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New Group Promotes Cross Border Trips

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – A drop in cross border traffic in recent months is prompting a group of stakeholders to form a new group to change what they say are some misperceptions about delays.

The Easy Crossing Council was unveiled Tuesday. It's made up of representatives of the Peace Bridge Authority, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission and other local groups involved in tourism promotion.

The Council has created a media campaign to get the message out that delays are minimal. Tom Garlock oversees operations at the Lewiston-Queenston and Rainbow Bridges.

"More than 90 percent of the time, motorists will be able to cross the border in ten minutes or less time," Garlock said.

Garlock also said, for now, a passport is not required to cross the border.

According to the latest statistics, day trips to Canada this past May fell to the third lowest level in 30 years. Garlock said comments he's heard from travelers back up those figures.

"Anecdotally, I've talked with people who say they used to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake frequently but have now cut back on such trips because they don't want to get caught up in that mess at the border," Garlock said. "That's perplexing to me. There's never been a better time to cross the border. Volumes are down and staffing is up."

Garlock admits that heavy news coverage of a five hour backup at local border crossings during last year's July 4th holiday lingers and may be a factor for the drop in traffic.

He does say longer delays do occur during holiday weekends but that a toll free hotline is available to advise travelers of current conditions. That number is 1-800-715-6722.