A chassis shortage was a key issue in the recently settled labor dispute that crippled US West Coast ports, and in response, chassis operators at the gigantic Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex in March created a chassis pool to address inefficient chassis use at the ports.
Flash forward three months, and chassis continue to be a thorny problem at West Coast ports.
According to the Journal of Commerce:*
“Until last year, shipping lines owned most of the chassis that were used in harbor haulage. They stored their chassis at the terminals so there would always be equipment available for containers when they were discharged from the vessels. A typical terminal would devote eight to 10 acres to container storage.
However, over the past year, the shipping lines sold most of their chassis to chassis-leasing companies, and marine terminals are developing a business model for chassis storage that appears to be headed in one of two directions. If they have the space, they will allow storage, but will charge for it, or they will ban chassis storage altogether.”
It is expected that the new chassis owners will have to pay for storage through a gate fee which will ultimately be passed on to shippers, something now happening at the Port of Oakland. The organization of marine terminal operators, which is currently evaluating chassis operations at a big picture level, claims that this may not be the case for other West Coast ports. However, chassis pool operators remain concerned that an Oakland-type scenario will negatively impact the ports’ competitiveness.
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