The four main terminals at the Port of New York and New Jersey are closed by 7p.m. each day. There is discussion about the terminals remaining open longer in order to handle higher import volumes caused by mega ships. Ports including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma all offer either evening hours or round-the-clock schedules and Houston plans to extend gate hours next year.
The project to raise the Bayonne Bridge will be completed this year which will allow ships larger than 10,000 twenty foot equivalents to call all the terminals at the Port of New York and New Jersey. This new bridge height will allow even more mega ships to call New York and New Jersey so the port feels it has no choice but to extend gate hours in order to mitigate congestion.
In 2003 Maher Terminals extended gate hours to midnight but eventually cut it back to 7p.m. due to lack of demand. In order to make extended gate hours a reality it will take cooperation from many aspects of the supply chain. A main concern is warehouse hours. If truckers were able to pull containers later in the evening from the terminals but are not able to deliver this will reduce the benefit of extended gate hours. It will be important that if the extended gate hours are implemented that there is consistency among all terminals, warehouses and distribution centers.
This is not the first time that the topic of extended gate hours has been discussed by the terminals at the Port of New York and New Jersey. Recently the topic has been quiet due to a 2 percent decline of imports in 2016 compared to 2015. The volume is expected to rise, due to the bridge project as mentioned but also, because of the new alliance structure effective April 1, 2017. Carriers are focusing on using larger ships and the larger ports which includes the Port of New York and New Jersey.
The Port of New York and New Jersey has struggled with congestion and long turn times and is working towards solutions. Truck appointment times and a universal chassis pool are both projects the port is working extensively on. The message from the port is that although extended gate hours is a solution to the congestion issues that they will consider this will involve collaboration from all parties in order to be successful.