Canadians travelling from Ontario to New York through the state’s border bridges during the week can expect longer than usual wait times.
Aaron Bowker with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the longer delays are a result of several factors, namely that there’s higher volume during summer months. There’s also been some reassignment of staff, which has been impacting the flow during the week. Peak travel times, however, should be moving along as usual.
“Your Tuesdays and Wednesday, where you would have seen on a typical summer day a 10 to 15 minute wait, you’re seeing 20 to 30 minutes,” he told Yahoo Canada. “That little bit of an increase is acceptable to us.”
Bowker says part of the delays are caused by an increase of marijuana seizures, as a result of the drug being legalized in Canada. There’s also been several reassignments of staff from across the New York border, who are helping along the Southwest U.S. border, which is currently experiencing a major influx of seizures as a result of the migrant crisis.
“They are assisting the U.S. border patrol in processing and taking care of those people while they are in detention, while they are being processed,” he said.
He adds that any time there are officers away and a shortage in staff, it’s going to impact how things work.
“We’re trying to minimize that impact by realigning resources where they’re needed most without affecting the enforcement mission,” he says. “So we’re making sure that during peak travel times on weekends, we have all our lanes open.”
Travellers to the U.S. who are used to little or no wait times at the border throughout the rest of the year might forget that summer months are different. Bowker says while they might see 10,000-12,000 cars during the off season, they’ll see 25,000-35,000 cars a day during the summer.
“When you’re talking double the traffic, even with all the lanes open, you’re going to see a delay,” he says. “When you have less resources it’s going to affect certain things.”
Those travelling to the U.S. via the New York border can expect things to shift after Labour Day, which is the unofficial end of summer holidays and the start of the school year.