By Mark Edward Nero
A $1.5 million subsidy program to stimulate night and weekend business at the Port of Oakland has been extended another 60 days.
Port commissioners voted last week to continue through June 30 a fund that partially subsidizes extended gate hours. The fund had been scheduled to expire the first week of May.
Oakland International Container Terminal, which handles 67 percent of Oakland’s cargo, said May 3 that it would tap into the fund immediately in order to further expand weeknight operations.
The time extension comes as the port says it’s abandoning a traditional 8 am to 5 pm operating model.
“The old way doesn’t work any longer,” port Executive Director Chris Lytle said. “There’s too much business; we have to stay open longer to get cargo in and out of Oakland.”
Oakland International Container Terminal has operated nights and Saturdays for two months to ease pressure on busy weekday cargo operations.
It now intends to conduct additional nighttime transactions from 6 pm to 3 am Tuesdays through Thursdays during a four week trial. The new transactions include accepting containerized export loads and receiving and releasing empty containers. The expanded transaction trial begins May 10.
Other nighttime transactions already in place include refrigerated container handling; containerized import pick-up by customers using an express service known as the one-stop, free-flow program; and import pick-up for containers loaded on chassis for immediate drayage.
Extra gate hours are intended to give harbor truckers more time to pick up and deliver containerized cargo. Until recently, they had only been allowed through terminal gates on weekdays. By working nights or Saturdays, drivers can avoid lines that sometime build up on the dayside during weekdays.
Oakland International Container Terminal said it is conducting up to 600 transactions every night and 1,200 on Saturdays. Those numbers are expected to grow as more business migrates from weekday operations.
“We’re counting on harbor drivers to take advantage of these added nighttime features,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “This is what cargo owners have been asking for.”