Container Dwell Fee Delayed to May 27 by LA, Long Beach Ports

San Pedro Bay
San Pedro Bay
Stacked containers at a San Pedro Bay port complex container terminal. Photo: Chris Valle Photography.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have once again postponed a fee that would charge ocean carriers for imports staying past their allotted time in San Pedro Bay.

The new planned start date for the Container Dwell Fee is now May 27, but ports’ officials may move down an additional week depending on the progress being made to whittle down stacks of older containers.

The fee, first announced Oct. 25, calls for ocean carriers to be billed $100 for every import lingering at Long Beach and Los Angeles terminals for nine or more days, rising in $100 daily increments per container until the container leaves the docks.

But ports’ officials haven’t collected any fees on lingering containers because the ports have seen dramatic improvements in cargo getting picked up more quickly. The most recent statistic shows that both seaports have seen a combined 48% drop in older cargo since the Oct. 25 announcement.

The ports’ executive directors plan to monitor the following week’s data to determine whether to start collecting the fee or to hold out an additional week, which is what the ports have been doing so far. Long Beach and Los Angeles harbor commissioners have also pushed the fee program to July 28.

The fee was created to clear the backlog of cargo brought on by a surge of imports from pandemic-driven customer demand.

The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association recently reported that in San Pedro Bay the average dwell times for truck-departing imports for April stayed the same for the previous month while average dwell times for rail-bound imports rose month to month.

The average dwell time for truck-bound cargo stayed at 6.09 days, while average dwell time for rail-bound cargo went from 7.7 days in March to 9.6 days in April, according to PMSA.

“While it is important to note that dwell time for containers leaving by truck did not increase this month, it is equally important to note that 6.09 days is far too high,” PMSA government affairs manager Jessica Alvarenga said. “Prior to July 2020 containers remained on terminals for about three days and that’s what we hope to get back to.”

By Karen Robes Meeks