Spinnage (It’s a new word. Don’t bother to look it up.)

From the LA Times, Nov. 17, 2005:
“A crush of cargo destined for holiday shelves brought Southern California’s twin ports their busiest month ever in October without a hint of last year’s enormous floating traffic jam … And the increased traffic flowed smoothly, port officials said … ‘The comfort level and the confidence level has begun to come back … People are saying, Yes, we can ship our goods through Southern California and have them arrive on time.’…”

From The Journal of Commerce, Nov. 17, 2005:
“California’s ports reported strong cargo volumes in October, although the month’s peak was not as high as ports and shipping lines had hoped for … Marine terminals in LA-Long Beach experienced no serious congestion problems, and intermodal rail service from Southern California remained fluid until late October, when delays of two or more days were reported …”

That’s what you call … spinnage. Everything sounds rosy. But there’s another side to the coin.

From the LA Times, Nov. 18, 2005:
“At a time when record imports are pouring in from Asia, the truckers who work the largest U.S. seaport complex say they are struggling because of the strain of longer work hours and the pain of high diesel prices. With truckers in short supply nationwide, a steady loss of experienced drivers could threaten the ports’ recent return to smooth operations, some warn…. OffPeak, the program to push port traffic away from peak daylight hours to reduce congestion, wasn’t designed to make port work more lucrative for drivers, who don’t receive extra pay for night hours … Short haul drivers occupy the bottom rungs of the trucking industry, lacking the higher incomes and union clout of long-haul truck drivers … No one knows exactly how many drivers have stopped working the ports. An informal survey by the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which tracks ship movements at the ports, found that hundreds had thrown in the towel during the worst of the congestion in 2004.”

From the Business Times, 21 Nov 2005:
“Capacity shortage imminent: study”
“(Singapore) A new study … warns of impending capacity shortages on the US West Coast and at the Panama Canal within the next three years, highlighting the need for ongoing US infrastructure investment. The study by Drewry Shipping Consultants … concluded that, without systemic capacity increases on the West Coast, all reasonable container trade growth projections point to an impending shortage of 1.8 million TEUs by 2008, rising to 6.5 million by 2010 …‘We moved enough volumes as an industry into other gateways to open up some capacity in Southern California. That has allowed for things to remain relatively fluid this year, certainly better than most people thought,’ Mr. Widdows told BT in an interview … Because of the very bad performance of the Southern California ports and inland railroads in 2004, the lowest cost and fastest transit are no longer the sole drivers of the routeing decisions, the Drewry report noted.” [Not as rosy from these angles, is it?]