Subsidy extended, largest marine terminal adds functions to night gates
A $1.5 million subsidy program to stimulate night and weekend business at the Port of Oakland has been extended. The port’s largest marine terminal operator responded saying it will use the program to further expand weeknight operations. The announcement comes as the Port abandons its traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. operating model.
“The old way doesn’t work any longer,” said Port Executive Director Chris Lytle. “There’s too much business; we have to stay open longer to get cargo in and out of Oakland.”
Port Commissioners voted last week to continue through June 30 the fund that partially subsidizes extended gate hours. It had been scheduled to expire this week.
Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT), which handles 67 percent of Oakland’s cargo, said it will tap the fund immediately. The terminal has operated nights and Saturdays for two months to ease pressure on busy weekday cargo operations. Now it intends to conduct additional nighttime transactions Tuesdays-through-Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., during a four-week trial.
The new transactions include accepting containerized export loads and receiving and releasing empty containers. The expanded-transaction trial begins May 10. Other nighttime transactions already in place include: refrigerated container handling; containerized import pick-up by customers using an express service known as the one-stop, free-flow program; and import pick-up for containers loaded on chassis for immediate drayage.
“We’re counting on harbor drivers to take advantage of these added nighttime features,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “This is what cargo owners have been asking for and the terminal operator and Port have been listening.”
Extra gate hours are intended to give harbor truckers more time to pick-up and deliver containerized cargo. Until recently, they had only been allowed through terminal gates on weekdays. By working nights or Saturdays, drivers can avoid lines that sometime build up on the dayside Monday-through-Friday. The upshot, the Port said, is faster cargo delivery to customers.
Oakland International Container Terminal said it’s conducting up to 600 transactions every night and 1,200 on Saturdays. The Port said those numbers should grow as more business migrates from weekday operations.