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Chassis storage outside of NY-NJ port is a cause for concern among truckers

TRUCKERS have raised concerns that cargo drop off and pick up times could take longer as a result of APM Terminal's decision to cease storing chassis at its terminal at the port of New York and New Jersey, in a bid to free up space for increased cargo volumes since the terminal expects to handle more mega-ships now that the Bayonne Bridge has been raised.

APM Terminals, which needs the space for an ongoing US$200 million upgrade, is the last of the four main terminals at the port complex to remove chassis from their terminals. This has raised questions as to how the port's chassis providers would handle the spikes of cargo unloaded from several 14,000 TEU ships in succession, or simultaneously, reported IHS Media.

Chassis providers TRAC Intermodal (TRAC) and Direct ChassisLink Inc (DCLI) will no longer store chassis at APM Terminals, and all their chassis must instead be returned to two nearby locations, Elizabeth Chassis Depot in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and C&C Maintenance in Newark, New Jersey.

Chassis can be picked up at the terminal until January 15, when all chassis will be picked up from the two yards.

Port stakeholders are trying to jumpstart a stalled effort to create a "grey" chassis pool that would enable chassis from any supplier to be delivered and picked up at locations throughout the port.

However, no new plan emerged at a meeting of port stakeholders, known as the Port Performance Council, last month. The council was expected to discuss several ways to advance the effort after an agreement between (DCLI) and FlexiVann collapsed in July.

DCLI senior vice president Ron Joseph said that although the company pulled out of the talks mainly due to the uncertainty created by its need to move from APM Terminals, the provider is not ready to commence talks again now that it is moving to the Elizabeth Chassis Depot.

"We will look at it at some point, we haven't right now because there have been so many changes," Mr Joseph was quoted as saying. "Once this has been operating for a period of time we will take a look at it again."

"Now we have to go to another location to get a chassis," said National Retail Systems vice president of drayage Steve Schulein. "It doesn't make it any easier. It's another stop."

Mr Joseph said that despite the extra move truckers may find quicker service at the intermodal equipment providers' (IEP's) terminal. That's because chassis at APM Terminals were inspected for roadability on the way out, forcing truckers to wait for repairs or find another chassis if a problem was discovered, he said. The new terminal will inspect the chassis when they are dropped off, he said.

"Even though it might be another stop, it could result in a better turn time," Mr Joseph said. "If they get a better road-ready chassis at the new Elizabeth yard, they get through the outbound faster."

Northeast Container Port Group regional manager Rob Movshin at the New York-New Jersey port said the move may not make much difference, especially if IEPs have higher quality equipment at the yards.

"If the flow of the equipment is good, and the IEPs are better able to provide opportunities so that every time you go in you have good equipment, it's not a bad thing," he said.

However, any delays in the extra move could be problematic, especially after the enactment of a federal law in December that requires truckers to more closely document their time with an electronic logging device (ELD), Mr Movshin said.

"If drivers are going to consistently leave the pier in order to make swaps in an ELD environment, it could be disastrous," he added.
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