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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Summary of Member Votes on Recommendations

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Working Group (WG) member votes received as of 11/28/16 = 27 (77% of all WG members)           

Total number of WG members = 35



Recommendation (as worded in draft presented for review in  11/18 WG meeting)

% Yes out of Total Votes Received


BTS should use the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) data to generate top 25 port lists by TEU, tonnage, and dry bulk. WCSC data should be used because they are publicly available and provide a nationally consistent source of information for all three lists. The WCSC relies on legislative enactments of Federal, State, county, or city governments to define port limits.




BTS should provide technical notes alongside the top 25 port lists to emphasize that the composition of the lists is subject to change as data are updated




BTS should conduct further analysis of the national utility of capacity metrics. These metrics are most meaningful as a way for ports to compare their own performance over time. Determining appropriate national-level capacity metrics is challenging, given the wide variance in ports’ physical infrastructure, cargo moved, and other characteristics. This might require additional resources in the longer-term.




BTS should clarify in the first PPFSP Annual Report, at a minimum, that port capacity (and throughput) are influenced by many factors (e.g., seasonal fluxes in trade, levels of investment, types of cargo moved, presence of intermodal connectors), some of which are within the port’s control and many of which are not.




In the absence of nationally consistent information on capacity metrics for port performance, BTS should identify capacity proxies in the first Annual Report. It is recommended that:

I.            As one of the capacity proxies, the PPFSP should use USACE data to identify maximum authorized channel depth and maximum actual (or current) channel depth at ports, at a minimum. BTS should also develop a nationally consistent definition for what “current” means and what are limiting factors to serving larger vessels.

II.            BTS should consider in future reports collecting and reporting on bridge height clearance (aka air draft) data as a proxy for more direct measures of a factor limiting port capacity because of containership oversize.

III.            BTS should conduct additional analyses of container yard design capacity metrics. These should not be reported in the PPFSP’s first Annual Report to Congress.




BTS should use annual TEUs as a core throughput metric for containers. Annual TEUs should include both loaded and empty containers, since the effort to move a container is expended regardless of whether it is full or empty.




BTS should use short tons as a core throughput metric for dry bulk and other tonnage.




BTS should conduct further analysis to consider including the following in future Annual Reports of the Program:

i.            Quarterly or seasonal trade data  

ii.            Value of domestic cargo moving through ports 

iii.            Revenue TEUs

iv.            Rail throughput metrics 

v.            Modes used (e.g., rail, truck, barge, etc.) to bring goods to or from a ports (for both volume and tonnage)




For the PPFSP Annual Reports, BTS should:

i.            Include data on the latest year available. If or when comparing latest year to previous years’ data, BTS should add context about historic events that may have influenced the data trends (e.g., economic recession, natural disasters). 

ii.            Conduct further analysis to assess whether moving averages or longer-term trends could be included along with data from the latest year.

iii.            Include metrics limited to those that assess performance issues that are within a port’s control; additional analysis could be done to examine whether other issues should be addressed (e.g., vessel on-time performance).




BTS should further analyze whether data collected more frequently than an annual basis would have national utility and should be included in future Annual Reports.




BTS should consider how to make any data collected as part of the Port Performance Freight Statistics Program more widely accessible, such as through an online tool or resource. However any information shared electronically should not be presented in real-time.




If the port industry is in the future required to provide information to BTS on a regular basis, BTS in coordination with the appropriate Federal agencies (e.g., Office of Management and Budget) should consider how to limit burdens on industry. Specifically BTS should conduct further analysis to assess:

i.             What funding sources may be available to support any potential future industry data collection, compilation, or analysis efforts

ii.           Which entities (e.g., port authorities, terminal operators) should be responsible for collecting and reporting data to BTS

iii.          Whether and how existing resources, such as electronic databases used in trade and commerce activities, could be used to facilitate potential availability of future data compilation/reporting by industry. Examples of such databases include the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s International Trade Data System or Automated Commercial Environment. Any electronic database used should not present data in real-time.




BTS should consider including in the PPFSP Annual Reports a series of “spotlight” issues to provide general context for trends that may affect port capacity/throughput but for which there is currently no nationally consistent data. Examples of spotlight issues could include:

i.            Availability of container chassis and truck parking

ii.            Connectivity of ports to other modes outside the gate (e.g., via road, rail, barge) 

iii.            Pipeline connectivity

iv.            Transport of hazardous materials

v.            Federal/state port funding support

vi.            International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) enforcement




BTS should conduct further analysis to assess the national utility of additional performance-related metrics and potential approaches for developing nationally consistent datasets that are useful for assessing port performance. Examples of these metrics could include:

i.            Truck-turn times

ii.           Road/rail connectivity

iii.         Rail and truck throughput

iv.          Vessel Dwell time




BTS should consider expanding the membership of the current Working Group to include additional port and industry stakeholders that could expand the Working Group’s expertise, should this group continue to meet after submitting its recommendations to BTS in December 2016.




BTS should identify approaches for developing nationally consistent data definitions and standards that would be useful in assessing port performance. This might involve convening another working group to advise BTS.