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Chassis Shortages Add to Congestion Pains at Ports, Railyards

Chassis shortages have become a major complication of ongoing port congestion, resulting largely from port yards reaching maximum capacity for empty containers. Some carriers have severely limited the number of empty returns they will accept in a day, while others have stopped accepting returns altogether. Others have implemented appointment systems and other devices to slow the pileup. Many carriers require returns to be made at secondary locations, which results in additional mileage for truck drivers. With containers piling up at seaports and rail yards alike, truckers are forced to store empties on chassis, which have become scarce. These idle chassis are needed to continue clearing import volumes from severely congested port yards. The US Southeast ports of Savannah and Charleston, as well as New York and Chicago are bearing the brunt of the chassis shortage, though the Pacific Northwest has reached a tipping point as well. Several major rail services routed through Seattle and Tacoma were suspended recently.

Importers have seen rising costs related to their deliveries in recent months, many of which stem from these added stops on limited driving hours. Surcharges for empty return at alternate terminals; yard storage costs while waiting to return to port; emergency chassis surcharges; all are costs implemented by trucking companies to try to compensate for longer and more involved last-mile deliveries. Any cargo that requires special equipment, is oversized, or overweight, will be difficult to find delivery coverage for as carriers pass over these jobs for abundant local drayage trips.

OTS will do everything we can to minimize additional delivery costs to our customers and appreciate your understanding of today's challenging logistics environment. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your OTS Sales Representative for more information.