Container Dwell Times at LA, LB Ports Still High, PMSA Analysis Finds

Dwell chart
San Pedro Bay weighted average inbound laden container dwell time in days. Chart courtesy Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

Container dwell time at the adjoining ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles remain high, according to an analysis released in mid-August by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

On average, containers leaving the San Pedro Bay port complex by truck during the month of July remained on terminals for 5.2 days, up from 4.76 days the month before, data show. Additionally, the number of containers leaving by truck that exceeded a five-day stay was 26.7%, up from 23.6% the month before, according to the PMSA, a non-profit global trade group.

“The high cargo volumes continue, warehouses remain at capacity, and cargo owners are not picking up containers in a reasonable time,” Jessica Alvarenga, Manager of Government Affairs for the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association remarked.

Data also showed that containers leaving on rail experienced a minor dip in dwell time in July, staying an average of 11.3 days before departing, down from 11.8 the month before. About 53% of them remained on terminals for more than five days, down from 63.8% the month before but still contributing to delays.

“The (COVID-19) pandemic related surge in volumes continues with no end in sight for the time being, and containers continue to fill marine terminals,” the shipping association said in a prepared statement.

The PMSA contends that the more containers that are on terminals, the more “unnecessary” moves dockworkers must perform to deliver the intended outbound container, and the more terminal space is taken up, thereby congesting terminals and limiting the flexibility to handle more containers and unload more vessels.

“Despite all of the challenges the entire supply chain has been experiencing with record volumes and related congestion, our terminal operators and dockworkers continue moving cargo in and out of America’s busiest ports,” Alvarenga added.