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Niagara region bridge authorities seek improvements to NEXUS

WASHINGTON – The agencies that run Western New York’s bridges to Canada Tuesday pressed the U.S. and Canadian governments to dramatically bolster the NEXUS trusted-traveler program, saying that doing so could eliminate border wait times.

The leaders of the Peace Bridge Authority and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission noted that NEXUS, which allows preapproved travelers to easily pass through designated bridge lanes, handled a record number of border crossings last year: 1.6 million. That amounts to 17 percent of the region’s border crossings.

But in a letter to the U.S. and Canadian officials that oversee the border, the local bridge officials said the program could be more successful. They argued that if 50 percent of border crossers used the program, border wait times would be eliminated.

“There is still so much potential to further decrease wait times and increase security by expanding enrollment to an even greater level,” said Linda McAusland, who chairs the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.

McAusland and Sam Hoyt, chairman of the Peace Bridge Authority, spelled out a series of suggestions in their letter. They said U.S. and Canadian officials should:

  • Extend the period that NEXUS cards are valid from five years to 10 years.
  • Modernize and simplify the Global Online Enrollment System where people enroll for NEXUS.
  • Reduce the processing time for new applicants so that they don’t have to wait three or four months for the interview that is required as part of the process.
  • Allow interviews of new applicants to be conducted by either U.S. or Canadian border officials.
  • Ensure that the U.S. and Canadian border agencies continuously monitor NEXUS booth staffing to make sure that bridge lanes are open when needed and to make sure that NEXUS lines are not longer than those at regular bridge lanes.

McAusland and Hoyt sent their letter to the U.S. secretary of homeland security, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Canadian minister of public safety and the president of the Canada Border Services Agency.

In addition to seeking reforms to the program, the two bridge authorities also plan to start a marketing blitz aimed at attracting more participants to the program.

“NEXUS is the best form of border-crossing identification for travelers in Western New York and Southern Ontario,” Hoyt said. “The program is a simple and cost-effective way to expedite and simplify the border-crossing experience.”

Peace Bridge establishes 24/7 Nexus lane for travelers heading into Canada

 

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