Like motorists, pedestrians crossing the border at all four El Paso international bridges are experiencing longer crossing times. For example, 550,000 people crossed the border by foot just in the first quarter of 2014.
This high volume of pedestrians means longer lines for security checks as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel process documents to allow entrance into El Paso. To make matters worse, indoor facilities can’t house all the pedestrians, meaning people are often lined up outside waiting to be processed, exposed to the heat, cold, or other bad weather.
I and other researchers with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research (CIITR) would like to make things easier and faster for pedestrians and bicyclists.
We are just in the concept stage of the project right now, but we are making some progress following a comprehensive literature review that examined the entrance procedures at international inspection check points for pedestrians, bicyclists, passenger cars, and cargo vehicles.
Ideally, a phone application could be tied into information supplied by the CBP to tell travelers current information like processing times, how many people are waiting, and perhaps historical data related to the best times to cross. We envision similar data for pedestrians that’s already available for motorists.
Perhaps the information could be used in conjunction with current CBP Trusted Traveler Programs designed to expedite travel for pre-approved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks.
The technology exists that could make this happen. But security is a major issue. We’ve already reached out to the CBP and other stakeholders for meetings on this subject. Our goal in making pedestrian travel safer, more efficient and faster requires we first understand the concerns of CBP. We will certainly let you know of our progress.