An upcoming pilot project which would automatically collect border-crossing fees from commercial trucks travelling to the U.S. at the Peace Bridge will reportedly reduce wait times by 6.5 percent.
According to the Buffalo News, the automated system would be used to collect the US$13.05 user fee that truck operators who do not have an annual user fee decal currently pay by hand at the border. The system – which could possibly take the form of a mobile app – is expected to reduce the backups of trucks on the Buffalo/Fort Erie, Ont. bridge, officials say.
CBP said the new automated user fee collection system will be implemented in a pilot project in Buffalo this year and will also eventually be tested at border crossings in Detroit and El Paso, Texas, before being implemented nationwide in 2017.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security made the announcement in a document it sent to Congress accompanying President Obama’s Fiscal 2017 budget proposal.
The manual collection of user fees is inefficient, the budget document said. “The current manual process results in increased wait times and fuel costs for carriers and loss of work hours for CBP. For example, at the Port of Buffalo in FY 2015, approximately 1,700 work hours were spent performing cash collections,” which took an average of 80 to 90 seconds per vehicle.
Ron Rienas, the general manager of the Peace Bridge Authority, told the newspaper that the cumulative impact of the new system will have a positive impact on border congestion and wait times.
The new fee-collection system will be the latest of several major upgrades that Customs and Border Protection initiated after a pre-clearance pilot project unveiled out-of-date technology at the Peace Bridge.
CBP has already upgraded its “outdated” radiation detectors and is moving to fix its slow internet connection, which slowed processing.