The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has agreed to extend the lease of New York Container Terminal (NYCT) through 2029 and implement a new system to identify trucks using terminals throughout the port.
Located in the Howland Hook area of Staten Island, NYCT is the most active container terminal on the New York side of the bi-state harbor. (The other container facility in New York is the Red Hook terminal in Brooklyn, but the lion's share of cargo is handled at terminals in Newark and Elizabeth, N.J.)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said the port authority will "make an estimated $35 million investment in capital equipment to enhance the competitiveness of the facility. The Empire State Development Corp. also will provide funding. In addition, the port authority will agree to lower contractually owed payments, based on container volume, which the NYCT processes. NYCT will pass along these combined savings to the truckers who use the Howland Hook facilities."
Tolls at the three bridges (Goethals, Outerbridge, and Bayonne) that connect Staten Island to New Jersey, and thereby the rest of the United States, are scheduled to rise rapidly over the next few years. For example, the cash bridge toll for five-axle tractor trailers will climb from $65 currently to $105 by December 2015. Trucks equipped with an EZ Pass RFID (radio frequency identification devices) will see tolls climb from from $37.50-$50 now, depending on time and day of the week, to $77.50-$90 in December 2015. There are additional charges if a truck has more axles.
Cuomo's office noted the port authority began offering discounts in June that provide a 10 percent toll discount to truckers using EZ Pass and make at least 100 New York-bound non-peak trips per month.
His office said NYCT, owned by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, "is confident it will see a significant increase in new commercial customers over the life of the lease if the agreement is approved."
Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro said NYCT is the island's third largest employer and called for proceeding with a new berth "which will allow the terminal to become even more successful in the coming years."
The port authority said the agreement "also will ensure that no public funds are used to support no/low-show jobs at New York Container Terminal."
The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor and port authority have called for an end to work rules that allow some members of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) to be paid round-the-clock even if they are not at shipping terminals or only there for a short time, calling these no/low-show jobs. They are expected to be an issue during contract negotiations between the ILA and employers this year.
Meanwhile in another trucking-related development, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday to require trucks calling port terminals to use RFID tags so that trucks can be identified at terminals.
The agency said the system will supplement security programs already in place that allow the port authority and its terminal operators to know the content of containers coming to and from the port and the identities and backgrounds of the people transporting and handling the cargo. The RFID will require each truck serving the port to be identified through its vehicle identification number (VIN) and other characteristics to allow port officials to know if it may pose a security risk.
The RFID system also will allow the agency to ensure 100 percent compliance with its truck replacement program, which removes older, dirtier trucks from the road. Currently, the program is monitored randomly by the Port Authority Police Department which checks it as trucks exit terminal facilities. While this method has identified about 400 violations since March 2011, the agency said the RFID system will reduce delays and cut costs, while stopping violators prior to their gaining access to the port.
The agency expects the system to be in place by the second quarter of 2013. Once the system is online, all trucks seeking access to the port will be required to have a RFID tag installed.
The agency will implement the system with Sustainable Terminal Services, Inc., a consortium of terminal operators in the port. - Chris Dupin