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How the suspension of the Trusted Traveler Program will impact the trucking industry

"Just waiting to see exactly how it shakes out"
Posted at 12:04 AM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 09:35:24-05

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's a waiting game for truck companies across New York State when it comes to the suspension of the Trusted Traveler Program.

Treg Lewis is the Operations Lead for Relco Systems, a trucking company in Lockport that moves automotive freight. He said for now, "Just waiting to see exactly how it shakes out."

There are an estimated 30,000 people who use the "Free and Secure Trade" Program -- better known as "FAST" Program -- that will be impacted by the federal government's trusted traveler ban. The FAST Program expedites truck shipments through the border. But now that New Yorkers are unable to apply or re-apply for trusted traveler programs, truck companies fear wait times at the border could get worse.

"We want to know that as a carrier base -- 20 minutes from the border -- that we have policies that support our ability to interact and cross border trade. So what we would like is for that to become easier and not more difficult," he said.

Every day, Relco drivers move some six to ten times across the New York / Canadian border alone.

"We really care about our drivers... We just want to make sure they know it's coming, they know the procedures that potentially they will be denied and how we're going to work with them," he said. Lewis said this could also hurt the company's competitive edge.

"Commercial companies that cross the border are really going to have to think about how they compete with other states that are not effected by these same laws," he said.

Kendra Hems, President of the Trucking Association of New York, adds: "For us, this is a security issue."

The Association said the impact won't be immediate, but could be detrimental. More than a million trucks cross the Peace Bridge annually.

"We're hoping that we can move past the politics of the issue. Recognize that this is a security issue and hopefully the state and federal government can come to a resolution quickly on it," she said.

But despite the economic concerns from people and companies impacted by the Trusted Traveler ban, federal government officials insisted today it's a safety measure to stop criminals from cross the border.