L.A., Long Beach Ports Improve Cargo Dwell Time

Port of Los Angeles
Port of Los Angeles
Containers at the Port of Los Angeles’ YTI terminal. File photo via of Port of L.A.

The Los Angeles and Long Beach seaports showed improvement last month in the amount of time cargo lingered at their docks, according to new data released by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

The average dwell time for containers leaving by truck in January was 6.8 days, a drop from 7.8 days the previous month. Meanwhile, dwell time for cargo departing by rail rose slightly from 3.3 days in December to 3.5 days in January.

“Our marine terminal operators have handled record volumes over the last two years, and we hope to see the decline in dwell time continue by discontinuing the practice of using terminals as warehouses,” PMSA government affairs manager Jessica Alvarenga said.

Before the pandemic, the average dwell time was less than three days, but heightened demand for goods in a pandemic has resulted in record cargo movement and higher dwell times at the nation’s two busiest seaports, where the average dwell time was as high as 8.4 days.

The elevated dwell times from congested terminals prompted the San Pedro Bay ports to announce a container dwell fee that would charge ocean carriers $100 for every import that lingers on the docks longer than nine days. The fee would rise in $100 increments per container per day until it departs from the ports. So far, the ports have been delaying implementation of the fee based on how well cargo has been clearing its docks each week.

By Karen Robes Meeks