Cargo Dwell Time Reaches ‘A New High’ at San Pedro Bay Ports: PMSA

Containers in the YTI terminal
Containers in the YTI terminal
Containers in the YTI terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Port of Los Angeles.

The amount of time a container sat at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last month have reached “a new average high” of nearly six days, according to new data released by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

The averaged high of 5.94 days set last month is the highest since the association started tracking dwell time in May 2016, PMSA said. Before the pandemic-related volume increases, average dwell time for containers usually stayed below three days, shipping association data show.

The average dwell time for rail however, was better, improving from 8.2 days in August to 5.5 days in September, PMSA said.

“While the September figures are alarming, preliminary data for October show some terminals with dwell times of over nine and 10 days,” PMSA President John McLaurin explained. “Terminals are drowning in imports. The need for cargo owners to pick up their containers in a timely manner is greater now than ever before.”

Because of longer dwell times, terminals are more congested and unable to continue unloading vessels at the usual speed, McLaurin said.

“PMSA members have added additional gate hours and leased out additional space but relief at ports will come when containers are picked up in a timely manner,” he said.

By Karen Robes Meeks