Ready lanes to reduce border crossing times
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Nicholas Conner helps a border crosser navigate one of the newly installed pedestrian Ready lanes at the Calexico downtown Port of Entry Wednesday. (.Photo Chelcey Adami, Wednesday, May 22, 2013 / May 23, 2013)
The six kiosks were installed last Wednesday and allow travelers to scan their own border-crossing documents before reaching the officer, thereby cutting down on the time it would take for the officer to manually swipe the document.
It also allows the officer to better focus on the traveler and thereby increases safety, officials say.
Those using the Ready lanes must have a Radio Frequency Identification-enabled document, and those include U.S. passport cards, Trusted Traveler cards such as SENTRI as well as legal permanent resident and laser visa/border crossing cards issued after 2008.
All travelers older than 16 years old must have a RFID-enabled card to use the lane.
Those eligible to use the pedestrian Ready lane will approach the facility from the left in a separate line from general travelers. There is new signage marking the appropriate lane to enter.
Yoana Reyes said she crosses the border about once a week and used the Ready lane kiosk Wednesday.
“It’s nice. I like it,” she said. “It’s easy and faster.”
The Ready lanes will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will provide a benefit to SENTRI users who can also use them during non-SENTRI hours.
Port officials are saying that more than 60 percent of pedestrians crossing the border are already using the kiosks.
“Those travelers that are currently using the Ready lanes for pedestrians are experiencing significantly less wait times, generally averaging about 20 minutes or less,” Port Director Billy Whitford said.
The Calexico downtown Port of Entry is the sixth location to install the kiosks and Ready lanes.
“We’re looking to become more efficient, more effective in what we do on a daily basis,” said Pete Flores, director of field operations in San Diego.
In addition to security, CBP also has a responsibility to facilitate legitimate trade and travel, he added.
“Summer is coming around here in the Imperial Valley, and temperatures can get well above 100 degrees here,” he said. “We are confident that the process improvement will help shorten those lines, and we’ll have travelers waiting in shorter lines as summer months approach.”
The Ready lanes were converted from the general traveler lanes, but the change hasn’t shown to increase the wait times for non-Ready lane users since it was implemented last week, Whitford said.
“It’s a good thing we have happening here in Calexico with the installation of the pedestrian Ready lanes kiosks,” Flores said. “It’s a good opportunity for us to continue to strive for processing improvement within CBP.”
Between 10,000 and 14,000 pedestrians cross daily through the Calexico Port of Entry, and it is the third-busiest land port of entry in the nation.
Visit www.getyouhome.gov or www.cbp.gov for more information on Ready lanes.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org