SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Mexican officials are proposing a special pathway to eliminate traditionally long northbound border waits for pedestrians at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
The plan is modeled after the Cross Border Xpress, which quickly delivers air travelers from the U.S. side, via a bridge, into the Tijuana International Airport for a fee.
Figures show that on average, 20,000 people walk into the U.S. on a daily basis through the San Ysidro Port of Entry, where most mornings require two-hour waits.
This plan calls for a special pathway to be built on the Mexican side of the port of entry.
It would require border commuters on foot to pay a fee.
They would be pre-screened and given quick access into the U.S., especially those with tickets to ride the San Diego Trolley, which has a stop just outside the border crossing in San Ysidro.
This mode of transportation is widely used by pedestrians from Mexico once they walk into California.
“We have to figure out ways to innovate, ways to get people across the border, this is one of those projects that could be very helpful,” said Gustavo de la Fuente, a Smart Border Coalition board member. “Any individual who would use the trolley would find it easier to plan their day, not around spending an hour or two in line, but really getting to where they need to be.”
De la Fuente said the state of Baja California came up with the idea but it has yet to be presented to counterparts north of the border.
“There’s been a feasibility study done on it, there are a couple of private companies looking at it, so it’s well past the conceptual stage,” he said.
De la Fuente believes many will be willing to pay a fee in exchange for faster crossing times.
“For some of them at least, crossing faster and paying to cross faster would be an advantage and we know there are individuals who would pay.”
De la Fuente also believes this would improve the quality of life for thousands who work, go to school or visit family in the U.S.
“Imagine getting two hours of your life back every day, you could get in line later in the morning,” said De la Fuente. “It would also be a benefit to employers, if their employees are less tired, it would make them more productive.”
De la Fuente says the concept could get the green light later this year on both sides of the border, with construction beginning in 2024.
As for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, it has not said anything about the plan, or how it might affect its operations while processing some pedestrians in a much faster way.
A spokesperson for CBP told the San Diego Union-Tribune last week “it is aware of the proposal,” but that “it’s too early to comment on CBP operations.”