Ship cargo volume slumping at West Coast ports and it does not look good for the future.
Michael Jacob, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association in San Francisco, has bought into the idea the West Coast faces daunting structural problems. His trade association represents 60 maritime terminal operators and ocean carriers. "In the long term, we are seeing the threat of all kinds of issues - issues on steroids," he said. These include "the lack of freight-supporting infrastructure," meaning highway and rail improvements as well as improved port facilities; and pricing, due to fuel, environmental costs, port container fees, and the costs associated with congestion, said Jacob. "Everyone has environmental issues," he said, "but we have them in spades." In addition, Jacob says that some shippers are choosing an alternative route around California, "investing somewhere else." He added, "We are actually on the front end of a long-term structural change of business models where people are building their supply chains around California" for goods not destined for California.
While west coast Ports are having drastically lower shipping numbers, east coast ports are gaining. The Port of Savannah has passed The Port of Oakland as the 4th Largest Port in the US.
But get this, the Prince Rupert Port Authority in British Columbia - served by the Canadian National Railway with service to Chicago - said its container traffic increased 281 percent in the third quarter, compared with the first quarter. Hmmm. Lots of things to consider.
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