As vessels continue loitering across Southern California and farther, waiting for berths at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, there has been a consistent increase in transit time between Chinese-base ports and West Coast ports.
Data from Shifl shows transit times have gone up steadily since the summer with transit times in December across the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recording 45 days.
On average, transit times across the West Coast ports have risen by 96 percent since May ‘21. This is 181 percent higher than a pre-pandemic transit average that stands at 16 days between major Chinese ports to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Comparatively, the port of New York has dropped its transit time from 44 days in the third week of November to 33 days by the second week of December.
A consistent increase of incoming vessels could be one reason for increased transit times.
Landside port operations have seen a reversal. Container dwell times have been falling since late October across the West Coast, which coincides with the announcement of additional tariffs on long-dwelling containers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach port terminals.
This is reflected in the gate-out data tracked by Shifl. The gate-out metric measures the time of discharge of the container at the arrival port to it being gated out of the port premises.
Since mid-October, the Port of Long Beach saw import container dwell times drop from 12 days to five days currently which is a 140 percent improvement, while the port of Los Angeles recorded a 125 percent improvement with import container dwell times dropping from nine days to four days currently.
The port of New York has consistently kept container dwell times low, with it never going beyond six days since May ‘21, bringing it down to three days now.
“We need to stop the ripple effect of ships waiting endlessly at Los Angeles/Long Beach even if it means diverting some ships to other ports like New York/New Jersey which is currently recording a quicker transit than West Coast Ports, optimizing the use of some terminals which are underutilized and operate only till 4 p.m.,” said Shabsie Levy, founder and CEO of Shifl.
The high number of ships stuck off the coast of Southern California and further is impacting freight rates which were starting to drop. As per data tracked by Shifl, the rates are rising again and this is attributed to increased demand for space out of China brought about by the lack of ships to load cargo on as ships are still waiting in Los Angeles/Long Beach.
“Once ships return to Asia, we're hopeful rates will come down and we have an opportunity to get out of the repeat ripple effect as we get into the quieter months post Chinese new year,” added Levy.