PRPA Announces Availability of State-Sponsored Intermodal Incentive Program to Encourage Container Activity at the Port of Philadelphia

Port Also Reports Big Gains in Initial 2015 Cargo Activity

The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) is pleased to announce that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is now inviting shipping lines to participate in its new Intermodal Cargo Growth Incentive Program, which aims to increase cargo activity at the Port of Philadelphia. The program will offer a per-container financial incentive to current ocean carriers utilizing the Port. The program, recently announced by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, is effective immediately.

The program offers a $25 per-container financial incentive to current ocean carriers utilizing the Port of Philadelphia, for any new containers moved beyond a carrier’s previously-reported container levels. It is hoped that carriers will be encouraged to try the Port of Philadelphia as a result of the incentive. The program was established through PennDOT’s Multimodal Transportation Fund, following consultation between PennDOT, PRPA officials, and other Philadelphia-area maritime businesses. Similar intermodal incentive programs have been effective in the past at the Port of Philadelphia, and PRPA is pleased about its new funding relationship with PennDOT.

“This new intermodal incentive program is an effective tool to grow our container business, and a fair one, as it rewards both our current customers as well as new carriers who have been considering using the Port of Philadelphia,” said PRPA Executive Director James T. McDermott, Jr. “It’s a solid investment on the part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as increased container business brings so many economic benefits to our region.”

By encouraging companies to move more cargo through the Port of Philadelphia, PennDOT expects that this new program will attract at least 200,000 new annual container moves to the Port over the course of five years.

In his own announcement about the program, Governor Wolf said: “Pennsylvania has a robust transportation system and our ports are a vital part of the movement of goods. The Port of Philadelphia is an important asset for the Commonwealth’s entire economy.  These incentives will help increase activity at the Port, which will drive commerce across Pennsylvania and could create more than 1,400 good-paying jobs.”

It is widely known that ocean carriers control discretionary cargo, report PRPA officials. These cargoes, destined from or to places like Chicago, are a target of this program. More steamship line services also create more export opportunities for Pennsylvania manufacturers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Multimodal Transportation Fund, established by Commonwealth Act 89, includes dedicated budget categories for aviation, rail freight, ports, and other transportation-related projects.

Rules and further details on the program are available from PRPA’s Marketing Department and from PennDOT at www.dot.state.pa.us.

The PRPA Marketing Department can be contacted at (215) 426-2600 or via e-mail at marketing@philaport.com.

PRPA has high hopes that PennDOT’s cargo incentive program will deliver big results at the Port of Philadelphia, especially in light of the fact that initial cargo figures for 2015, as well as statistics for the prior year, demonstrate that cargo growth is already healthy at the Port. Final cargo statistics for 2014 revealed a 16 percent increase in cargo and the fifth consecutive year of double-digit cargo growth at the Port compared to 2013, and the following figures, comparing January 2015’s cargo performance to January 2014’s performance, indicate that the trend of growth is continuing.

With 481,251 metric tons of cargo handled at PRPA facilities in January 2015, compared to the 418,434 tons of cargo handled in January 2014, there was a notable 15.01 percent increase in tonnage between the two periods. This was due to increases in all cargo sectors, especially in liquid bulk, ro/ro, and containerized cargoes.

132,919 tons of liquid bulk cargoes moved through the Port of Philadelphia in January 2015 compared to the 94,759 tons handled in January 2014, a 40.27 percent increase.

On the ro/ro front, 20,349 metric tons of automobiles (13,937 individual units) moved through the Port in January 2015 compared to the 18,768 tons (13,224 individual units) that moved the Port in January 2014, an 8.42 percent tonnage increase.

When counted as individual units- 32,270 TEUs handled in January 2015 versus the 31,918 TEUs handled in January 2014- container counts were up 1.10 percent. When counted as tonnage, however, containerized cargo was up a more dramatic 11.27 percent, with 220,300 metric tons of containerized cargo handled in January 2015 compared to the 197,978 tons handled during the same period last year.

In the breakbulk sector, with 107,683 tons metric tons handled in January 2015 compared to the 106,929 tons handled during the same period last year, breakbulk cargoes overall held steady when comparing the two periods, experiencing about a 1 percent increase. Several individual breakbulk cargoes, however, showed strong growth when comparing January 2015 with January 2014.

Strong performers among the Port’s breakbulk cargoes included forest products, which were up 17.33 percent (35,622 tons handled in January 2015 versus the 30,360 tons handled in January 2014) and project cargoes, up 110.37 percent (3,389 tons handled in January 2015 versus the 1,611 tons handled in January 2014). Cocoa beans also increased dramatically, with 21,873 tons arriving at the Port of Philadelphia in January 2015 compared to the 3,928 tons arriving in January 2014.

“We’re very proud of the 15 percent increase in cargo we experienced at the start of this year compared to the start of last year,” said Mr. McDermott. “While it is still very early in the year, these initial cargo figures demonstrate that a very productive 2015 is on the horizon at the Port of Philadelphia. Our agency works every day with our terminal operators, with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and with all sectors of the maritime community to make this the most efficient, productive port it can be, and these initial numbers show we’re on the right track.”