A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer demonstrates how to drive through the new “Ready Lane” at the Peace Arch port of entry. Officials say they hope the new lane will reduce wait times by 30 minutes per 100 vehicles. Photo by Tara Nelson
Drivers crossing the border at the Peace Arch port of entry will now have an extra lane to choose from if their travel documents contain radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, border officials announced last week.
The new lane, called the “Ready Lane,” will be available to drivers who already have RFID-enabled cards such as NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST, U.S. passport cards or enhanced driver licenses (EDL) that are compliant with guidelines put forth in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
Michele James, director of field operations for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Seattle division, said the new lane is part of a pilot project being studied in an attempt to expedite trips across the border for the more than 256,000 Washington state residents who have EDL cards and thousands more who have other WHTI-compliant documents.
“The use of RFID technology in these entry documents enables CBP to further facilitate legitimate travelers as they cross the border into the United States,” James said. “We figure it will save about 15 seconds per vehicle. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you have a 100-car line-up, that’s about 30 minutes saved.”
The lanes are also being tested at New York, Vermont, Michigan and Arizona crossings. In Blaine, the lane will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. James said if use of the lane increases, port officials will expand those hours.
“We will be monitoring that very carefully,” she said.
Since the implementation of WHTI, travelers have been required to present secure travel documents that denote citizenship and identity when entering or re-entering the United States from within the western hemisphere.
For more information, visit www.CBP.gov.