Pilot Program to Improve Border Times

SARNIA, ON. — The Beyond the Border Action Plan, announced jointly last year by the Harper and Obama administration, has perhaps taken its first step in improving conditions at the border for truckers.

As part of a new pilot program at the Blue Water Bridge, carriers and shippers will need to be either Partners in Protection (PIP) or Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) approved — not both, as is currently required.

This pilot program, said the Canadian Trucking Association (CTA) in a statement, will bring Canadian requirements in line with U.S. requirements, and will hopefully create more traffic in the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes, improving efficiency at the border.

The announcement came on Friday, when officials from the CTA, the Canadian Border Services Agency, Blue Water Bridge, and technology company blueRover [sic], announced the launch of the pilot program — part of the Border Plan.

The CTA said that they had long pushed for changes to Canada’s FAST program, specifically changes that would benefit trusted traders, by aligning requirements for elgilbility more with those of the United States.

“We fully expect the pilot will show that we can qualify more trucks for FAST usage,” said Deanna Pagnan of CTA.

Carriers participating in the pilot met eligibility requirements including Trusted Trader status, sufficient freight at Blue Water Bridge and ability to ascertain Trusted Trader status of their importers, CTA said. Carriers in the pilot are also submitting ACI eManifests, allowing them to benefit from even faster clearance at the border.

The trial period will monitor 1,400 trucks from across Ontario and Quebec.

The CTA has collected pre-pilot traffic data at the border to measure the length of time it takes to cross the bridge and clear customs in order to compare it to traffic conditions under the pilot. Technology donated by blueRover will collect and compare the traffic data.

As it currently stands, in order to use FAST lanes for shipments into Canada, requirements are placed on drivers crossing the border, the carriers responsible for moving the freight, and the freight itself. Drivers must have either a FAST card or Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP) card, and the carriers must be members of both PIP and CSA programs.

Conversely in the U.S., FAST participation requires that the drivers hold a FAST card, but carriers and shippers need only participate in one security program — Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT).

“While the industry agrees greater participation in Trusted Trader programs by the importer community is necessary, this is an encouraging step to facilitate efficient movement of freight between Canada and the US,” Pagan commented.

Six-thousand commercial vehicles cross the Blue Water Bridge daily, making it Canada’s second-busiest international commercial crossing for trucks and the third busiest for total vehicles. Border delays cost Canada’s economy between $15-billion and $30- billion a year.

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