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Potential Benefits Of FAST Membership Mounting

OTTAWA, Ont. - While the importance of being FAST accredited appears to be increasing, the trucking industry is being slow to catch on.Numbers obtained from U.S. Homeland Security show that just 339 c...


GETTING THERE FASTER: Time spent waiting in border lineups can be reduced by becoming a FAST-approved carrier.
GETTING THERE FASTER: Time spent waiting in border lineups can be reduced by becoming a FAST-approved carrier.

OTTAWA, Ont. – While the importance of being FAST accredited appears to be increasing, the trucking industry is being slow to catch on.

Numbers obtained from U.S. Homeland Security show that just 339 carriers (out of 360 applications) have been approved for FAST accreditation for goods moving into the U.S. On the Canadian side, a total of 119 carriers have been approved for goods moving into Canada, out of 295 who applied.

Meanwhile, in the joint Canada/U.S. FAST program for drivers, 24,931 drivers have applied so far and 5,784 have been approved. According to Customs and Border Protection officials, no less than 2,000 have not even showed up for their FAST interviews. This, despite the fact that, according to a U.S. Homeland Security study included in the new prenotification proposal, no less than 22,000 individual truck “entities” (companies or independent O/Os) currently traverse the Canada/U.S. border.

The relatively low number of carriers and drivers who have registered for FAST would seem to indicate the importance of getting FAST registered has not yet sunk in.

But it better sink in, and soon.

Not only do the newly proposed prenotification rules allow FAST registered carriers to arrive with less advance notice at the border (30 minutes instead of an hour), the FAST program is recognized as part of interim measures to serve while the U.S. sets up a new electronic reporting system to correspond more directly to the needs of the trucking industry.

And the potential benefits of FAST membership don’t stop there. The Canadian Trucking Alliance has been lobbying for FAST membership to qualify Canadian drivers to transport hazardous materials down south, as well as stand in as the equivalent of the new Transportation Worker’s Identity card (TWIC) to be required of U.S. drivers at some point in the future.

The good news is U.S. Homeland Security officials think both are ideas worth considering, at least according to a recent Ontario Trucking Association newsletter.

Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “likes the suggestion from the Canadian Trucking Alliance that the Free And Secure Trade card process be used for security credentialing of Canadian truck drivers required by other U.S. programs such as cross-border movements of hazardous materials and the Transportation Worker Identity Card presently under development…,” says an OTA newsletter.

The newsletter reports that in a letter to CTA CEO David Bradley, Hutchinson states one of his department’s objectives “is to build on the success of credentialing programs like Free And Secure Trade (FAST) and in furtherance of this objective, your recommendation to utilize the FAST process for cross-border security credentialing merits additional consideration…”

Bradley, for his part says he looks forward to working with the U.S. Homeland Security department and the Canadian government on the issue. Bradley and Hutchinson have met twice in recent months at events where both were speaking on border issues.

In the meantime, carriers and drivers bringing goods into the U.S. had better get their you-know-whats in gear, say insiders.

“I think it’s safe to say that those who are not FAST-certified are going to find (crossing the border) slow,” says CTA senior vice-president Graham Cooper.

An official with U.S. Homeland Security painted an even grimmer picture.

“If there was another terrorist attack on the U.S. – those who don’t have FAST cards could find themselves shut out,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.


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