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Border wait times haven't increased (con't)

Smith said that if travellers experience a longer than expected delay it could be as a result of “any one of a number of reasons.”

He said a “common” one is that an “enforcement action” has taken place.

That means an agent has been pulled off the line “in order to take care” of the event such as a drug seizure.

Smith said the agency does try to anticipate levels of traffic “based on last year’s traffic” but acknowledged “we may get caught short.”

If demand is considerably higher, he said, “we have to start calling people in and it can sometimes take a little while to get somebody to come in from off shift.”

Smith said that while Customs doesn’t have a traffic control staffer out on the plaza – “that’s not a part of our function” – supervisors “are always keeping a tab on how many cars are on the plaza.”

He said Customs also coordinates with the bridge and tunnel companies “to try to determine what the traffic looks like on the other side of the bridge coming up so that we can make the determination as to whether or not we need to increase or decrease staff depending on the situation.”

Smith said the department doesn’t keep extra staff on stand-by to deploy if traffic volumes suddenly increase.

An argument that has been made by the Ambassador Bridge is that traffic gets backed up not because the bridge can’t handle the flow but because vehicles are delayed at Customs.

On the Canadian side, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) makes “every effort” to forecast traffic volumes so there are an adequate number of officers at inspection booths, spokeswoman Teri Mailloux said.

She said CBSA also is “routinely adjusting staffing levels for expected increases in traffic volumes favouring peak travel periods.”

Mailloux said that while the agency “can’t predict everything” it does have standby staff “as necessary” to fill booths in cases of traffic surges.

Mailloux said CBSA “service standards” are for wait times to be 10 minutes Monday to Thursday and 20 minutes Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays.


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