will be translated into Spanish, which is many drivers’ first language, and possibly Polish.