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Letter of Commissioner Bentzel to Carrier Alliances’ Attorneys

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Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel today wrote the attorneys representing each of the three ocean carrier alliances (2M, OCEAN, and THE) encouraging them to consider participating on the Port of New York & New Jersey’s Council on Port Performance.

Text of the letter:

While meeting with supply chain stakeholders at the Port of New York and New Jersey earlier this month, it became apparent that the situation at the Port related to the delivery of imports and exports and the return of empty containers is increasingly untenable. I am concerned that if left unchecked, drayage trucking serving the Port will suffer, and fewer and fewer truckers will be willing to service the port.

In large part, the volume surge of import cargo has contributed to confusion and congestion at the Port of New York & New Jersey, but I also believe the large-scale structure of the existing three carrier alliance system also contributes to the challenge of providing shoreside transportation. Accordingly, I am writing to urge all three Alliances serving the Port engage and coordinate with supply chain stakeholders on how to best address shoreside intermodal transportation services.

As a start, I strongly encourage that each Alliance participate on the Council on Port Performance (CPP). This is an information sharing group that has been assembled to meet on a regular basis with the purpose of ensuring there is consistent communication among stakeholders. However, when the CPP was created, the Alliances had not been established. Overtime individual members of the Alliances have participated in the CPP, but there has never been full representation of all three Alliances. I believe this has been a blind spot in the regional supply chain coordination and has become a drag on the efficiency of the supply chain during the pandemic.

Over the years, the CPP has been the focal point in addressing regional resiliency and supply chain challenges. Many of the problems, I am told, have been resolved by simply being present with other stakeholders, talking issues through.  It concerns me that not all the Alliances have been at the table, participating in real-time problem-solving discussions.

The Port of New York and New Jersey is projected to move 8 million containers this year.  Freight surges and increased volumes have put tremendous strain on the overall regional supply chain. For the benefit of the post pandemic economy, and to better serve freight volumes, all supply chain stakeholders will need to work together to ensure that the freight moves safely, securely, and efficiently.

Please feel free to contact me or my Counsel, John Young, if you wish to discuss this issue further.

Carl W. Bentzel is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.