Evaluating El Paso’s Reimbursable Fee to Determine Cost-Benefit for Reducing Border Wait Times
In recent years, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staffing struggled to keep pace with the rapid increase of cargo and passenger crossing traffic at El Paso border crossings. To help supplement these needs, the U.S. Congress provides funds directly to the Department of Homeland Security to establish public-private partnerships (P3s) with the private sector and state and local governments. The goal is to reduce border wait times (BWTs) which, in turn, encourages continued economic growth in Mexico and the United States. Over two years, researchers with the Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research Center (CIITR) research project evaluated one of the first-of-its-kind public-private partnership (P3) between the City of El Paso and CBP. Researchers looked at the Ysleta-Zaragoza, Paso Del Norte (PDN), and Stanton Street crossings to determine the cost-benefit ratio of El Paso’s increasing bridge crossing tolls at specific times and at specific rates to fund the additional CBPOs. CIITR researchers found that the P3 is working as designed, providing economic benefit as corroborated by the city’s recent publications, which identify economic gains resulting from reductions in BWT and commercial shipping costs thanks to the additional staff. The agreement has also yielded closer working relationships between the city and CBP through the use of mutually agreed-upon real-time data sharing, metrics, and objectives. El Paso is using lessons learned with CBP to fine-tune the scheduling of additional CBPOs facilitate cross-border traffic, thereby reducing BWTs. The city has extended its agreement with CBP and is currently sharing lessons learned with other POEs in the United States and Mexico.
For more information contact Alfredo Sanchez at (915) 521-8111 of [email protected].
Economic Costs of Critical Infrastructure Failure in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez Region
Cross-border trade with Mexico forms the backbone of economic growth in the United States. The interdependence of U.S. national and global transportation supply chains means that any kind of disruption in one supply chain can have a significant impact on the chains it connects to. The specific objectives of this study were to: develop and calibrate a simulation-based dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) model for the binational region and to assess the effect of a critical infrastructure failure; determine the traffic impact on the border region after the transportation infrastructure closure, specifically, at POEs; and analyze the economic consequences of disruptions to the critical infrastructure using the DTA model developed. In addition to developing the model, TTI derived a method to link the DTA modeling method to a cargo diversion method for analyzing the economic costs of a critical transportation infrastructure failure. The research team developed an assessment of costs based on connections between origin-destination pairs for three major trip types: base case, short term, and long term. While both regions stand to lose economically, it is a given that these costs will ripple not only across the El Paso–Juarez bi-national region, but also to the main trading partner regions across the United States. However, the El Paso region has more to lose financially. To minimize these kinds of losses, effective mitigation planning that takes into account the traffic and business continuity effects of disasters is key. The DTA model route choice effects after a disruption in the network provided insight regarding how traffic can propagate across the entire network and over time. Behavioral effects and queuing effects are a significant component requiring follow-up investigation in the context of binational commodity flow.
For more information contact Jeff Shelton at (915) 532-3759 or [email protected].
Increasing the Trusted Shipper Program at the Border
Since “trusted shipper programs” (C-TPAT, FAST And NEEC ) were established several years ago, participants have experienced reduced border wait times and improved just-in-time inventory delivery reliability. Established jointly by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its Mexican counterpart, Aduana, trusted shipper status was granted to shippers who met pre-approved security criteria. Their cargo travels in a secure supply chain and is pre-screened, resulting in fewer inspections and reductions in border crossing times. Even so, some companies choose not to join the programs. To find out why, researchers conducted a survey among manufacturers, assembly plants, customs brokers, importers, logistics providers and transportation companies. The survey revealed the reasons why some of the companies do not join trusted shipper programs, and the researchers recommended several ways membership can be increased. Among the recommendations, researchers suggest the establishment of a strategic plan that gains access to the leaders and decision-makers of manufactures to explain the benefits of joining the trusted shipper programs. Companies were also encouraged to form a partnership with public- and private-information providers to help decision-makers better understand the benefits of joining trusted shipper programs.
Investigating New Detectors for Border Traffic Counts
The quest continues for a cost-effective, reliable way to count the thousands of cars and trucks that cross the border between the U.S. and Mexico every day. Although counting vehicles may seem like an easy process, traffic counts are sometimes unreliable because of the stop-and-go environments typical at border crossings. In fiscal year 2013, researchers examined two products in their ongoing study examining the technologies best suited to measure traffic volumes in a border-crossing setting. One product being tested is a laser scanner that measures the distance from the device to the vehicle. Another product being studied is a pavement-mounted micro-radar inserted into a four-inch pavement core, about two inches deep. The radar unit faces traffic and is able to count the vehicles that pass by. A final report is being prepared on the products that have been tested. Researchers will include recommendations based on which products and technologies that worked the best.
For more information contact Dan Middleton at (979) 317-2826 or [email protected].
Making Reliable Border Crossing Time Predictions
With the use of historical and current real-time data, researchers have developed statistical prediction models that are being used to determine how long it will take for commercial vehicles to cross the Texas-Mexico border. The prediction model project has its roots in the 2009 installation of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology devices at the Bridge of the Americas. The devices measure wait and crossing times for commercial vehicles. As of July 2014, RFID readers are supplying the wait- and crossing-time data from seven ports of entry (POEs) and that data is used at the Border Crossing Information System (BCIS) website, located at http://bcis.tamu.edu/Commercial/en-US/index.aspx. Because each POE is unique, researchers customized algorithms and performed sensitivity analysis in order to fine-tune the accuracy of the prediction models. As a result of this project, the crossing times used on the BCIS website are forecast up to one hour in advance. Separately, researchers are building a prototype web dashboard designed to test the quality of their prediction models.
For more information contact Don Kang at (979) 317-2465 or [email protected].
Time Savings Benefits Assessment for Secure Border Trade Program
The initial phase of this study, which related to the issue of security, trade efficiency and economic development along the U.S.-Mexico border, was completed by researchers in 2013 as part of the El Paso Secure Border Trade (SBT) project (begun in 2011). In the SBT project, both tractor and trailers from three maquilas were outfitted with GPS devices. In addition to collecting detailed travel-time data between twin plants located in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the SBT project has other goals, including enhancing relationships between the maquilas, customs, transporters and border security personnel. The CIITR study centers on the analysis of the GPS data generated by the participating SBT trucks that ship goods across the border. In phase one of the CIITR study, researchers determined the availability and quality of the data and conducted a preliminary analysis using the data collected during the first half of the SBT project to present preliminary findings. In phase two of the study, researchers will continue the process of collecting and analyzing the data, refine the metrics and conduct a final assessment and report.
For more information contact Roberto Macias at (972) 994-2202 or [email protected].