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Terminal Congestion at West Coast Ports Continues

U.S. West Coast ports, specifically Los Angeles and Long Beach terminals, continue to experience heavy congestion due to the unprecedented volumes arriving in the U.S. in anticipation of the upcoming Lunar New Year and the pending tariff changes. Containers are sitting longer than normal, and once the containers are out-gated, many are staying out longer than normal. These delays are contributing to chassis shortages in the area.

Key contributing factors:

  • Port Delays: Because of the congestion and extra loaders calling Los Angeles / Long Beach, there have been labor shortages. The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) implemented work gang allocations. Vessels are waiting 2-3 shifts after arrival before receiving labor, and what is allocated is based on ship size. This process delays the cargo availability, extends the vessels at berth and causes bunching of vessels as they are delayed leaving the area.
  • Chassis Shortages: The chassis pools have increased, but the chassis supply cannot cover the increased imports. Importers keeping containers and chassis in their yards longer than average exacerbates the chassis shortages.
  • Import Container Dwell Times: As mentioned, importers are holding containers longer than average. Average on the street dwell time has increased to 7 days (an increase of 3 days over normal periods).
  • Terminal Congestion: As terminals try to manage with the increased volumes, they are having issues evacuating containers due to chassis issues. Congestion issues worsen as they start to face gridlock. Terminals are maxed out space-wise, and the normal flow of appointments is being interrupted as they simply have too much in certain areas of their yards to be able to work. Some terminals are refusing to accept empties from carriers while they try to dig out of the volumes they have on-dock. Overwhelmed terminals are beyond capacity and moving containers to undeliverable areas until they have space.
  • Truck Power: Due to the above, truckers are in high demand, which leads to difficulties when allocating drivers and getting containers out of terminals.
  • Rail: Railcar supply is also challenged, forcing terminals to change many destinations from on-dock to off-dock. These changes mean that containers need to be trucked out of the port, placing more pressure on trucker and chassis supply.

Additional notes:

  • The ocean carriers have advised that all charges incurred due to staying in the port too long or not being returned timely will be assessed to the account of the importer of record.
  • Carriers are urging customers to pick up their containers as soon as they become available and return them to the designated terminals as quickly as possible.
  • Ocean carriers and terminals advise this situation may continue until mid to late February.

MIQ will continue to monitor any service delays and/or routing changes that can impact transit times. We will provide updates as they are available.

For more information, please contact your local MIQ Logistics representative.