A Deltaport that sees trucks arriving 24 hours a day would be key in helping make its operations even smoother, says Port Metro Vancouver president and CEO Robin Silvester.
In a recent interview with the Optimist, Silvester went over some of the initiatives under discussion or underway aimed at minimizing the port's impacts.
An often talked about idea that could ease the movement of goods in a major way is making the port a 24-hour operation for accepting containers. That would spread out truck traffic while easing pressure at the port, said Silvester, who wholeheartedly supports the idea.
He said it's something that has been much talked about, and those discussions continue, but cooperation is needed from truckers and all the businesses along the supply chain to make it a reality.
"It's absolutely something we want to work with the industry as a whole to try to move towards. It has so many benefits. It helps smooth out the demand at the terminal, it helps move some of the truck traffic out of the peak hours during the day."
Currently, Deltaport moves the majority of containers by rail, but those destined for local markets are carried by truck.
Approximately 1,300 trucks utilize the port over a 24hour period, but that's done primarily during regular business hours.
"From the truckers' point of view, it's all well and good if you can pick up a box at the terminal, but you actually have to have somewhere to deliver it as well. Distribution centres need the resources to take containers at night, so the whole system has to operate in a different sort of way," said Silvester.
There's nothing to indicate the port authority is close to an arrangement with the many stakeholders whose participation is required, but he said a 24hour port at Roberts Bank must come sooner rather than later.
"It's a complex set of problems," Silvester said. "But the only way you solve it is to get all the parties at the table to work on it together with the right information, and we're making some big steps toward that goal."
On another front, one of the most talked about issues lately has been truckers conveying frustration about wait times, a problem Silvester said is due in part to capacity reaching a threshold.
There are a number of initiatives aimed at reducing those pressures, including the Deltaport Road and Rail Improvement Project as well as other infrastructure projects like the South Fraser Perimeter Road.
However, a number of discussions have taken place with stakeholders, including the B.C. Trucking Association, to see how processes now can be improved, leading to several refinements, such as opening an extra facility at the terminal to help truckers deal with paperwork problems.
"Some of it is more fundamental, really looking at the operating systems and try to work out better ways to solving the problems," said Silvester.
"One of the things that we're very excited about is a pilot we now have running using GPS technology in trucks. At the moment we have 300 trucks that log their position and that helps us understand where they're getting delayed and how long they're in the queue.
"There's a lot of work going on. It comes back to the overall driver: the more demand there is for trade, the more truck trips there are and the more we need to have the structural capacity to deal with that, but also the more we need to refine the operating systems to use the infrastructure we have in the best way possible."
in the best way possible." As the port continues to look for ways to make truck movements more efficient, Metro Vancouver also plans to deal with the issue through a newly formed regional transportation committee. That committee, vice-chaired by Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, will discuss various issues regarding traffic management and the movement of goods, including truck movements to the port.
Truck traffic is an issue already discussed by Delta's port liaison committee as well as a container truck working group.