The Northwest Seaport Alliance Launches Cargo and Service Incentive Program in Seattle and Tacoma Harbors

NWSA Gateway

The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) is launching a comprehensive cargo and service incentive program aimed at bolstering international container rail cargo volumes and improving service delivery in the Seattle and Tacoma harbors. With a commitment of $11 million in incentives, the program aims to increase intermodal cargo volumes, promote vessel schedule reliability, and expand marine terminal operations.

Approved by the Managing Members on April 2nd, the incentives have been strategically designed in response to market demand and allocated to support specific points in the supply chain. Beginning May 1, the incentives will include the Voyage Consistency & On-Time Arrival Award Program, the International Container Rail Cargo Incentive, and a Gate Operations Incentive. 

Voyage Consistency & On-Time Arrival Award Program: In an effort to promote consistency and on-time performance, which have downstream benefits to cargo fluidity and capacity, the NWSA will reward ocean carriers for maintaining reliable voyage schedules. With a total reward pool of $1 million, the top three ocean carriers achieving the consistency standards of the program will be publicly recognized and may qualify for cash rewards ranging from $200,000 to $500,000.

International Container Rail Cargo Incentive: With an allocation of $8 million, this incentive aims to stimulate intermodal rail cargo traveling to/from inland U.S. markets. The NWSA will provide $100 per lift for incremental year-over-year rail volumes in our gateway. Intermodal cargo utilizing both BNSF and Union Pacific railroads is eligible, including cargo moving via inland rail hubs connected to the NWSA gateway.

Gate Operation Incentive: Acknowledging the critical role of gate operations in ensuring smooth cargo flow, enhanced trucker experience, and reduced impact to near-port communities, the NWSA will allocate $2 million to streamline terminal operations with five-day per week gates and extended gate hours. Marine terminals adhering to consistent gate hours and offering extended gate services will be eligible for funding.

Kristin Ang, Port of Tacoma Commission President and NWSA Co-Chair, emphasized the collaborative nature of the initiative, stating,

"The Northwest Seaport Alliance is committed to providing best-in-class service for shippers, which requires partnership across multiple supply chain stakeholders. By incentivizing increased rail cargo, on-time vessel performance, and marine terminal gate consistency, we can better serve our import and export customers and the local trucking community that utilizes our gateway.”

Hamdi Mohamed, Port of Seattle Commission President and NWSA Co-Chair shared,

"By targeting the incentives toward three key parts of the supply chain, we can drive increased cargo volumes, schedule reliability, and operational efficiency.  I was glad to sponsor an amendment that increased funding for the Gate Operation Incentive to total $2 Million as this is a key opportunity to support our trucking community with expanded gate hours and help alleviate local traffic implications near our marine terminals. Also, these additional dollars are crucial because we recognize that when terminals are closed, truckers face economic losses due to the inability to conduct business, leading to missed opportunities and income." 

This program builds upon the 2023 Rail Incentive Program, which generated over 54,000 lifts and represented 15% of international intermodal rail volume in 2023. When implementing the incentive program, the NWSA will closely monitor the program's performance and review its potential continuation in 2025.

For more information, please contact Steve Balaski,

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