October 22, 2020: Becker LLC’s Joseph G. Harraka, Jr. interviews Lisa Yakomin, President of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers, discussing the Current State of the Trucking & Logistics Industry
Harraka: The Port of NY & NJ seemed to fare better than other ports in the U.S. when it came to handling operational challenges caused by the pandemic, despite being at the epicenter of the crisis early on. In August and September, NY/NJ set an all-time record for container volumes. To what do you attribute this success? Yakomin: There’s no doubt that our port community here demonstrated an impressive level of resiliency in the face of enormous adversity, and I think a large part of the credit goes to the leadership in the Port Department at the Port Authority. The Port of NY & NJ has experienced extraordinary challenges in the past, such as the World Trade Center attack on 9/11/01 and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Those crises led us to establish a strong foundation of open communication amongst port stakeholders through groups like the Council on Port Performance, which includes representatives from all facets of the supply chain. Once the State of Emergency was declared because of the coronavirus, the PANYNJ acted quickly to increase the frequency of CPP meetings, and added another weekly meeting for port stakeholders to share information and resources.
This high level of communication right from the start enabled us to react quickly when the COVID crisis hit, and address issues proactively before they reached critical mass. The intermodal trucking community had full visibility on what the marine terminals, shipping lines, equipment providers, longshoremen, warehouses, and cargo owners were experiencing, and vice versa, and that enabled us to coordinate our response efforts in a way that helped everyone address these challenges simultaneously, and assist one another as needed. As a result, we were able to stay open for business throughout the crisis, ride out the worst of it, and come back even stronger.
Harraka: Take out your crystal ball, how will the Pandemic reshape the future of the transportation industry, and what changes have occurred that you see becoming permanent in the post-Pandemic operating industry environment?