Reservations needed for most pick-ups, goal is shorter lines at gates

Oakland, Calif. - Picking up an import load at the Port of Oakland’s largest marine terminal? You’ll likely need an appointment.

Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) said today it’s making appointments mandatory for most containerized import pick-ups beginning June 6. It means harbor truckers usually won’t be able to drive off loaded boxes without a reservation. The terminal said its goal is to shorten lines at terminal gates while speeding up cargo delivery to customers.

“We applaud this move,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “This is the largest marine terminal in Oakland and they’re taking all possible steps to improve trade flow.”

The terminal said it will require appointments for drivers picking up containers from import delivery lanes. These are rows of containers discharged from ships and stacked five-high to await collection. The boxes are lifted from stacks and loaded on trucks by rubber-tired gantry cranes. The process is the most time consuming at ocean shipping terminals.

Mandatory import reservations will be an extension of the terminal’s existing appointment system, OICT said. Appointments to enter terminal gates are already available, it explained.

OICT said appointments will eliminate long lines of drivers waiting for imports on a first-come, first-serve basis. The terminal handles 67 percent of the containerized cargo shipped through Oakland. It releases about 1,000 import loads daily.

The terminal said it won’t require appointments for other transactions such as empty container return. It added that appointments won’t be required for three unique types of import pick-ups:

Peel-offs, which enable drivers to take the first container from a stack of imports all intended for the same customer;

Dray-offs, which are imports transported to a nearby facility and available for pick-up around the clock; and

Pre-mounted loads, which are import containers affixed to chassis and ready for immediate hauling over the road.

Appointments are the most recent effort to improve cargo flow at the Port of Oakland. Two months ago, OICT began operating night and Saturday gates.

Since then it has added staff, purchased additional cargo-handling equipment and opened a new yard exclusively for empty containers.