By Don Ford

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The Port of Oakland says it’s a lot better than it used to be now that an experimental night operation is now permanent.

“This benefits everybody. Truck drivers can come in from 6pm to 3am to pick up or drop off cargo. Cargo owners now have twice as much opportunity to get their containers,” Port of Oakland Communications Director Mike Zampa said.

The expanded schedule brings Oakland in line to compete directly with Long Beach Harbor and, according to the Port of Oakland, is only the third in the nation to have what are called “night gates.” Oakland says during the last three months’ night gate trial, 1,300 container operations moved from day to night.

“Another key is that they came up with an appointment system so drivers aren’t waiting hours and hours on the street. Now with an appointment system, they can get in and out in a reasonable amount of time,” Scott Taylor with GSC Logistics said.

“It’s good for somebody who waits in line for a few hours and then they have to, you know, instead of going back empty, they can at least get it in and go home,” truck driver Harjit Singh said.

The port says nearly 75-percent of all cargo owners are now using both day and night operations.

And, as with most things in the world of professional shipping, there’s a price to be paid. Every container processed through the port is now assessed a $30 fee in order to fund the night gate operations.