The Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers applauded the Federal Maritime Commission’s formation of Supply Chain Innovation Teams aimed at addressing ongoing obstacles to efficiency at the Port of NY/NJ. “Our members estimate that motor carrier productivity is down as much as 40%,” said Bi-State Chairman Tom Heimgartner, President of Newark-based intermodal carrier BEST Transportation. “Empty return restrictions, poor service levels, and insufficient appointment availability have all hindered truckers’ ability to complete double moves,” Heimgartner said, “creating an obstacle to efficiency that has contributed significantly to the current crisis. Increasing the ability for truckers to complete double moves must be made a priority if we are to clear the backlog.”

Bi-State President Lisa Yakomin praised the FMC’s practical, common-sense approach to addressing ongoing supply chain issues at our nation’s ports, and their efforts to encourage ocean carriers to take a more active role in finding solutions. “Last Spring, Commissioner Carl Bentzel urged the three Ocean Carrier Alliances to increase their level of communication with our port community,” said Yakomin. “He cited the empty return situation as ‘increasingly untenable” and accurately predicted that, ‘if left unchecked, drayage trucking serving the Port will suffer.’ His predictions proved to be spot on. It’s time for ocean carriers to finally come to the table, acknowledge the issues that exist, and work with us to resolve them.” 

Heimgartner also expressed admiration for Commissioner Rebecca Dye’s long-standing commitment to investigating detention and demurrage practices, and her strong leadership in working to facilitate open, productive dialogue amongst port stakeholders. “Commissioner Dye has been at the forefront of investigating the business practices surrounding the assessment of detention and demurrage fees,” said Heimgartner. “She has taken the time to fully understand the negative impact these exorbitant fees can have, not just for the trucking community, but also for cargo owners, and ultimately, the American consumer.”

The Bi-State pledged its full support for the FMC’s efforts, and reaffirmed its commitment to engaging with ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, and other intermodal stakeholders in order to implement solutions that will ease port bottlenecks. “Intermodal trucking represents a crucial link in the supply chain,” said Yakomin. “The Bi-State continually strives to maintain a high level of communication with all of our port partners, sharing and amplifying the motor carrier perspective. Over the past 6 months, we’ve sought out direct communication with the steamship lines that call upon our port, and continue to participate in bi-weekly stakeholder meetings hosted by the Port Authority of NY/NJ. The Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers stands ready to assist the FMC’s Supply Chain Innovation Teams, contributing whatever resources, insight, and expertise they need to achieve swift resolution to the current supply chain crisis.”