California-based PierPass believes its controversial OffPeak program that established night and Saturday shifts at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for truck drivers to relieve congestion in and around the ports is working better than expected.

Initially, PierPass set a goal of moving 15% to 20% of cargo during OffPeak shifts after the first 12 months of operation, said Bruce Wargo, the company’s president & CEO. Yet during the first two weeks of the program, OffPeak shifts were typically handling nearly 30% of daily cargo traffic, he said – meaning more than 88,000 truck trips were shifted out of peak-hour traffic during the program's first two weeks.

“The goods movement industry has pulled together to tackle congestion problems in our nation’s busiest port complex,” Wargo explained. “The industry has truly turned on a dime, showing tremendous flexibility in embracing this program to use our existing infrastructure more efficiently.”

Under the OffPeak program, all international container terminals in the two ports have established five new shifts per week (Monday through Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.). As an incentive to use the new OffPeak shifts, a traffic mitigation fee is now required for most cargo movement during peak hours (Monday through Friday, 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.).

Wargo also noted that there have been no significant labor issues during the first two weeks of the program. “Thousands of truck drivers have turned out to move cargo during each OffPeak shift, and we have had good support from the workforce of the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union,” he said.

Marine terminals report that OffPeak turn times for trucks once inside the gates average 35-40 minutes, comparable to turn times during peak hours. However, some drivers have reported delays at individual terminals on certain days, said Wargo, so terminal operators are being asked to address these delays, adjusting nighttime yard operations in order to service trucks faster.