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GSCW chat: Port of NY/NJ maintains fluidity amid record growth

Infrastructure upgrades, no tolerance for excess dwell times help

A terminal at the Port of New York and New Jersey. (Photo: Flickr/Port Authority NY/NJ CC BY 2.0)

This fireside chat recap is from Day 1 of FreightWaves’ Global Supply Chain Week.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Developments and trends at the Port of New York

DETAILS: The Port of New York/New Jersey had a record 2021, finishing 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent units shy of 9 million. The volume was 18% above that in 2020, which was a record year itself.

SPEAKER: Sam Ruda, director of port department, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

BIO: Sam Ruda directs the commercial shipping side at the third-largest container port in the nation. He previously spent 12 years in senior management at the Port of Portland in Oregon and has extensive supply chain experience working for a Fortune 500 company with a wide-ranging Asia-based manufacturing operation. 


Berth occupancy is running close to 100%. So we have our work cut out for us. We’ve lost five years of planning time. We’ve had five years of growth in 22 months. So we’ve lost that cushion. So it’s really pedal-to-the-floor in sort of the next iteration of infrastructure capacity.”

“More data is king. Good data is the emperor. Our model is landlord. But that doesn’t exonerate our role being the steward of these assets. So there is going to have to be more standardized data sharing. We already have a port system. We just need to build on it. I think more data, better data sharing, more timely. And we have to be very thoughtful now about our land-use planning, how we’re allocating our land. We have to look very carefully at whether we need additional land devoted just to empty containers.”

“In 2019, if you talk to the individual terminal operators, probably between 3% to 6% of cargo is going into demurrage — beyond the five days of free time. That has clearly spiked. It’s going to be different across terminals and cargo mix. A lot of the cargo is now 11, 12, 13 days. It’s a pivotal component of fluidity. Some BCOs are using the terminals for warehousing. There’s definitely some villains out there. We know who they are. We have to be vigorous and relentless to keep these boxes moving. Our terminal operators balance commercial considerations with the need for the terminals to be fluid. This whole discussion has really been a function of your ability to flex your existing capacity. We’ve done a very good job at that. But we cannot have cargo sitting at the terminals.

“We were lucky in that we completed some big infrastructure projects before COVID hit — the channel deepening to 50 feet and the Bayonne Bridge. And those two projects generated a host of physical infrastructure at the terminals: berth deepening, more cranes, bigger cranes. So this run-up put us in a very good position to flex this capacity.”

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