The Port of Virginia said today it has launched a motor carrier reservation system to manage the increasing flow of truck volumes at the port.
The platform, which is called the "Trucker Reservation System," began today on a phased-in basis at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT), the port's largest terminal. Initially, reservations will be required for port truckers calling the terminal between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. Monday through Friday, and between 7 am and 9 a.m. on Saturday. Additional hours are planned once the system gets established, the port said.
This summer, the process will be launched at the Virginia International Gateway intermodal and on-dock rail facility, the port said.
Trucks arriving during the designated hours without a reservation will be turned away, the port said. Reservations can be made within a one-hour block. Drivers who reserve during the first hourly weekday block can arrive no earlier than 5: 30 a.m., the port said.
Trucker reservations systems are one of the digital tools expected to become more commonplace as North American ports strive to maintain an orderly flow of activity in the face of increasing container volumes and ramp-ups in port capacity to accommodate that growth. For example, NIT will experience a 46-percent annual increase in container capacity by 2020, the port has projected. This translates into capacity for an additional 400,000 containers a year, the port said. All of that means more truck activity, according to John Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA), the government agency that owns and operates the port.
"Creating consistency and efficiency in our delivery of service from hour to hour is the goal," Reinhart said in a statement. "We must prepare now for what is to come."
The port is in the midst of a $375 million expansion of the terminal's south berth, which includes a complete renovation of the berth's container-handling operation. The port has acquired 60 rail-mounted gantry cranes to support the effort.