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Mar. 17, 2014

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SURFACE & DOMESTIC TRANSPORTATION TRUCKING | RAIL | INTERMODAL | AIR & EXPEDITED | DISTRIBUTION 46 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE MARCH 17.2014 By Joseph Bonney O PE R ATO R S O F T WO cha ssis pools in Southern California have unveiled plans to cooperate in a "gray" f leet of 68,000 chassis that could be interchanged at 11 container terminals in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Direct ChassisLink and Flexi-Van Leas- ing have asked the Justice Department for a business review letter, and plan to launch the gray fleet 60 to 90 days after obtaining it. The cooperation would mark a breakthrough in efforts to change the frag- mented chassis-supply model at the nation's busi- est container gateway. Los Angeles-Long Beach is home to about 100,000 of the estimated 500,000 chassis in the U.S. market. DCLI and Flexi-Van executives said a gray fleet covering multiple terminals would reduce unnecessary truck trips and pave the way for eventual movement of chassis operations off valuable acreage at terminals. Flexi-Van and DCLI's planned coopera- tion would cover the existing 35,000-unit LABP pool, managed by Flexi-Van, and the 33,000-unit DCLB pool, managed by DCLI. The pools would continue to compete but would enter an interchange agreement allow- ing them to share chassis. Each pool would pay a fee or receive a credit if it uses more or less than its share of equipment. A third party would be hired to oversee data exchange, accounting and other issues. Bill Shea, DCLI's chief executive, said that after a brief start-up period, other equipment providers could join the gray fleet via usage agreements with LABP and DCLP or by contributing chassis to the pools. The gray pool eventually could expand to include other equipment owners and ship lines to provide full interchangeability of chassis in the harbor, he said. The LA BP and DCLP pools ser ve an overlapping list of seven terminals each, and cover 11 of the 13 container ter- minals in the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex. DCLI and Flexi-Van officials said termi- nal operators could use each pool's chassis for another's customers, and that motor car- riers could return LAPB and DCLP chassis to any terminals using the combined pools. The third major chassis lessor, TRAC Intermodal, is one of the contributors to the LAPB pool. All of the equipment providers intend to respect existing union jurisdiction for chassis maintenance and repair. Jurisdic- tion is a touchy issue for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which is preparing for negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Association on a contract to replace the one that expires on June 30 at West Coast ports. The PMA's position is that the ILWU has the right to retain its work within terminals, but that the contract doesn't extend to M&R work performed by other companies outside the ports, PMA President Jim McKenna told the JOC's 14th Annual TPM Conference in Long Beach this month. JOC Contact Joseph Bonney at and follow him on Twitter: @JosephBonney. NO CHASSIS, NO container move. That reality is hitting home for truckers and cargo owners at U.S. container ports. Winter storms, bunched ship arrivals, holiday disruptions, heavy volume and labor shortages have left chassis out of position and unavailable for loads. This combination of events has complicated the continuing shift from a model in which ocean carriers routinely provided chassis in a bundled service. "Where are the chassis?" asked Carl Frederick, co-owner of Container Transport Services in Kearny, N.J. "We're hav- ing to dispatch drivers according to chassis availability. I'm beginning to think this is a con- spiracy of ineptitude." Lessors say they've poured several thousand chassis into the New York-New Jersey market, but truckers still report daily shortages at terminals. Repair backlogs have been complicated by a shortage of International Longshoremen's Association mechanics. The ILA and its employ- ers have been in a standoff with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor over new rules for hiring ILA mechanics. Truckers have been hoarding chassis rather than returning them to a congested terminal where a driver might spend several hours only to find no replacement chassis available. Other chassis are out of position at inland locations hit by winter storms, or parked at distribution cen- ters under loaded containers enjoying extended free time negotiated by container lines and cargo owners. Problems haven't been limited to the East Coast. Ed DeNike, executive vice president of SSA Containers, said SSA recently was unable to work a large ship at Los Angeles because too few chassis were available. "I never saw that when SSA had its own chassis," he said at the JOC's TPM Conference this month. "These pools are going to have to figure out how they're going to get the chassis to and from the different termi- nals so that we can work efficiently." — Joseph Bonney YES, WE HAVE NO CHASSIS GOING 'GRAY' DCLI and Flexi-Van plan a chassis interchange program at Los Angeles-Long Beach

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