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Long Beach container backlog crosses red line as delays mount

The number of container ships waiting off Los Angeles and Long Beach is well off its highs, but the pileup of import containers waiting on Southern California terminal yards is quickly reapproaching its peak.

Long Beach just crossed a red line. The number of import containers sitting on Long Beach terminals for nine days or more is now higher than it was on Oct. 28, 2021, the date the port first began counting these boxes as part of a plan to reduce them.

Back in October, the ports of Long Beach and LA announced a controversial strategy to charge a fee on long-dwelling containers. Or at least, they threatened to charge a fee (it has been delayed ever since).

The Biden administration coordinated with the ports on the plan and touted reductions in long-dwelling containers in its supply chain updates. On January 20, the White House stated, “The proposed fee on containers that sit on the docks for over eight days at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continues to play a key role in enhancing the fluidity of the ports and … has led to about a 60% reduction in the number of these long-dwelling containers sitting on the docks since November 1.”

That progress has completely evaporated in Long Beach and is close to disappearing in Los Angeles. Long Beach had 28,723 containers dwelling nine days or more as of Monday. That’s 9% higher than the total in late October.


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