ATA asks feds to give truckers a break from passport rule

WASHINGTON — American truckers are lobbying the Bush Administration to exempt truck drivers from the upcoming requirement for travelers to carry a passport when entering the U.S.

Speaking on behalf of the American Trucking Associations before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, Kenneth Staub Jr., vice-president of flatbed carrier Riverside Service Corp., said the government should provide flexibility for commercial drivers in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which allows only travelers — including Americans — with passports or alternative documentation to enter the country.

The ATA joins the battle to exempt
truckers from US passport mandate

Staub said the additional process and expense of acquiring a passport could dissuade commercial truck drivers from transporting between the U.S. and its two largest trading partners. Passports also would duplicate existing government-issued identification for commercial truck drivers and security documentation, Staub added.

The ATA has joined its Canadian counterpart in urging the government to consider certain existing federal credentials in lieu of passports, such as Free and Secure Trade (FAST) IDs, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), and other appropriate government issued identifications and screening programs.

“While trucking has worked with various government agencies on security for cross-border trade, it is important to recognize that security and trade facilitation go hand in hand,” said Staub, whose Buffalo-based truckload carrier firm along with sister company Black Rock Trucking Inc. deliver freight to and from Canada regularly.

The Canadian trucking Alliance insists the proposed security measures could exasperate current delays at the border and intensify the long list of costs already being absorbed by truckers.

With at least 70,000 Canadian truck drivers crossing the border every year, and tens of thousands more American drivers crossing between both countries, CTA fears the delays could bring the border to a standstill and stunt trade since thousands of current drivers don’t have passports.

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