Line of freight trucks exiting a port for drayage services

What Is Drayage?

What Is Drayage?

Drayage workers managing cargo shipments

Every day, goods shipments make their way across the ocean, land and air. Once those shipments arrive at the port, rail station or airport, their journey often isn't over. They must reach their intended destination, such as a store or warehouse.

That's where drayage comes into play. Drayage is the transportation of goods over a short distance, usually from ports to their next destination. Drayage plays an important role in the supply chain, ensuring goods reach their destinations on time.

How to Define Drayage

Several definitions of drayage exist. Generally, port drayage means the transport of freight from an ocean port to another destination that's a short distance away. The second destination can be the freight's ultimate destination, such as a store, or an intermediary stop, such as a warehouse.

Drayage is often the first domino in a chain. If things don't go as planned and the first domino doesn't fall as it should, processes can get disrupted further down the supply chain. Shipments can face delays and products might not reach store shelves on time.

How Does Drayage Work?

Drayage connects modes of transport. When a shipment arrives at a port, drayage trucks greet it. The crew loads the goods onto trucks and transports them to the next place. Drayage can bring freight to:

  • A second port.
  • A second form of transport, such as a rail yard or airport.
  • A warehouse.
  • A store.

Drayage can also bring goods from port to port or transport goods to different locations within a single transport hub.

Drayage trucks must be on time to ensure goods are unloaded efficiently and to prevent perishable items from spoiling.

Why Is It Called Drayage?

While modern-day drayage involves motorized trucks, the term evolved from “dray,” which means cart. A dray was a sideless cart pulled by large, strong horses, also known as draft horses. Since dray or draft horses had physical limitations and couldn't pull heavy carts for great distances, they were only used to transport goods for short lengths. Dray horses and carts were usually found in ports, rail terminals and along canals.

Eventually, trucks replaced the horses and carts. While trucks can travel further than the standard horse, drayage is still used for short-haul trips.

Drayage port workers counting cargo containers

Work With Dr. Drayage

Dr. Drayage specializes in drayage trucking and logistics along the West Coast. If you need drayage services in Los Angeles, Long Beach or another location on the West Coast, contact us for a quote today.