Watch Now

PierPass: OffPeak program diverted 48 million truck trips

Moving traffic at ports of LA and Long Beach to nights and Saturdays credited with reducing congestion and pollution

PierPass says OffPeak has reduced congestion and pollution around the ports of LA and Long Beach. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

PierPass Inc. said Tuesday its OffPeak program has taken 48 million truck trips out of daytime Southern California traffic since its launch 15 years ago.

OffPeak was designed to reduce cargo-related congestion and pollution in and around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by diverting truck trips to night and Saturday shifts funded by the program, according to PierPass, a company created by 12 container terminal operators at both ports in 2005.

PierPass said the number of annual truck trips to and from the two ports rose 20% between 2005 and 2019, a period that saw no significant expansion of nearby highway capacity.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., said OffPeak has helped the ports of LA and Long Beach “continue operating as a major source of jobs in Southern California. I was very proud to spearhead the legislative effort that led both to the creation of PierPass and to extended hours at the port.”

The regular night and Saturday work shifts at the adjacent ports established through OffPeak are primarily funded by a traffic mitigation fee (TMF) levied on loaded containers entering and exiting the ports by truck, PierPass said. The fee will increase by 4.2% on Aug. 1 to $33.47 per twenty-foot equivalent unit and $66.94 for all other sizes of container.   

PierPass said that because there is no fee on intermodal cargo — containers leaving or arriving by rail — the TMF is paid by cargo headed for Southern California and other nearby destinations. For example, containers arriving from Asia and leaving the ports by rail to other parts of the United States don’t pay the TMF, it said. 

“PierPass is a prime example of the private sector joining together to take coordinated action to address the needs of the goods movement industry and the needs of the community,” Lowenthal said. “Their OffPeak program has helped our economy, our workers and the health of our residents.”

OffPeak was restructured in November 2018 after an 18-month process of consultation with stakeholders, analysis and a survey. PierPass 2.0 was designed to reduce traffic congestion by spreading cargo movement across two shifts using appointments. 

Heavy-duty trucks are the largest source of smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions and toxic diesel exhaust in the region. By decreasing the time that trucks are idling and stuck in traffic, OffPeak also has helped improve air quality, according to PierPass.

“The severe traffic impacts caused by cargo movement in the pre-PierPass era of daytime-only operation is becoming a distant memory,” said PierPass President John Cushing. “The program has enabled Southern California’s distribution centers and warehouses to regularly operate a second shift and has been a model for other ports around the country that have created their own programs for extended gates.”

ILWU: Don’t blame labor for ports’ market share drop

Seroka working to stem tide of market share loss

California governor urged to reverse ports’ receding market share