Bodies representing shippers and retailers on Thursday expressed serious doubts about the wisdom of a plan by Port of Oakland operators to start charging fees for peak-time service.
The proposal, titled Oakpass, was made formally in early August when Oakland Marine Terminal Operators asked the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to amend the Oakland Marine Terminal Operators Agreement.
Port operators want to introduce Saturday container service – something they have never done before – to help alleviate Monday-to-Friday buildup and to subsidise that service by charging for moving containers in peak hours. It is all in the name of clearing congestion at a time when they face worsening traffic because of bigger vessels.
It is a similar-sounding idea to the PierPass system that is already in effect at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
An industry group for retailers, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), said in a letter to the FMC on Wednesday that it was troubled because very few details of the proposal have been made public and also because it does not think PierPass is effective.
And a group representing shippers, the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), wrote to the FMC on Thursday with similar concerns. Their letter requested the FMC to nail down the monetary amount of the proposed fees and to seek evidence for how much the plan would really do to help reduce congestion.
Under PierPass the fee for each 20-foot container is $17, and $34 for 40-foot containers.