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Slowing economy reflected in reduced Ontario-US traffic

TORONTO, Ont. -- The number of trucks crossing the Ontario-US border between January and September 2006 fell by ove...

TORONTO, Ont. — The number of trucks crossing the Ontario-US border between January and September 2006 fell by over 82,000 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the Bridge and Tunnel Operators Association.

The Ontario Trucking Association indicated that the drop in traffic provides further confirmation that the province’s economy which is so dependent upon the export of manufactured goods is feeling the effects of the high value of the Canadian dollar compared to the US greenback, competition from low cost manufacturing in China and a slowing US economy.

David Bradley, president of the OTA, whose industry hauls 80% of Ontario-US trade says, “the trucking industry is a good bellwether of economic activity and the current picture is not pretty.”

“Most of what is produced in Ontario is for export to the US and a lot of that traffic has dried up over the last year or so,” he added.

In addition to fewer trucks crossing the border, more than 150,000 fewer cars and almost 40,000 fewer buses and other vehicles crossed the border at the 11 Ontario-US crossings in the January-September period.

According to Bradley, the reduction in border traffic may have eased truck congestion at some of the border crossings, but people need to understand that this is not because the borders have become more efficient; it is because car and truck traffic is down.

“The border continues to thicken, and we have despite the reduction in traffic continued to see unacceptable southbound delays at some of the busiest crossings,” says Bradley. “More and more red tape and cost is being thrust onto cross-border trade supposedly in the name of security; little urgency is being given to much-needed short-term infrastructure and resource enhancements; there seems to be no long-term investment plan to ensure we’ll have the infrastructure in place to support future trade when we need it; and, we continue to be frustrated by complacency on the part of the people whose goods we deliver to ensure their companies and their freight are designated as secure.”

“The province’s future economic success is still indelibly linked to whether the border facilitates or impedes trade. It is now more important than ever that we get it right,” he said.

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