New report offers proposals to cut border delays by 18 minutes
Congressman Brian Higgins said the Department of Homeland Security should change two policies that could reduce wait times for trucks by 81 percent during peak travel season, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection report.
"Every minute a commercial vehicle is delayed on the bridge is costing companies, jobs and our economy," Higgins said. "And truck congestion causes delays for travelers and consumers. Let's open the floodgates of northern border commerce today."
Earlier this week, CBP released a study of truck wait times during the pre-inspection pilot program at the Peace Bridge. According to the report, wait times could be cut dramatically if CBP simply prohibits trucks from paying fees with cash and requires shippers to file electronic manifests ahead of time. The study found these policies could be implemented in under two years at a cost of just $1 million, and would reduce the average wait time during peak travel season from 22.3 minutes to just 4.2 minutes. During non-peak times, the average wait would be reduced from 7 minutes to 1.7 minutes.
During peak travel season, only 77 percent of trucks at the Peace Bridge experience wait times of under 30 minutes. By making these two changes, 100 percent of trucks would have wait times of under 30 minutes, and 96 percent under 15 minutes.
During peak congestion, the improved flow of commercial traffic can be expected to have the ancillary benefit of reducing the wait times for passenger vehicles. Higgins said making Peace Bridge wait times more predictable for passenger vehicle traffic is important to sustaining the Western New York retail economy, sports franchises and cultural institutions.
Higgins noted that, although the Peace Bridge was the test site, the efficiencies identified can and should be implemented across the northern border, adding, "These are common-sense reforms that we can move on now. For once, we don't need to find the funding or wait for endless reviews. I commend CBP for identifying this opportunity to reduce congestion, and I urge it to move expeditiously so that these policies are in place within a year."
Higgins is a member of the House committees on homeland security and foreign affairs. His district includes the Peace Bridge. In February, Higgins wrote to the Homeland Security secretary suggesting the department take swift action to implement efficiencies at the northern border learned through the pre-inspection pilot project. In March, Higgins joined U.S. and Canadian leaders for the historic signing of a preclearance agreement as part of the Beyond the Border Initiative.