Traffic Mitigation Fee at California ports postponed until Aug. 1

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The West Coast MTO Agreement announced it will postpone until Aug. 1 its planned adjustment to the Traffic Mitigation Fee at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. WCMTOA says the schedule change is in response to feedback from customers and other partners in the goods movement industry and is intended to provide more time for cargo owners to prepare for the adjusted TMF.

On Aug. 1, the TMF will increase to $60 per TEU (20-foot equivalent unit) or $120 per FEU (40-foot equivalent unit) from $50 per TEU currently. The TMF adjustment originally was planned to take effect on July 4. “By reducing operating losses for the PierPass OffPeak program, the TMF adjustment will enable terminal operators to continue operating the extra shifts that reduce congestion and air pollution in and around the ports,” says Bruce Wargo, president of PierPass, the nonprofit formed by WCMTOA in 2005 that runs the OffPeak program.

By nearly doubling the number of operating hours per week, the PierPass OffPeak program is designed to increase the capacity of America’s largest port complex without requiring additional infrastructure. Staffing the additional shifts (currently four to five per week, depending on the terminal) also provides additional work opportunities for truckers and cargo operations due to expanded economic activity in and around the ports.

This is the first increase in the TMF since 2006. WCMTOA says that since then, hourly labor costs have increased 31 percent, and the terminals have operated the OffPeak gates at a loss since the program’s start in 2005. The shortfall between TMF revenues and OffPeak gate costs was $52.3 million in 2010, WCMTOA says. The PierPass OffPeak program was created in response to government, local community and cargo owner requests to tackle the port congestion issue that peaked in 2004.

“Before PierPass was created in 2005, the ports and nearby roads were gridlocked, ships were backed up in the harbor unable to unload, and cargo owners suffered long delays in receiving and shipping vital goods,” Wargo says. “Over the past six years, PierPass OffPeak gates have grown to handle approximately 55 percent of all container traffic at the ports, accommodated close to 20 million truck transactions and greatly eased congestion on city streets and nearby freeways during daytime business hours. The TMF helps fund the nighttime and Saturday gates that make these benefits possible.”