Container trucking is an integral link in the port supply chain, responsible for moving about half of all container shipments to facilities across the region. However, terminal wait times and rate undercutting practices are two issues that have been affecting the industry for years.
In February 2014, truck drivers staged a work stoppage over compensation and wait times, which stranded container cargo, causing terminal congestion and impacting shippers, drivers, terminal employees, small and large businesses, and the Canadian economy.
As a port authority, we are mandated to facilitate Canada’s trade objectives in an efficient and secure manner. We worked closely with the federal and provincial governments to resolve truckers’ concerns. On March 26, 2014, an action plan was put forward and accepted by the drivers.
As part of the Joint Action Plan, we fast-tracked our Smart Fleet initiative, which included the introduction of our newly reformed Truck Licensing System on February 1, 2015. The new system is intended to stabilize the container-trucking sector by ensuring the supply of container trucks is more closely aligned with port-related container trucking demand, and truckers are paid fairly without undercutting. To provide much-needed data to support the new system, all port-licensed trucks are now outfitted with GPS technology.
Other steps have been taken to improve efficiency of truck operations. Three out of four container terminals have extended truck gate operating hours to reduce congestion. In addition, we are working with those terminals to develop a shared reservation system that will allow for even more predictability for shippers, trucking companies and drivers.
The Province of British Columbia has also appointed a Container Trucking Commissioner who will monitor the sector and ensure drivers are being properly compensated. Drivers who have any concerns can contact the Drayage Confidence Line for confidential assistance.
All in, these actions represent fundamental improvements to the sector that are being noticed world-wide by other port authorities struggling with similar challenges. We look forward to continuing to contribute to improvements that improve the flow of goods through our communities and benefit those who move those goods for us.
Vice President, Operations and Planning
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority