The strengthening economy, re-routed cargo from the West Coast, plus shifting trade routes and business trends have bumped overall cargo volumes more than 10 percent at the Port of New York and New Jersey for the first two months of the year. January volumes rose 7.8 percent over the previous year while February volumes increased by 13.8 percent.
For the same two months, the port logged a 15.9 percent increase in total lifts via ExpressRail, the Port Authority’s dedicated rail system. Vehicle traffic rose as well, with 67,345 vehicles calling the port in January/February 2015 compared to 48,532 for the same two months in 2014 – a 38.8 percent increase.
While encouraging on one hand, volume surges have caused sporadic delays at port terminals. Port officials project it will take several more weeks to normalize activity. To assist in handling unexpected volumes, ocean carriers have employed more than a dozen “extra loaders.” Port constituents can be part of the solution by reading and practicing a list of tips posted at http://www.panynj.gov/port/council-on-port-performance.html.
Meanwhile, the Council on Port Performance (CPP) keeps working to improve long-term performance, efficiency, and reliability at the port. The CPP’s accomplishments include:
- Developing and implementing the first-ever coordinated port-wide Winter Weather Plan. In recent months, this plan played an essential role in minimizing the effects of adverse weather to our customers and port operations as a whole.
- Improving and coordinating communications through greater transparency and information sharing (via CPP emails, eAlerts, updates on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn);
- Publishing a consolidated list of customer service contacts (http://tinyurl.com/lhnapht plus tips on how to help your own business (http://tinyurl.com/lgtqe4w)
- Extending operating hours when possible (i.e. evenings, Saturdays, and ILA holidays);
- Ensuring that 96 percent of the requested new longshoremen work force have been deployed;
- Aligning hours of operation for the Truck Service Center with those of terminals on federal holidays.
Additional improvements are expected to arrive soon. They include:
- An updated Traffic Management Plan;
- A new Chassis Management System (in which all chassis will be interoperable), effective by July 1, 2015;
- The increased use of block stowage for certain rail cargo;
- The implementation of a port community system known as the Terminal Information Portal System (TIPS), a single website where interested parties can get news pertaining to each individual terminal (i.e. extended hours, row closures, etc.) as well as container availability, booking status, empty containers, and vessel schedules.
- A Trucker Guidebook, scheduled for release to the port community by July 1, 2015.