SURREY, B.C. – Truckers in B.C. voiced their concerns to the U.S. government about the possible "dilution of FAST lane privileges" at the Pacific Highway border crossing.
In the spring, U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened up the FAST lane to all southbound commercial traffic in an attempt to reduce wait times at the busy Washington border.
So far, the program has shown to reduce lengthy delays.
However, the B.C. Trucking Association is concerned the policy negates all the benefits of FAST for carriers and penalizes those that have already invested substantial resources to participate.
In June, BCTA staff met with US and Canadian border officials to discuss a compromise solution that would maintain FAST benefits for participating carriers.
At the meeting, border officials assured BCTA that FAST shipments continue to receive preferential treatment once they arrive at the primary inspection booth and referred for secondary examination.
CBP also confirmed that all three primary inspection booths are open earlier to help clear a backlog that quickly builds up in the morning and open as late as 6 p.m. if truck volume warrants.
BCTA has asked that the current criteria for FAST lane use be modified to allow FAST/C-TPAT carriers and a FAST driver to transport goods from non-C-TPAT importers – "thus making FAST membership more desirable for less-than-truckload carriers."
As well, the association would like to see incentives for shippers and importers to join FAST; reducing the number of secondary inspections for FAST/C-TPAT carriers;? improved movement for trucks proceeding for VACIS scanning; installing automatic plate readers to allow FAST trucks to proceed without stopping, if secondary inspections aren’t required; and eliminating the charge for FAST driver cards and transponder fees for FAST/C-TPAT carriers.
Among other options, reports BCTA, US Customs is considering an alternate lane reconfiguration that would maintain a FAST approach lane via 2nd Avenue but without a dedicated FAST primary inspection booth.
Meanwhile, CBP also announced at the meeting it plans to replace one of the three primary inspection booths at Pacific Highway this fall.
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