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LA-LB struggles with chassis shortages, container returns
American Shipper
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Ocean carriers, terminal operators, and truckers in Los Angeles-Long Beach are conting with chassis shortages and hurdles in returning empty containers to the terminals, creating a logistical nightmare for shippers and putting them on the hook for detention ges because of late returns of equipment.
While these two related issues are present to various degrees at other gateways, the problems are magnified in the largest US port complex, where peak-season volumes now being handled at the 12 container terminals are contributing to an annual volume of more than 16 million TEU. The shifting of equipment over a dozen container terminals makes the logistics of securing chassis and returning empty containers exceptionally complex.
“It’s out of control,” said a drayage company utive. Harbor truckers feel especially aggrieved when equipment issues arise. They say they are last in the pecking order of a supply chain in which the beneficial cargo owners (BCOs), carriers, terminal operators, and intermodal equipment providers (IEPs) each do what is best for their industry without regard to the impact on drayage companies and their drivers.
The terminal congestion that results from the chassis dislocations and inability to return empty containers is causing truckers to miss their appointment windows and is significantly reducing the number of dual transactionsthe drivers can make, said Weston LaBar, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association. Five years ago, 80 percent of the truck trips involved the delivery of an export load or return of an empty container coupled with the pickup of an import load. The number of dual transactions today is down to about 20 percent. “We have two truckers doing what one trucker can do,” he said.

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