Three cities selected for border crossing fee auto-collection pilot program

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 2/18/2016

Three ports of entry in the United States have been selected for pilot programs to reduce wait time for commercial vehicles at border crossings, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed to Land Line. The cities of Buffalo, Detroit and El Paso will implement automated collection of truck fees at any bridge that handles commercial traffic.

Truckers crossing the border must pay a CBP user fee. Although many truckers take part in the Decal and Transponder Online Procurement System to speed up the process, many others have to pay the $13.05 fee by hand. Collection of fees by hand has resulted in congestion at border crossings.

To address wait times for commercial vehicles at border crossings, President Obama called for the use of an automated user fee collection system in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget for the Department of Homeland Security, according to a press release from U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y. Following the pilot programs in Buffalo, Detroit and El Paso, the automated system is expected to go nationwide during FY 2017.

A CBP spokesperson noted that the new system will allow truckers to pay the fee for single crossings online. A smartphone application will also be available. CBP declined to offer further details on the automated collection system, including what technology will be used to enforce the fees at the ports.

According to the DHS budget, “in FY 2015 approximately 1,700 work hours were spent performing cash collections (each commercial truck inspection took an average of 80-90 seconds per vehicle)” at the Port of Buffalo. Approximately $774,000 was collected in user fees, about 7.6 percent of trucks. An automated system could reduce processing times by 6.5 percent and increase throughput by 5.5 percent in Buffalo, according to the budget.

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