U.S. Ports Get Tough With Shipping Lines as Containers Pile Up



Michael Sasso | Bloomberg

Southern California’s ports are vowing to get tougher with the owners of containers languishing on port property, one of a series of steps announced this week to clear the U.S.’s clogged trade arteries.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week announced they will levy a surcharge on ocean carriers with containers overstaying their welcome. Starting Nov. 1, boxes waiting nine days or longer for truck transport would incur the fee, as would containers waiting three or more days by rail. The surcharge will start at $100 per container and increase in $100 increments each day.

Ocean carriers and trucking companies have each blamed the other for the lion’s share of the container build-up over the past few months. During that period, the backlog has grown.

Previously, containers waiting for truck transport sat for less than four days on average, while those awaiting a train sat for less than two. Today, 40% of the containers at the ports have been there long enough to trigger the new surcharges, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said this week.

In the meantime, more than 75 ships were anchored off the L.A. coast late Tuesday, prevented from unloading until space for their containers is freed up.

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