Equitable Treatment for Motorcoaches, Drivers and Passengers at Ports of Entry

Issue

In many cases United States ports of entry disenfranchise motorcoaches, drivers and passengers in ways that are disproportionate and inequitable in relation to other modes of transportation. Border crossings at both borders yield examples of delays of up to 15 hours for motorcoach passengers, while domestic ports of entry require varying security credentials which create inordinate investments of time and money by bus operators and drivers.

Background

While border crossings are not intended to be uniform bus operators are increasingly experiencing longer wait and hold times. Wait times coupled with search processes have taken as long 15 hours. Ultimately longer wait times at the border discourages motorcoach travel and tourism due to missed time at work, travel connections and planned events.

Domestic ports of entry present their own set of problems particularly in regards to driver credentialing. The absence of a uniform national credentialing process for all modes of transportation has open the door to state, local and authority security screening. While local screening is done under the pretext of security the true purpose seems to be revenue generation for airport authorities. At Logan International Airport bus drivers must be issued a security credential before operating a vehicle in and around the airport. The credential is only valid at Logan International and costs $20 per driver. One large regional carrier estimates that they spent over $8,500 over 3 years to credential 46 employees and will spend approximately $2,800 annually on ongoing administrative processes.

After credentialing has been completed the identification is valid for 2 years and does not apply to other transportation hubs. The same bus operator must undertake a separate process at other airports in the vicinity.

ABA Position

Motorcoach operators and passengers must be provided a crossing process befitting a group travel mode. Congress should authorize a study and fund a model ports of entry program specifically for motorcoach passengers at the northern and southern border. The study should establish best practices for both operators and Customs and Border Protection officers to expedite border crossing times. In addition the study should establish infrastructure changes at the northern and southern border to alleviate bus wait times.