QUEENSTON, Ont. — Starting this Monday morning, the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge will allow FAST-approved drivers and carriers to use the dedicated FAST lane to the border even if the shipment they’re carrying is not a C-TPAT load.
TodaysTrucking.com has learned that because of the lack of Canadian shippers signing up for the C-TPAT program in the four years since it was launched, the bridge authority and U.S. Customs officials will accept an Ontario Trucking Association proposal to allow FAST truckers to use the FAST lane from Hwy. 405 to the inspection booths whether or not the customer is a C-TPAT approved shipper.
The new policy kicks in at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge Monday Nov. 27th.
The OTA is reportedly close to similar agreements with the other three major Southern Ontario border crossing authorities at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Blue water Bridge in Sarnia, and Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge.
According to previous U.S. Homeland Security rules, shippers and trucking carriers are required to undergo C-TPAT security checks and employ FAST-approved drivers to enjoy the benefits of the binational border clearance program, including dedicated lanes to expedite border crossing.
The problem is that the shipping community is the one piece of the puzzle still missing after all these years, thereby voiding the ROI for carriers and drivers.
One trucking insider told TodaysTrucking.com, “you might as well wave the white flag when it comes to the shipper (and C-TPAT). It’s not happening.”
Other than the Big Three automakers, some of their suppliers, and a handful of very large international companies, shippers have lagged far behind their transport service providers in taking part of C-TPAT-FAST.
“Those that have gone through the process of gaining the privileges of (FAST) — and it is a process that involves a lot of work — we’re saying ‘you have the red carpet treatment, so to speak, and you will get to the front of the line,'” Brent Gallaugher, QLB manager of agency relations and security, said in an interview.
Originally, discussions surrounding the proposal involved giving the FAST lane privilege only to FAST carriers with ACE e-manifest capabilities. However, while e-manifest processing is still encouraged, officials are “just going with the driver and the carrier right now,” says Gallaugher, since all carriers will eventually have to transmit e-manifest data through the ACE portal in the near future.
Gallaugher says the border authority will conduct random checks on trucks in the FAST lane “to ensure that (they’re) supposed to be in the lane, and those that aren’t will be turned around and have to go to the end of the line.”
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