Chassis Pool Plan Stumbles at Port of New York and New Jersey
In an effort to ease port congestion, the ports of New York and New Jersey initiated a “gray chassis pool” on July 1. The pool represented a collection of chassis that could be rented by any trucker.
But the scheme got off to a rough start right from the beginning. Waterfront unions claimed the exclusive right to maintain and repair chassis, an argument disputed by trucking interests.
Later, one of the participants in the pool, Direct ChassisLink Inc., announced it would penalize truckers $200 if they used Direct’s chassis to haul containers other than those belonging to Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co. or Hamburg Sud. The company later rescinded the measure but asked truckers to voluntarily use Direct chassis to service those three lines only.
Direct ChassisLink claimed the penalty was only a temporary measure until chassis pool arrangements started running smoothly. The pentalties were to become effective on July 24.
Ocean carriers used to own the chassis, but sold them in 2009 to private leasing companies. Truckers who don’t return chassis on time are subject to a demurrage fee or penalty.
Direct ChassisLink, along with TRAC Intermodal, Inc. and Flexi-Van Leasing Inc. lease most of the chasssis at U.S. and Canadian ports, charging between $17 to $25 per chassis per day.
Truckers and ports alike are preparing for especially bad congestion at U.S. ports as container chassis are proving hard to come by. The ports expect peak pre-holiday retail shipments to start ratcheting up soon. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach also instituted a chassis sharing plan recently.
A recent report from the Federal Maritime Commission found that chassis shortages are the main cause for port congestion across the country. Chassis availability has increased by only 2.7 percent in the last year, while container throughput at ports grew by 11 percent.
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