When the sun goes down over the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the OffPeak program initiated by PierPASS goes to work to reduce congestion, help clean up air pollution and improve throughput at the nation’s busiest marine terminals. By encouraging carriers to access the Port during its “off-peak,” nighttime hours, it has improved business during the busy daylight hours and benefited the nearby communities impacted by port activity, as well.

OffPeak is a success story that deserves telling and a model for other busy facilities looking for opportunities to improve efficiency, according to Bruce Wargo, president & CEO of PierPASS, Inc. “OffPeak has become a core element at ports on the West Coast,” he told Fleet Owner. “I’m awfully proud of it and the value it adds. More than 63,000 trucks go through our ‘night gate’ at the ports every week. We’ve added extra capacity by adding velocity and we’ve reduced congestion and contributed to improved air quality in the process.”

PierPASS is a not-for-profit organization created by marine terminal operators at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and OffPeak was created by PierPASS in 2005. The program works by requiring cargo owners hauling into and out of the ports during the day to pay a “traffic mitigation fee” to help pay for the operation of what Wargo calls “the night gate.”

The per-container fees ($50 for each 20-foot container and $100 for a 40-foot container) are all handled electronically over the Internet. Companies pay no fees for containers moved at night. According to Wargo, the container fees cover about 85% of the cost of the nighttime operation.

“The OffPeak night-gate program has really been the cornerstone of our efforts at PierPASS,” he said. “It would be difficult to go back to daylight-only operation now. Keeping trucks moving like we have has been good for truckers, cargo people, terminal operators and the community. Port operations are an easy target when things go wrong. This program is a good example of things gone right.”

A new OffPeak schedule went into effect on May 1. Most terminals at the ports are open during off-peak hours Monday through Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Five terminals also offer OffPeak access on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Details are available online