The port of Oakland (along with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach) have made concerted attempts in the past few years to rein in pollution caused by trucks pulling containers from the ports. The California Air Resources Board is regulating the types of trucks, specifically the engines, that are allowed into the ports. As of the January 1, 2013, trucks with 2006 or older model engines are no longer allowed into the port terminals of Oakland. What surprised me was how many trucking companies seemed to be unprepared for this change.
We discovered in the past week a sudden drop in capacity of drivers. Rough estimates by various trucking companies estimate the drop in capacity by as much as 20%. This, combined with congestion at the terminals, has led to delays in getting containers out of the port. Some truckers are in the process of getting new trucks. Others are in the process of replacing their engines. Some drivers are opting to modify their engines to become compliant (a short-term solution). From talking to various trucking companies, they estimate that this process may take a few weeks to complete. I would not expect a resolution to this issue until after the Chinese New Year.
In the meantime, importers and exporters should plan ahead with the knowledge that they may not be able to get containers out of the ports as quickly as they have in the past. I would advise importers to be flexible with their receiving schedule and have a strong line of communication with their trucking companies.