Academic journal article Canadian-American Public Policy

Irritable Border Syndrome: The Impact of Security on Travel across the Canada-U.S. Border

Academic journal article Canadian-American Public Policy

Irritable Border Syndrome: The Impact of Security on Travel across the Canada-U.S. Border

Article excerpt

Table 9 Paired t-test analysis and results.

Peace Arch        Before            After

Average wait time  11.55             6.96

Maximum wait time  30.32            15.32

Minimum wait time   2.68             1.51

Standard deviation  7.29             5.02

t value            -2.58

p value 22, .05    1.717  Not Significant

p value 22, .01    2.508  Not Significant

It should be noted that the average border wait time declined at the same time the amount of traffic through the port was starting to increase. However, a new Canadian port-of-entry facility began construction in August 2007. (7) Although the facility was not officially opened until August 2009, many of the improvements were completed and in operation by September 2008. The new facility expanded the number of primary processing lanes from seven to ten, increasing the overall inspection capacity of the facility (Canada Border Services Agency 2009d). The impact of the construction of this facility on average border wait time can be clearly seen on Figure 12. During construction the average border wait time increased but once construction was completed the wait time dropped significantly. In addition to the new facility the Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) was put in place at Peace Arch and Pacific Highway in 2007. The ATIS consists of signage that provides travelers with wait times at the two ports and thus helps to distribute traffic more efficiently between the two facilities, which are located approximately one mile apart (Whatcom Council of Governments, 2007).

Peace Arch is a rather unique case study due to the fact that more data exists for this crossing than for the others in this study. The Whatcom Council of Governments (WCOG) maintains a comprehensive data set, the Cascade Gateway Border Data, for the four crossings commonly referred to as the Cascade Gateways, consisting of Peace Arch, Pacific Highway, Sumas-Huntingdon and Lynden-Aldergrove. This data set includes border wait time data for cars and trucks traveling in both directions as well as traffic volumes, number of vehicles in the queue, queue length and service rate at each of the four ports (Whatcom Council of Governments, 2012). As a result, this data set allows for the average border wait time to be examined for traffic going in both directions, northbound to Canada as well as southbound to the U.S. This data can be seen in Figure 12 for the Peace Arch. As Figure 12 shows, the average border wait time for southbound vehicles crossing into the U.S. is significantly greater than for those vehicles traveling northbound to Canada (see Table 10). The average border wait time for vehicles entering the U.S. at Peace Arch is 11.7 minutes compared to 8.4 minutes for vehicles entering Canada (see Table 10) between August 2003 and December 2009.


Table 10 Peace Arch North to Canada South to U.S.

Peace Arch       North to Canada South to U.S.

Average wait time            8.4          11.7

Maximum wait time          30.32         34.74

Minimum wait time           1.51             0

Standard deviation          5.61          7.43

t value                     3.11

p value 77. .05             1.67   Significant

p value 77, .01             2.39   Significant

However, there are some problems with the data. For instance, no data is available for a four-month period for southbound vehicles between December 2007 and March 2008 (Whatcom Council of Governments, 2012). In addition, construction began on a new U.S. port facility in August 2007 and continued for the next several years (Whatcom Council of Governments, 2010b). Construction on the new facility was mostly completed by February 2010, in time for the Vancouver Olympics (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010). All construction was completed by December 2010 and the new facility was officially opened in March 2011 (U.S. General Services Administration, 2011). As a result, we cannot tell if the higher average border wait time observed for southbound vehicles during 2008 and 2009 is due to the implementation of the WHTI, construction delays, or to a combination of both. …

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