US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) chairman Daniel Maffei issued a statement on Friday on a proposed change that “would make permanent an incentive program for off-peak gate use” at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
PierPass, a not-for-profit company created by marine terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to address multi-terminal issues, including congestion, launched its OffPeak program in 2005 to reduce cargo-related congestion on local streets and highways around the ports. The program established regular night and Saturday work shifts to handle trucks delivering and picking up containers at the ports’ 12 container terminals.
According to the PierPass website, “OffPeak has taken more than 51 million truck trips out of daytime Southern California traffic and diverted them to less congested nights and weekends.”
An amendment to the West Coast Marine Terminal Operator Agreement (WCMTOA) was filed with the FMC in January to make that program permanent. The parties to that agreement “claim that they were asking for this extension at the request of President Biden’s Port Envoy,” said Maffei.
“I fully support the President’s Port Envoy and his efforts to work with the industry to find ways to reduce congestion including an incentive for greater off-peak gate use. However, neither he nor others advocating off-peak gate incentives could have known that PierPass’ proposed fee structure generates revenue well above what is currently required to implement the program in a revenue-neutral manner.
“PierPass claims to be cooperating with President Biden’s Port Envoy but apparently only if it can rake in millions more in profits paid for by American importers.”
Maffei argued that, “Before the involvement of the Port Envoy, PierPass had given up any semblance of having congestion-related pricing to help incentivize better traffic flow. Today, it collects a Traffic Mitigation Fee that mitigates no traffic.”
The FMC will meet to consider an investigation of the agreement and proposed amendment.