Port Elizabeth Intermodal Complex, Port of New York / New Jersey

Port Elizabeth Intermodal Complex, Port of New York / New Jersey

Source: Base map from Google Earth.

The Port Elizabeth intermodal complex is part of the facilities of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This is where in 1956, containerization began. The complex comprises two major terminals; Maher Terminal (acquired by the German financial firm RREEF in 2007 and sold to Macquarie Infrastructure in 2016) and APM Terminal (a branch of Maersk shipping company). Maher Terminal is the largest intermodal port terminal on the North American East Coast with an annual capacity of about 2.4 million TEU. From 1998, it went through a series of substantial renovations, including the combination of two terminals (Maher Fleet Street Terminal and Maher Tripoli Street Terminal) into one, a process that was completed in 2004. In 2008, gate renovations were completed, making it one of the most efficient in North America and handling 10,000 movements per day. Both terminals are adjacent to an on-dock rail facility expanded to 18 tracks in 2007 (serviced by CSX, NS, and CP). It is worth noting that the Maher gate complex takes about three times more space than the APM gate complex.

 Maher TerminalAPM Terminal
Area180 hectares142 hectares
Piers10,000 feet6,000 feet
Portainers16 portainers (9 super post panamax)15 portainers (9 super post panamax)
Capacity2,400,000 TEU1,300,000 TEU
Reefer slots9901,275
StackingStraddle-carriersRTG

Maher Terminal also undertook investments in information technologies, notably an entirely paperless gate system, a terminal management system, an empty container storage system using GPS, and a chassis pool. For the later, Maher was one of the first terminal operators to establish an off-site chassis pool. Initially, chassis pools were for the terminal users since they represented a captive market. But as vessel-sharing agreements have grown over the years, Maher’s customers began calling other facilities, such as the adjacent APM Terminal, so it became critical to locate the equipment pool outside the gates. This also conveyed the benefit of freeing terminal space and thus expanding capacity.

Both terminal operators have different terminal management strategies for their container yards. While Maher uses straddle carriers to move containers between stacking piles, APM uses overhead rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTGs). The disadvantage of using straddle carriers is a lower stacking density since only two containers can be stacked, which is related to more space consumption by the stacking piles. The advantage is a faster average container retrieval. Therefore, one must be cautious about linking terminal efficiency and stacking density since lower density can be linked with a terminal design aiming at high throughput. Looking at the gate system and the stacking configuration clearly underlines the trucking orientation of the Maher terminal. The advantages of RTG are a higher stacking density and a higher utilization level of the terminal’s real estate assets. However, container retrieval can be longer and would involve more re-handles.

Adjacent to the terminals and chassis pools are also several transloading facilities that are transferring the contents of maritime containers into domestic containers (and vice versa). These activities are mostly for cargo bound further inland since local cargo tends to be brought to the distribution center directly from the maritime terminal.