NEXUShours to expand

Published on Thu, Aug 18, 2005
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NEXUS hours to expand

by Meg Olson

NEXUS is feeling a few growing pains. Since U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) started running the program through a nationally accessed database a week ago users have been experiencing slight delays in the NEXUS lanes and some new applicants have had their enrollment interviews postponed.

“We are having some problems with the rollover to the global enrollment system,” said Blaine area port director Peg Fearon, but said she expects them to be resolved quickly. The change has security benefits but the most significant benefit to the user will be participation in what is now a truly national program, Fearon said. “Previously they could only use it in Blaine or Point Roberts. Now you can use it anywhere there’s a NEXUS lane.” There are now six lanes open between southern Ontario and Michigan and New York states, and two between Quebec and New York or Vermont. Fearon said the agency has plans to expand the system along the northern border. Through the program both U.S. and Canadian border agencies pre-screen travelers who, for their $50 enrollment fee, are issued a card that allows them to use the dedicated lanes and save time in line. The cards are radio-tagged and trigger database records of traveler information for the inspector to compare with vehicle occupants.

U.S. Customs public affairs officer Mike Milne said other NEXUS programs, such as NEXUS-air and the NEXUS-Marine being tested in Detroit would continue to be separate systems for the immediate future. “It would be safe to assume that one of the long-term goals is to see if all these systems can be integrated,” he said.

NEXUS is also expanding its hours of operation at the Pacific Highway port of entry. As of August 22 the southbound Pacific Highway NEXUS lane, which now closes at 3 p.m., will open from noon to 6 p.m. The northbound lanes operated by the Canadian border services agency are open from 2 to 6 p.m. Milne said his agency was responding to requests from the traveling public to keep the lane open longer. “We think this may help attract more users,” he said.