FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers sit on the dock at a container terminal at the Port of Long Beach-Port of Los Angeles complex, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Los Angeles and Long Beach Container Dwell Times Rose to Record in October

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November 23, 2021

By Augusta Saraiva (Bloomberg) —

The number of days containers are waiting to be picked up by trucks at California’s neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach climbed to a record in October, just before officials announced a new plan to clamp down on the backlog in collections.

The so-called dwell time for containers waiting at marine terminals for trucks was 7.64 days on average at the U.S.’s two largest ports last month, up from almost 6 days in September, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association said in a statement Monday. Almost half of all containers unloaded had waited for more than five days, it said.

Meanwhile, dwell times for containers leaving the terminals by rail in October improved to 3.9 days from 5.5 days in September, resulting in the most efficient month this year.

“Terminals are not designed to be a long-term storage facility for cargo,” said Jessica Alvarenga, manager of government affairs at the PMSA.

To clear the logjams, the ports and White House on Oct. 25 announced a plan to charge carriers $100 per day for each container sitting on the docks for at least three days. On Monday, they postponed the start of the charges for a second time because the number of boxes waiting for transport at terminals declined by about one-third. 

Labor shortages, antiquated infrastructure, containers in the wrong places and free-spending U.S. shoppers have spurred an import surge that’s disrupted the flow of global trade. Logjams throughout manufacturing, transport and retail networks have deteriorated to the point that the Biden administration has had set up a task force to smooth out the bottlenecks as the holiday shopping season looms.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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