Keeping score no more: Aligned Seattle-Tacoma ports to release joint container counts

Steve Wilhelm, October 13, 2014, Puget Sound Business Journal

No more keeping score.

One of the most immediately visible results of the creation of the new Seaport Alliance is that no one will know which port is ahead in terms of the number of shipping containers that come through.

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma have joined together to better position the region to compete against Canadian ports and expanded shipping routes.

For decades port watchers and journalists have tracked the ups and downs of the two ports’ container counts – who’s ahead and who’s behind.

But that will end this year when the 2014 numbers will be merged, said Stephanie Bowman, now co-president of the Port of Seattle Commission, and former director of government affairs for the Port of Tacoma.

“The whole idea is at the end of the day, it won’t matter which port cargo comes into, but how both ports benefit,” Bowman said.

Just for the record, last year the Port of Tacoma led, with the equivalent of 1.9 million 20-foot containers, or TEUs, versus the Port of Seattle’s 1.6 million.

Before that, the Port of Seattle was ahead for several years until the Grand Alliance, a group of large ocean carriers, moved from Seattle to Tacoma in 2012.

With the new system, the point will be the success or failure of the Seaport Alliance, rather than of the individual ports. At the end of 2013, calculated this way, the total would have been 3.5 million TEUs.

“That’s where the shift comes in, a paradigm shift in getting people to stop keeping score, and that starts with us,” Bowman said.


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