NYK ends providing chassis in some markets
NYK Line said Thursday that it would stop providing chassis in some markets.
Effective Aug. 1, the Japanese carrier said it will no longer provide chassis in Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Miami for import and export bills of lading, and that motor carriers working directly for NYK Line customer merchant haulage — where the shipper or consignee arranges transport beyond the port — should plan accordingly. Effective Sept. 1, the policy will extend to Oakland, and it added “further extensions of the policy will be announced as the program evolves.”
NYK’s announcement came hours after Evergreen said it would phase out providing chassis for import and export cargo in Boston starting Aug. 15, and gradually expand the program to other areas within the United States.
Last week CMA CGM told customers they would begin a similar phase out in the fall, and Atlantic Container Line and OOCL are also ending routine provision of chassis in some or all cities.
Maersk Line has set up a new business whereby it rents its chassis to draymen.
NYK said the change would make drayage more efficient and be better for the environment by reducing the total number of chassis that have to be stored and moved.
“NYK Line believes that this policy change will not only lower total cost but will also build greater flexibility for the trucker, minimizing inefficiencies in the performance of their daily work. In addition, the policy change will have an immediate impact on terminal congestion reducing turn time and ultimately providing a better product for the customer.”
Curtis Whalen, executive director of the Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference of the American Trucking Associations, said while steamship lines have indicated for many years they would like to get out of the chassis business, the flurry of recent announcement have been “confusing to the trucker” because there hasn’t been a good explanation of how the change will effect truckers or shippers.
“The good news is that they are rolling it out, it is not nationwide to start,” he added.
He said that new chassis safety “roadability rules” implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have focused the industry on responsibilities in the chassis deployment business.
Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs director for the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, agrees, and believes the new regulations are causing a “rush to the doors.”
He complains about “systematic maintenance issues” with intermodal equipment and said under the new FMCSA regulations, chassis providers that “don’t take their responsibilities seriously” could face fines and even the risk of having operations curtailed.
Carrier executives disagreed. Chris Koch, president and chief executive officer of the World Shipping Council, an organization that represents liner carriers, said, “I think the industry has worked through the roadability rules. I don’t think it is that. I think it is just that these things are very expensive and they create a great deal of operational difficulties for the industry to deal with.”
Peter Keller, a former NYK president and former chairman of Consolidated Chassis Management, which operates chassis pools around the country, also said that liner companies have been providing good quality chassis to draymen.
The United States is said to be the only country where truckers don’t routinely provide their own chassis to move shipping containers, a phenomena widely attributed to the “door-to-door” transportation vision of containerization pioneer Malcom McLean.
“Ocean carriers have been frustrated by the expense and difficulties of providing chassis in the U.S.,” said Koch. “I think the lines are still very focused on trying to be as efficient as they can and reduce costs where they can because they are not at all confident about where future trade volumes are going.
“This has been an area that is difficult for the industry to deal with for many years and I think what you see is that a number of carriers are announcing initiatives to try and address those issues.” ' Chris Dupin