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Aug 17, 2017

Air getting cleaner at Los Angeles, Long Beach ports, reports show

Online edition.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reduced pollution while moving more cargo last year, according to new reports released this week.

The annual pollution scorecard shows the ports continue to make steady progress in clearing up the air around the nation’s busiest seaport and largest stationary polluter in the region, but it’s proving harder to make significant cuts in some areas.

“As emissions decline and cargo throughput rises, chipping away at what’s left gets tougher,” said Chris Cannon, director of environmental management at the Los Angeles port.

Since 2005, when the ports first began tracking pollution, diesel particulate matter emissions linked to asthma and other respiratory ailments dropped 87 percent in Los Angeles. Another harmful emission, sulfur oxides, has fallen 98 percent, and smog-forming nitrogen oxide declined 57 percent.

The Port of Long Beach posted similar findings.

Reasons for emissions cuts

Emissions have come down for several reasons, including less diesel-burning equipment along the docks, a program to reduce vessel speed and more cargo ships turning off their engines while at shore and plugging in to electrical sources. Officials also have been stressing greater efficiencies that conserve energy and burn less polluting fuel.

At the Port of Los Angeles, there’s an effort to digitize cargo data and place container boxes in off-site yards. Combined, the two create shorter wait times for truckers who would otherwise be idling, leaving their exhaust pipes to spew fumes.

But even as this year brought dramatic reductions of pollutants across the board there, carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change, actually has increased since 2010.

‘Challenge moving forward’

“That will be the biggest challenge moving forward,” Cannon said.

In 2015, both ports saw spikes in their pollution levels after a labor crisis backed up ships and left trucks idling.

The latest data from 2016 comes as officials at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports prepare to update a more than decade-old clean air plan.

Mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach have said they want to see the port complex become a zero-emission zone by 2035, but the ports estimate it will cost as much as $14 billion to achieve that.

Much of those funds would be used to replace diesel-guzzling big rigs and dock equipment.

Last year at the Port of Los Angeles, 95 percent of all the trucks entering the docks were fueled by diesel. And about two-thirds of all vehicles used to handle cargo along the terminals ran on the fuel, which emits some of the most unhealthy pollutants. Only about 7 percent of the equipment is electric run, with zero emissions.

Environmentalists want electric

Environmentalists want to see nothing but electric vehicles used along the docks.

“This report continues to highlight the severity of air pollution coming from ports,” said Adrian Martinez, a lawyer at Earthjustice, a pro-environmental group. “When you look at how many of the vehicles run on combustible fuels, it really demonstrates the need to fulfill the mayors’ vision of getting true zero-emission.”

John McLaurin, head of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, a group representing marine terminal operators and shipping lines, sees it another way.

He called the clean air plan’s estimate “mind-boggling” and pointed to the strides made this year as evidence that reductions in pollution can be made without such a heavy investment.

“Reductions will continue in the future, but additional air quality improvements must balance cost with effectiveness to preserve the 1-in-9 jobs in the Southern California area that are dependent on a competitive port,” he said.

Online edition.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reduced pollution while moving more cargo last year, according to new reports released this week.

The annual pollution scorecard shows the ports continue to make steady progress in clearing up the air around the nation’s busiest seaport and largest stationary polluter in the region, but it’s proving harder to make significant cuts in some areas.

Oct 18, 2017

Meet the V8070: New electric truck doesn’t pollute, a first of many from Playa Vista company

Online edition.

It may look like a truck but it doesn’t pollute like a truck.

Built by Chanje Energy Inc., the medium-duty, all-electric truck unveiled Wednesday at a hangar at Fullerton Airport can haul 6,000 pounds of cargo and travel 100 miles on a single charge with zero tailpipe emissions.

It’s the first battery-electric truck built from the ground up aimed at the so-called “last mile” route of commercial delivery. The company is targeting the explosion of online shopping that has driven up delivery by Fed-Ex, UPS, Amazon and others.

“If we are successful deploying this asset, we will change the energy of a community, ultimately of the world, by taking tailpipes out of the urban market where it matters most,” said Bryan Hansel, CEO of Chanje.

Headquartered in Playa Vista, Chanje is only 2-1/12 years old but already has moved beyond the prototype stage. The V8070, an oversized van with an electric drive train powered by 70 kilowatts of batteries capable of 198 horsepower per kW is available for sale today.

The company’s factory in Han Jiao, China, can produce 100,000 units a year, he said. Chanje will open at least one or more assembly plants in the United States, each capable of 10,000 trucks per year, he said.

“If you need 1,000 trucks, let’s sit down and have a chat,” he said during an interview before the event. Hansel, who said he’s not ruling out Southern California sites, said by early next year new trucks will be rolling off the assembly lines.

Chanje received a boost from Ryder, a national commercial trucking company that rents trucks and vans to commercial users such as food and beverage companies, dry cleaners and the like, by placing an order. But the company would not reveal how many trucks it has purchased.

In addition, Ryder has partnered with Chanje to help sell the trucks and provide maintenance and charging stations at its facilities across the U.S.

Hansel said the total cost over five to seven years is the same as a diesel or gasoline powered truck. The electric Chanje truck also has fewer moving parts, reducing maintenance costs by 70 percent, according to the company.

“Pricing has not been announced yet,” said Stacy Morris, Chanje spokeswoman in an email.

All the medium-sized trucks are responsible for 18 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions from transportation nationwide. Besides cutting GHGs that add to climate change, Ryder says electric delivery trucks will improve air quality in urban areas by reducing smog-forming emissions.

“There is no such vehicle around like it,” began Chris Nordh, director of global field products for Ryder. “This vehicle has the durability of a van, a cargo capacity of a box truck and the emissions profile of a bicycle,” he said Wednesday.

More than 40 percent of containerized goods imported from Asia flow through the twin ports of LA and Long Beach. And the amount of cargo is expected to double by 2035, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The ports are working on electrifying the movement of containers, but most of the pollution comes from diesel trucks moving out from the ports to points east.

Heavy-duty trucks are the No. 1 source of all smog-forming emissions in Southern California. The state’s 1 million diesel trucks account for 2.3 percent of the vehicles on the road – 56 percent of the smog-forming nitrogen oxides from motor vehicles and 66 percent of the diesel soot.

Southern California is classified by the federal government as an “extreme non-attainment area” for ozone pollution, a caustic gas that causes premature lung aging, asthma and other breathing issues after longer exposures, wheezing and shortness of breath after acute exposures. The region has until 2037 to clean up ozone pollution, though an official deadline hasn’t been set, according to the AQMD.

Ozone, a major component of LA smog, is formed in the atmosphere when nitrogen oxides (NOx) from trucks, cars and other combustion sources combine with volatile organic compounds from coatings and factories and are cooked by sunlight in the lower atmosphere.

Heavy-duty trucks account for 33 percent of all NOx pollution in California. The other pollutant from diesel-powered trucks is particulates. In Southern California, the number of particulate matter-related premature deaths from all sources stands at 7,300 per year, adding up to about $65 billion in costs, according to health experts.

This year, Southern California experienced 132 days above the 8-hour ozone standard, up from last year, according to the AQMD.

Online edition.

It may look like a truck but it doesn’t pollute like a truck.

Built by Chanje Energy Inc., the medium-duty, all-electric truck unveiled Wednesday at a hangar at Fullerton Airport can haul 6,000 pounds of cargo and travel 100 miles on a single charge with zero tailpipe emissions.

It’s the first battery-electric truck built from the ground up aimed at the so-called “last mile” route of commercial delivery. The company is targeting the explosion of online shopping that has driven up delivery by Fed-Ex, UPS, Amazon and others.

Feb 28, 2018

Metro to decide on 710 Freeway widening in Long Beach

Online edition.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to upgrade the heavily-congested 710 Freeway from Long Beach to East Los Angeles may take a significant step forward Wednesday, but with the key caveat that any widening of the freeway would not be allowed until after a decade or so’s worth of other improvements are accomplished.

Officials asking for the delay, who include Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, three Los Angeles County supervisors and officials representing Glendale and Inglewood, want to reduce or eliminate any construction activities that may force out people living near the freeway’s path.

Those officials sit on the 14-member board that sets policy for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, also known as Metro. Their plan, however, may not be enough to sway the minds of people who are opposed to the freeway project in its proposed form.

“We want a project, when it’s approved, that does not displace homes and businesses,” said Jorge Rivera of Long Beach Residents Empowered, among the local groups advocating for project changes.

Opponents also want zero-emission vehicle mandates and a local hiring program, he said.

The project’s revised environmental impact report shows construction may displace nearly 440 people and about 160 businesses.

The Metro board will meet Thursday morning to decide whether to support future environmental review of prospective 710 Freeway improvements around a set of proposals known as “Alternative 5C.” Those plans, estimated to cost $6 billion, involve proposed construction truck bypass lanes near the 710’s junction with the 405 Freeway in Long Beach, widening of the freeway in Long Beach and at points north, as well as other work including improvements to on- and off-ramps.

The new idea favored by several Metro board members would, assuming ultimate approval of Alternative 5C, clear the way for an “early action program” with improvements to on- and off-ramps and other upgrades along the lines of bicycle lanes, street improvements and work that may benefit pedestrians.

On the other hand, Metro would not be able to press forward with any widening of the 710 freeway pending completion of the early action program, additional environmental analysis and attempts to reduce the number of people who may be displaced if the 710 Freeway is widened to take up more space. Metro’s board would be required to take a future vote to approve any work conducted after the early action program’s tasks are accomplished.

The added requests also call for union-friendly project labor agreements to accompany early action projects.

Michael Kapp, spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro board member Hilda Solis said the plan is an attempt to balance a need to improve unsustainable conditions on the 710 with public demands. Accomplishing the early action program may require 10 to 15 years of work before any widening can take place.

In addition to the proposal to delay of any widening of the 710 Freeway, Metro board members are also scheduled consider a proposal from Supervisor and Metro board member Janice Hahn to increase project funding for supporting zero-emissions technology from $100 million to $200 million. If approved, that money could be used for such expenditures as subsidies for electric trucks or installing equipment within the freeway itself to recharge electric vehicles in motion.

Thursday’s decision will not be final. It’s up to Caltrans leadership to certify the final environmental impact report necessary for freeway work to proceed.

Metro’s board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. at One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles.

Online edition.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to upgrade the heavily-congested 710 Freeway from Long Beach to East Los Angeles may take a significant step forward Wednesday, but with the key caveat that any widening of the freeway would not be allowed until after a decade or so’s worth of other improvements are accomplished.

Mar 12, 2018

Print Metro board will vote on expanding the 710 Wider 710 would displace hundreds

Online Edition

For decades, the 710 Freeway has been the commercial spine of Southern California, funneling the trucks carrying thousands of tons of furniture, clothes, televisions and other goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach into the region’s sprawling network of freeways and warehouses.

But the steady stream of freight traffic on the 710, driven by the country’s growing appetite for imported goods and two-day shipping, has taken its toll. The pavement is cracked, bottlenecks are common, and the share of trucks on the freeway is three times higher than engineers in the 1960s expected.

Transportation officials have clashed for decades with local and environmental advocates over how to untangle traffic and speed the movement of goods along the 710 without further harming the surrounding neighborhoods that are in what’s known as “the diesel death zone.”

After all that debate, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a chance this week to make a decision. At a downtown board meeting Thursday, the agency’s directors will consider two alternatives to widen the 710, both of which would require evicting hundreds of residents and business owners to make room for new freeway lanes.

Along a corridor that generates so much commerce and pollution, any decision will be controversial.

Attempting to stave off that backlash, a coalition of Metro directors says it will propose a compromise that would greenlight some improvements, including longer ramps and new interchanges, but delay a decision on the widening.

Before any major construction could begin, Caltrans and Metro need to close a shortfall of at least $5 billion. Choosing an alternative will help the agencies identify more state and federal funding, officials said.

Both alternatives call for lanes reserved for zero-emission or low-emission trucks. The route, if built, would represent the first leg of a green freight network, possibly including tolls, that planners have envisioned for more than two decades.

The $6-billion alternative backed by Metro staff members would add a lane for zero-emission trucks between Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach and the 60 Freeway in East Los Angeles, and lanes that would allow truckers to bypass traffic backups near the 405 Freeway. The plan would update ramps at 24 streets and rebuild interchanges with the 91, 5 and 405 freeways.

The $10-billion alternative calls for four elevated truck-only lanes parallel to the 710, in addition to similar interchange and ramp improvements.

The amendment introduced this week would require Metro and Caltrans to finish interchange, intersection and ramp improvements along the 710 before seeking approval of the wider route. Depending on funding and construction progress, that could be at least a decade away.

The proposal would also require Metro to further reduce or eliminate the planned displacement of up to 560 residents and business owners along the corridor. More than 90% of the 710 changes can be completed in the existing right-of-way without using eminent domain, the directors said.

The motion would provide grants and other financial incentives for trucking companies to adopt zero-emission engines. It would also urge the use of more rail, particularly “on-dock rail,” which allows the ports to transfer cargo directly from ships to trains. The process can eliminate 750 truck trips for each full train, port estimates show.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and other officials have urged a financial model that would push shipping companies toward rail — particularly the nearby Alameda Corridor, a rail expressway from the ports to rail yards near downtown that has unused cargo capacity.

“If we’re going to do financial incentives as it relates to zero emissions, we need to look at financial incentives for rail,” Barger said at a recent Metro meeting.

But loading cargo onto trains, and paying the per-container fee on the Ala-meda Corridor, makes financial sense only for companies that are sending their goods to another state, said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, a regional planning agency.

Trains do not head north up the corridor until they’re fully loaded, a process that can take hours.

About 37% of cargo entering the ports stays in Southern California, either to be consumed here, or sent to local warehouses to be unpacked, sorted, repacked and sent out on trucks. As more customers expect two-day delivery for online purchases, that form of delivery will only become more dominant, he said.

“For short distances, trucks are the cheapest and the most economic mode there is,” Ikhrata said. “To expect Alameda Corridor to do more than it’s doing now is not going to work.”

Highway officials began to study the problems of the 710 more than two decades ago. In 2003, as cities along the route asked for a fix to their traffic problems, and as officials studied options, advocates learned that up to 1,000 homes and businesses could be demolished to make way for extra freeway lanes.

The resulting outcry put the project on pause — but only temporarily.

The idea returned several years later, only to be stymied by a funding shortfall and the worst economic recession since World War II. The project eventually secured enough funding for environmental reviews, guaranteed through two half-cent sales taxes that Los Angeles County voters approved in 2008 and 2016.

Caltrans and Metro officials eventually reduced by half the number of people who would lose their homes and businesses. They now estimate that the $6-billion project would displace 436 people and the $10-billion option would displace 484 people.

“When I saw those numbers, I thought, ‘Oh no, not this again,’ ” said Alan Hose, a Long Beach resident who served on a 710 advisory committee in 2004. The group of concerned residents, environmentalists and others had pushed Caltrans and Metro to design the freeway without displacing anyone. Officials say that is impossible.

Still, the number of people who would be forced to move remains a sticking point on the project. Immigrants living in the country illegally would not be eligible for federal relocation benefits, advocates said.

At a recent Metro meeting, Los Angeles City Councilman and Metro director Mike Bonin described the figures as “scary high.” Evictions could permanently alter the rhythm of life for communities near the freeway, he said, as they did for neighborhoods near Los Angeles International Airport.

“I can still see people talking about the homes taken away to accommodate LAX expansion decades ago,” Bonin said. “Folks still talk about the folks who lost their homes in Chavez Ravine. It haunts and scars an area for a long time.”

Advocates for the southern half of the 710 have said that they feel they’ve been treated differently from the preservation and environmental advocates who battled a proposed 4.5-mile extension of the northern half of the 710.

The northern project would have redirected the hundreds of trucks that spill onto surface streets in Alhambra at the freeway’s abrupt ending, but would have required building through, or tunneling under, hundreds of single-family homes in El Sereno, Pasadena and South Pasadena.

The ugly, decades-long fight ended last year when Metro dropped its support for the project, agreed not to fund any major construction on it, and redirected the funds to local street improvements.

“This is not the kind of response that happened when the folks up in South Pasadena had questions about freeway development — a radically different neighborhood,” said Long Beach resident Leanne Noble at a Metro meeting last month. “Our neighborhoods also have the right to stability and to health.”

Online Edition

For decades, the 710 Freeway has been the commercial spine of Southern California, funneling the trucks carrying thousands of tons of furniture, clothes, televisions and other goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach into the region’s sprawling network of freeways and warehouses.

Mar 06, 2017

IBM, Maersk in Blockchain Tie-up for Shipping Industry

Online Edition

IBM and Danish transport company Maersk said they were working together to digitize, manage, and track shipping transactions using blockchain technology.

The technology, which powers the digital currency bitcoin, enables data sharing across a network of individual computers. It has gained worldwide popularity due to its usefulness in recording and keeping track of assets or transactions across all industries.

The blockchain solution being built by the two companies is expected to be made available to the ocean shipping industry later this year, according to a joint statement from International Business Machines Corp and the container unit of A.P. Moller-Maersk. It would help manage and track the paper trail of tens of millions of shipping containers globally by digitizing the supply chain process from end to end.

This will enhance transparency and make the sharing of information among trading partners more secure.

When adopted at scale, the solution based on the Linux Foundation's open source Hyperledger platform has the potential to save the industry billions of dollars, the companies said.

"Working closely with Maersk for years, we've long understood the challenges facing the supply chain and logistics industry and quickly recognized the opportunity for blockchain to provide massive savings when used broadly across the ocean shipping industry ecosystem," said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, industry platforms, at IBM.

IBM and Maersk intend to work with a network of shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, ports and customs authorities to build the new global trade digitization product, the companies said.

The product is also designed to help reduce or eliminate fraud and errors and minimize the time products spend in the transit and shipping process.

For instance, Maersk found that in 2014, just a simple shipment of refrigerated goods from East Africa to Europe can go through nearly 30 people and organizations, including more than 200 different communications among them.

The new blockchain solution would enable the real-time exchange of original supply chain transactions and documents through a digital infrastructure that connects the participants within the network, according to IBM and Maersk.

Online Edition

IBM and Danish transport company Maersk said they were working together to digitize, manage, and track shipping transactions using blockchain technology.

The technology, which powers the digital currency bitcoin, enables data sharing across a network of individual computers. It has gained worldwide popularity due to its usefulness in recording and keeping track of assets or transactions across all industries.

Mar 07, 2018

Self-driving trucks are on the road in Arizona - Uber has used them for deliveries since Nov

Printed edition

San Francisco – Uber has been sending self-driving trucks on delivery runs across Arizona since November, the first step in what promises to be a freight transportation revolution that could radically reshape the jobs of long-haul truckers.

After testing its technology earlier in 2017, Uber began contracting with trucking companies to use its own autonomous Volvo big rigs to take over loads as they traverse the state, it disclosed.

In Uber’s current program, a trucker meets the self-driving truck at the Arizona state border, which then takes the load across the state before handing it off to second conventional trucker for the short-haul trip. During the autonomous trip, an Uber employee rides in driver seat of the autonomous truck to monitor – but not to drive.

If one day both the technology and regulations play out in favor of self-driving trucks, two scenarios emerge.

The first would find self-driving trucks handling long-haul highway legs with no one at the wheel as they meet up with conventional truckers, who then drive the deliveries into city centers. The other possibility is Uber could sell its technology to trucking owner-operators, who then use it to sleep while the truck handles the bulk of long distance driving.

Truckers make their money only when their rigs are on the road. They are also limited by law in terms of how much time they can spend behind the wheel, something a self-driving truck could impact positively. It could also introduce more round-trip hauls that find driver back home at the end of the day’s journey.

“The big step for us recently is that we can plan to haul goods in both directions, using Uber Freight to coordinate load pickups and drop-offs with local truckers,” said Alden Woodrow, who leads Uber’s self-driving truck effort. “Keeping trucking local allows these drivers to make money while staying closer to home.”

Uber Freight, which launched last May, is an app that matches shippers with loads using technology drawn from Uber’s ride-hailing app. Typically such trucking logistics have been coordinated through phone calls and emails.

The San Francisco-based company isn’t alone in its pursuit of self-driving truck technology, with start-ups such as Embark joining companies such as Tesla and its new Tesla semi to carve out a slice of a $700 billion industry that moves 70% of domestic freight, according to the American Trucking Association.

Despite the push, the technology behind self-driving trucks remains in its infancy, with hurdles that include government regulations and trucker buy-in. a truck that makes the long hauls between exits, allowing a driver to sleep in the cab, could increase their profit. But they’d have to trust the technology, as well as fork over what promises to be a considerable investment to make their cabs autonomous.

Printed edition

San Francisco – Uber has been sending self-driving trucks on delivery runs across Arizona since November, the first step in what promises to be a freight transportation revolution that could radically reshape the jobs of long-haul truckers.

After testing its technology earlier in 2017, Uber began contracting with trucking companies to use its own autonomous Volvo big rigs to take over loads as they traverse the state, it disclosed.

Feb 22, 2018

Chicago intermodal rail delays ‘unprecedented’ since January

Online edition.

Major delays are plaguing shippers and logistics providers in Chicago because of a perfect storm of winter weather, intermodal rail yards, chassis shortages, and tighter truck capacity exacerbated by the electronics logging device (ELD) mandate.

Although not limited to Chicago, the top US freight hub has been cited for the most severe gridlock and so much drayage that some motor carriers will not accept new customers until April.

Multiple trucking executives told JOC.com that they are charging accessorial fees on some hauls and imposing $75 to $150 detention penalties after one hour sitting at an intermodal rail yard.

“This is most prolonged and sustained period of tightness in Chicago that I’ve ever seen, it’s unprecedented. But I think it may be the new normal.” Said Phil Shook, director of intermodal at C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.

“It is about as bad as we’ve ever seen it historically, outside of weather emergencies like blizzards,” said Clint Dvorak, managing director, Global North America at MIQ Logistics, which recently issued an alert to shippers about the delays.

Jason Hilsenbeck, president of Drayage.com, said that clicks on his website from Chicago metropolitan area have surged since the beginning of the year. Over the last 60 days, his intermodal directory website generated more than 90,000 clicks. Per day, the average hovers between 2,000 and 3,000, indicating a significant interest to search his online directory of drayage providers serving Chicago.

“When we had the labor problems in Los Angeles and Long Beach a few years ago, we started to hit 70,000 or 80,000 clicks over 60 days, but I’ve seen this in Chicago after blizzards,” Hilsenbeck said.

Trucking and logistics executives have expressed frustration at intermodal rail yard operations since the beginning of the year, worried the slowdown will further alienate the driver pool.

Canadian National Railway in Harvey, Illinois, and Union Pacific Railroad’s four Chicago-area terminals, to a lesser extent, were identified as having multi-hour turn times in some cases, according to the sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In a statement, CN blamed the delays on the weather, driver shortages, and ELDs.

“We continue to work with our supply chain partners to manage traffic flows and alleviate the delays. We are working to secure more driver power in the Chicago area to increase terminal fluidity and have encouraged carters to schedule appointments at off hours such as nights and weekends,” the railway wrote.

UP said a broken wheel on a train temporarily caused bottlenecks through Chicago but the situation has since been resolved.

These delays are happening as truckers contemplate whether to leave the industry ahead of the hard enforcement date of ELDs on April 1. Owner-operators fed up with the Chicago dray market may consider this the right time for a change.

“I would say 50 percent of the drivers or more are considering flipping to [over-the-road] to avoid the ramps. Owner-operators just get fed up and no longer want to do rail freight because of the time wasted at ramps. It’s a vicious circle,” said Susan Keldani, vice president of On Track Transportation in Illinois.

“You spend three hours getting the chassis and the container and when you terminate it’s another two hours. It’s leaving very little time for drivers,” added Kevin Lhotak, president of Reliable Transportation.

That is when there are even chassis available to take the container, which is not a certainty right now.

Tracy Davis, president of Acme Transportation Company, said truckers often arrive at rail yards only to discover no available chassis or a small number of defective units.

“There may be 10 chassis one day but when you go to pick it up and the person says it’s reserved or the chassis are red-tagged and cannot go out on the road,” Davis said.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. sent a warning notice in early February to customers urging customers to promptly return equipment to alleviate the shortage.

“If there is not a drastic decrease in long dwelling equipment on the street in the coming days, we will have no choice but to enforce a ‘No Chassis in, No Chassis out’ policy at the rails and CYs [container yards] in order to release any more equipment for loading,” the notice said.

Consolidated Chassis Management pegged the utilization rate at 63 percent for the Chicago-Ohio Valley Consolidated Chassis Pool, including an ample supply near the CN Harvey terminal.

TRAC Intermodal and Direct ChassisLink Inc. were not available for comment.

Online edition.

Major delays are plaguing shippers and logistics providers in Chicago because of a perfect storm of winter weather, intermodal rail yards, chassis shortages, and tighter truck capacity exacerbated by the electronics logging device (ELD) mandate.

Although not limited to Chicago, the top US freight hub has been cited for the most severe gridlock and so much drayage that some motor carriers will not accept new customers until April.

Feb 26, 2018

Port truck drivers file new class-action lawsuit alleging wage theft, misclassification

Online edition.

Three Southern California port truck drivers filed a class action lawsuit Monday against a prominent logistics company accusing their management of routinely denying workers owed wages and flouting state labor laws.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, represents about 160 workers at XPO Logistics Cartage LLC with offices in Commerce and San Diego. It’s the latest effort to push back on a common industry practice of contracting with big rig drivers instead of hiring them as employees, which allows companies to forgo payroll taxes and other worker protections.

Despite working five days a week, sometimes 14 hours a day, “it’s not uncommon for these drivers to take home $100 a week,” said Julie Gutman Dickinson, a lawyer representing drivers in the lawsuit filed Monday. Worse, she said workers are at times left in debt at the end of the pay period, “keeping them in indentured servitude.”

A spokesperson for the company said it had yet to receive the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges the company, a subsidiary of Connecticut-based XPO Logistics, routinely denied workers hourly wages even though the company treated the drivers like regular employees. Under the independent contractor model, employees are paid by the load, but must pay operational expenses including the use of tablet computers necessary to provide information about the hauls.

The fast-growing company, valued by investors at $11.89 billion, has been criticized by the Teamsters union. Last year union drivers staged a protest outside of an annual shipping conference in Long Beach, where the company’s CEO Bradley Jacobs suggested their jobs will soon be replaced by computers.

The once union-dominated trucking industry was deregulated in the 1980s, and since then short-haul trucking near Southern California ports has become dominated by companies that use independent contractors. Los Angeles and Long Beach city councils have been grappling with how to address persistent complaints from truckers.

In recent years, the California Labor Commissioner has received hundreds of complaints regarding the misclassification of port truckers and has awarded more than $35 million in back wages and penalties.

The lawsuit asks for damages, compensation for back wages and requests that the company end the practice.

Online edition.

Three Southern California port truck drivers filed a class action lawsuit Monday against a prominent logistics company accusing their management of routinely denying workers owed wages and flouting state labor laws.

Feb 05, 2018

Labor Limbo - Shippers are looking for options after ILA contract talks break down

Printed edition

US BENEFICIAL CARGO owners (BCOs) and container lines may have to start their annual trans-Pacific rate and service negotiations without a new longshore labor agreement in place for East and Gulf Coast ports.

Bargaining by the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) has been stalled since Dec. 6, when talks broke off after a dispute over the definition of automated terminals, which ILA President Harold Daggett opposes

ILA and USMX officials had hoped to agree on a contract extension that would reassure the hundreds of shippers who will attend the JOC’s annual TPM Conference March 4-7 in Long Beach, California. That now looks increasingly doubtful.

Daggett told ILA officials to cancel any plans to attend TPM – a move that suggests no extension is expected in time for the conference, which many BCOs and carriers use as the kickoff for their trans-Pacific service contract negotiations.

Port labor relations involving the ILA on the East and Gulf coasts and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) on the West Coast have cast a long shadow over supply chains, especially the high-volume import trade from Asia. Shippers weigh the possibility of port disruptions in deciding how to route cargo.

Many BCOs shifted cargo from the West Coast after repeated problems highlighted by a 10-day lockout of the ILWU in 2002 and months of slowdowns during the ILWU’s last round of contract talks in 2014-15. The West Coast’s share of US containerized imports from Asia slipped to 65.3 percent in 2017 from more than 78 percent in 2005, according to PIERS, a sister product of The Journal of Commerce within IHS Markit.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing on the East and Gulf coasts, however. In 2012, Daggett warned TPM attendees of a possible ILA strike, and the union twice came to the brink of one during nearly a year of bitter, off-and-on contract negotiations that finally were settled with help from a federal mediator.

Though the current ILA-USMX contract extends to Sept. 30, shippers are anxious for an earlier deal that would help them plan their supply chains without having to factor in a possible port shutdown. Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs at the National Retail Federation, said it is “extremely disappointing” that no extension has been reached.

“Beneficial cargo owners, including retailers, need the predictability and stability of operations at our nation’s ports,” Gold said. “As we have seen over the years, even the threat of a disruption can impact a supply chain.

“We hope the parties will come back to the table and resume negotiations,” Gold said. “We know that NRF’s members are already evaluating contingency plan options if the current contract expires before an extension agreement is reached.” He said this “certainly” will be a topic during BCO negotiations with carriers on service contracts.

When ILA and USMX officials met in Florida in December, they were optimistic about agreement on a six-year extension to 2024. The union and employers began discussing the idea of long-term extension in 2015, but the effort has blown hot and cold.

Pressure to reach an East and Gulf Coast deal increased last year after the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association agreed on a five-year extension through mid-2022. The West Coast extension changed only a few items in the previous agreement.

At their recent Florida meetings, ILA and USMX negotiators took a similar approach that focused on pay and a handful of other issues. Negotiations broke down, however, after Daggett objected to a USMX-proposed clause that defined a fully automated terminal as one in which unmanned vehicles move containers between dockside gantry cranes and remotely operated yard stacks.

Daggett said last July that the ILA had no objection to semi-automated terminals, such as those at Virginia International Gateway and the GCT Bayonne in the Port of New York and New Jersey, but that the union would not accept fully automated terminals.

The Bayonne and Virginia terminals use remote-controlled yard stacking cranes, but rely on dock-worker-driven shuttles to transfer containers from ships to container yards. By contrast, fully automated terminals like those in European ports such as Rotterdam and Bremen and at the Middle Harbor and TraPac terminals in Southern California use autonomous vehicles for the ship-to-yard transfer.

After last month’s talks broke off, Daggett said USMX’s definition opened the door to eventual introduction of fully automated terminals, and that the ILA now opposes semi-automated as well as fully automated terminals.

When the ILA and USMX will resume negotiations on a Maine-to-Texas master contract is still anyone’s guess. No bargaining sessions have been scheduled, and labor and management officials would not comment.

After the breakup of the talks in December, Daggett said the ILA was willing to delay the resumption of negotiations until the current contract ends. However, he directed ILA locals to continue talks on local and regional agreements that supplement the Maine-to-Texas master contract.

Local contract issues vary by port, but are not expected to be the stumbling block they were in 2012-2013, when container lines refused to sign off the coastwide contract until they had secured productivity improvements in the New York-New Jersey local contract.

Printed edition

US BENEFICIAL CARGO owners (BCOs) and container lines may have to start their annual trans-Pacific rate and service negotiations without a new longshore labor agreement in place for East and Gulf Coast ports.

Bargaining by the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) has been stalled since Dec. 6, when talks broke off after a dispute over the definition of automated terminals, which ILA President Harold Daggett opposes

Feb 05, 2018

Outlook for container lines brightens

Printed edition

Market fundamentals and capacity managing activity by carriers are supporting an industry recovery and could see excess capacity in the market decreasing rapidly in the second half of 2018, according to shipping analysts. A better supply-demand balance will generate higher freight rates and help sustain the industry’s newfound profitability. Full 2017 financial results will be reported over next few weeks, and the industry is expected to post its first positive result in years. In the Asia-Europe trade, the capacity outlook late last year revealed an industry facing a daunting supply overhang with huge numbers of mega-ships scheduled to come online in 2018 and 2019.  IHS Markit revealed in December that the total new container ship capacity due to be delivered in 2018 would total more than 1.5 million TEU. Incredibly, more than 30 percent of that capacity would comprise vessels of 18,000 TEU and above, all of which can only be deployed in the Asia-Europe trade. Emboldened by further consolidation in their industry and prospects for moderate growth in imports, carriers in the eastbound Pacific appear poised to achieve “rate restoration” in 2018 in their service contracts, former shipping executive David Arsenault said in late January. “The rate pendulum is slowly shifting,” he told the Propeller Club of Los Angeles-Long Beach. Arsenault was former president of the Americas at Hyundai Merchant Marine. The pendulum swing is visible in terms of US imports from Asia where growth has accelerated steadily from 2.2 percent in 2015 to 5.5 percent in 2017, according to data from PIERS, a sister product of The Journal of Commerce within IHS Markit. US imports from Asia hit 15.7 million TEU last year. Arsenault described a three-year cycle in which spot rates and service contract rates hit bottom in 2016. Last year marked a turnaround, due in part to the Aug. 31, 2016, bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping Co. and the ability of carriers to carry rate hikes into 2017. It also marked the first year for the industry to show a profit since 2010, an estimated $1.5 billion operating profit in their global operations, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants. Carriers enter 2018 anticipating the merger this spring of three Japanese shipping lines – NYK Line, MOL, and “K” Line – into a single carrier to be called ONE. Completion of the COSCO and OOCL merger also will take place this year. For the moment, these mergers could mark a break in the consolidation of the past two years that will cut the number of global carriers in half to 10.

 

Printed edition