The Port of New York and New Jersey is facing a severe shortage of chassis from draying containers to and from the area. Stalled operations have been affecting the flow of goods in this region in advance of the 2012 peak shipping season.
Chassis, which are the framework in which the ocean container is housed, are essential to the movement of freight. Adjustments are being made at the ports to work around the shortages, but truckers are being tasked with returning all chassis in their possession to lessen this burden by affected terminals.
Truckers report that chassis shortages are especially severe at Maher Terminals in Port Elizabeth, NJ and Global Terminal in Jersey City, NJ. Major shortages are also being reported by the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island. Maher Terminals sent a letter this past month to drayage operators in the metropolitan region urging them to return any metro chassis in their possession back to their depot. The letter further stated, “We are still experiencing severe Metro chassis shortages; however, we are doing limited processing of drivers based upon chassis returns.”
The chassis shortage situation was caused as a direct result of the influx of ocean shipping during fall peak season. Increased traffic from the July 4 holiday necessitated a significantly higher number of chassis to be leased out to truckers.
Jim Bowe, Vice President of Field Sales and Customer Service for Trac Intermodal, a chassis leasing company, commented on the situation, saying “We’re clearly seeing some peaks in volumes and vessel bunching, which historically happens in July and August.”
Until recently, ocean carriers supplied chassis, but opening the door for companies, including Trac Intermodal, to provide chassis used by drayage truckers.
Simultaneously, shippers are experiencing additional shortages nationwide due to inoperable chassis awaiting repairs. Labor agreements have specified that the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) have jurisdiction over chassis repair, limiting repair options for chassis pool operators. The Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers weighed in on truckers’ complaints. “Trac kept saying that they don’t have enough labor to fix [the chassis],” said Jeff Bader, President of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers.
Bowe stated that his company has had to steer truckers to other terminals where chassis are available to continue the flow of goods. “We are looking for more labor at the terminals to fix chassis,” Bowe said. “If chassis are short at Terminal A, you can go down the street to Terminal B and we have equipment available, so I wouldn’t categorize this as a chassis shortage.” Even still, this deficit is limiting the number of turns a trucker can make in one day. For independent owner operators in an industry operating on a tight profit margin, the decreased turns is drastically affecting their earning potential.
“NY-NJ Container Terminals Hit by Chassis Shortage” Peter T. Leach, Senior Editor July 11, 2012 The Journal of Commerce Online-News Story
“Chassis Shortage Hurting NY-NJ Container Terminals, Drivers” July 18, 2012 Trucking Info – the web site of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine