Port Transparency Act of 2015 a Congressional Priority

Posted by PortVision

In light of recent labor disputes and other issues affecting various ports across America, a group of senators including Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune of South Dakota, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Senator Cory Garner of Colorado, and Senator Deb Fisher of Nebraska have proposed the Port Transparency Act of 2015 (S. 1298). The bill is being hailed as a package of common-sense “sunshine” reforms aimed to deal with labor disruptions and other issues.

Port_of_Oakland-1

By Daniel Parks from Berkeley, United States (Port of Oakland) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

While senators supporting the bill have claimed that the reforms have been in development for years, the recent nine month long labor dispute at 29 western U.S. ports has made passage of the law a priority for the federal government. Senator Thune cited evidence that the labor dispute cost the United States’ economy $2.5 billion a day, a figure he said was partially responsible for anemic economic growth during the first quarter of the year.

The bill calls for a system that will measure the performance and efficiency of the top 25 American ports as ranked by tonnage, dry bulk, and 20’ equivalent -- anywhere from 25 to 75 ports will be subject to the new reporting standards. While numerous trade organizations, including the PPAI (Promotional Products Association International), have acknowledged that every port is faced with unique challenges and contends with its own set of issues, this bill would create a standard set of data points upon which each port would be judged.

Specifically, The Port Transparency Act of 2015 would require the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to work with a variety of organizations including port authorities, government regulators, and industry organizations to obtain “applicable and fruitful” port performance data. These organizations include the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Marine Transportation System Advisory Council. As reported on MarineLink.com, the bill also mandates that a publicly accessible report be generated before, during and after the expiration of port labor contracts. This will allow government agencies to glean information that will help them to ensure that port operations “continue to perform at appropriate levels”.

The bill calls for the following measures to be tracked for larger ports. Reporting on these measures would take place once a year and a report would be submitted to Congress by June 15.

  • Total volume of inbound and outbound cargo to include containers, break bulk, vehicles, and dry and liquid bulk

  • Average number of lifts per hour of containers by crane

  • Average vessel unload and load rate

  • Average vessel turn time

  • Port transit time

  • Average cargo dwell time

  • Average container dwell time

  • Port storage capacity and utilization

  • Average wait time for trucks inside a port complex

  • Average truck time at ports

  • Average rail delay at ports

The bill was originally introduced on May 15, 2015 in the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and ordered to be amended or “marked-up” on June 25, 2015. This means that the bill may continue to go through changes before being approved by the Senate and House. 

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Posted on Oct 7, 2015 7:06:00 AM

Topics: ports, containers