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Nexus use on the rise at Peace Bridge

WBFO's Mike Desmond

More and more people are crossing the Peace Bridge more quickly by using those Nexus passes, especially the cross-border commuters of summer.

To get a Nexus card, an individual goes through a fingerprint and background check and gets to use special lanes on cross-border bridges and through special TSA lanes at airports. As the number using the cards on the Peace Bridge increases, that actually speeds up those going through regular Customs and Immigration lanes by thinning the crowd a little.

"Generally, the average Nexus time only takes about 25 percent of time needed for a normal inspection," said Peace bridge General Manager Ron Reinas. "So we've actually done an analysis that if 50 percent of our traffic were Nexus, there would be next to no delays at any time on the bridge."

Reinas said this is a special issue right now, with the beach commuters rush.

"We're probably around 26-27 percent in terms of total traffic," Reinas said. "However, during peak times, it's actually higher than that. For example, the peak time entering the U.S. is generally in the morning and at times we can have as many as four Nexus lanes open, entering the U.S."

It is less complicated in the afternoon, when those commuters head for the cottages and the beaches with two Nexus lanes in Ontario, although Reinas said that may rise to three.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

The cards have been so successful in moving along cars, the bridge is working with the the Buffalo Sabres and other organizers of the World Junior hockey games coming to town in December to make sure more of those coming across the border for the games have Nexus. They are also working with hockey leagues to get the cards for families and entire teams, with those under 18 getting the cards for free.

The lesson learned last time the world games were here was that thousands of Canadians will cross the border for the games and Reinas said having more of them with Nexus will really help.

"We're doing a marketing blitz, with, for example, minor hockey teams in Southern Ontario to sign up for Nexus to avoid lengthy delays when the World Juniors rolls around at the end of the year," he said. "We think that will make a tremendous difference if we can get more people signed up for Nexus during those peak times."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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