Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Oakland Port Moving Toward Saturday Operations

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland wants to operate on Saturdays, but has a couple of concerns about potential weekend gate openings, the port’s executive director revealed in a recent letter to the Federal Maritime Commission.

In the letter, sent Aug. 18 by port Executive Director Chris Lytle to Federal Maritime Commission Secretary Karen Gregory, Lytle said opening terminal gates on Saturdays could ease congestion and improve efficiency in Oakland.

Lytle’s letter was in response to plans by Oakland marine terminal operators to open their gates on Saturdays. The proposal, currently under review by the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners, could ease weekday terminal crowding by adding a sixth day of work.

Oakland terminals are already open on weekends for vessel operations, but rarely for other activities.
The new arrangement would open terminals every Saturday for full operations, including gate entry. This would enable harbor truckers to pick-up containerized imports for delivery, drop-off exports or return empty containers.

In his letter, Lytle said there are two caveats to Saturday operations, one being a resolution to a current labor shortage that has slowed vessel loading operations for several months; and the other being that any fee to fund Saturday operations must be reasonable and used exclusively for those operations.

The port, which itself doesn’t operate marine terminals, has said it favors Saturday hours as part of a broader plan developed to speed up cargo delivery. That plan includes offsite locations to collect empty containers and a common pool of container chassis for harbor truckers.

A labor shortage that has reduced productivity this summer is being addressed, the Port said. It added, however, that more dockworkers are needed to ensure Saturday operations are successful.

If Saturday gate hours were put into place, their effectiveness would be reviewed after one year of operation, according to the port.