Grace M. Lavigne, June 13, 2014, Journal of Commerce
The Canadian government is contributing C$3 million (approximately US$2.76 million) to a new project that aims to reduce trucker wait times at Port Metro Vancouver, following a drayage strike at the country’s largest port earlier this year.
Beginning in February, Port Metro Vancouver was closed down for four weeks because of striking port truckers who were frustrated about terminal congestion and low pay. The port has been plagued by trucker discontent since at least 2005, when the port endured a crippling six-week trucker strike.
The C$3 million contribution from the Canadian government will support the Common Data Interface project, which will use new technologies to better link operations across Port Metro Vancouver’s four terminals ― Centerm, Deltaport, Fraser Surrey Docks and Vanterm ― by coordinating and schedule container truck movements.
One purpose of the project will be to collect data on gate and terminal activities to coordinate multi-shift operations, which will help support the port’s extended hours pilot. The extended hours pilot, which offers night gate operations five nights a week at Vancouver’s TSI- and DP World-operated terminals, was part of the original 14-point joint action plan that the province of British Columbia, the port and other partners offered drivers in mid-March in the hopes that it would end the strike. The strike eventually ended on March 26 with a joint action plan that went beyond the original terms.
The project also aims to develop a common reservation system, or appointment scheduler, by next year for trucks in order to reduce wait times and enhance efficiency of truck movements. It will measure operational performance and enforcement through the collection of location data via GPS, another promise made in the joint action plan.
The project is expected to cost about C$6 million, and it will receive the C$3 million contribution from the Canadian government over two years under Transport Canada’s Clean Transportation Initiative on Port-Related Trucking, with Port Metro Vancouver contributing the other half.
“This federal funding demonstrates this government’s ongoing commitment to maintain long-term stability at Port Metro Vancouver,” said Canada’s Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt. “This project, and all the measures we’ve taken under the joint action plan, is helping to ensure the reliability of Canada’s Asia-Pacific gateway and the economic well-being of Canada as a whole.”
Raitt and British Columbia’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone today issued a joint statement noting progress on the joint action plan:
“A great deal has been accomplished over the past two months, such as increases to the rates to be paid to truckers. However, we remain very concerned about the consistent application of these rates and will not hesitate to take action to ensure compliance with the joint action plan. As an immediate measure, the provincial audit program is being strengthened and targeted investigations are underway.”
The two ministers announced that port advisor Vince Ready, who recommended key elements of the joint action plan, will continue to work for another 90 days to provide additional recommendations to address truckers’ concerns.
“The Joint Action Plan steering committee, in consultation with a variety of stakeholders (marine terminals, trucking companies, United Truckers Association, Unifor, and Teamsters) is making great progress towards achieving long-term stability at the port. We’ve made headway on all aspects of the Joint Action Plan,” Robyn Crisanti, director public affairs, Port Metro Vancouver, said in a statement to the JOC.
Crisanti said that next week installation of about 1,000 GPS units on port-licensed trucks will be complete, making it the only North American port to have the entire fleet outfitted with GPS. The units are expected to make possible accurate payment for wait times — another part of the plan. Payments have already started, and they are retroactive to April 3, 2014.
Regarding other aspects of the joint action plan, also said that a whistleblower program will be launched on June 15 to deal with non-compliance, and a replacement truck licensing system is planned for the fall.
About 2,000 licensed trucks serve Port Metro Vancouver, and they move about 1.3 million TEUs through the port annually, according to the port. Based on a 2011 economic impact study, the value of those goods is about C$46 billion or roughly C$885 million per week. According to port data collected by the JOC, Port Metro Vancouver handled 2.8 million TEUs in 2013, up 4 percent from 2012.