FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 10, 2009
SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND: IMPROVING BORDER CROSSING IS LOW HANGING FRUIT IN EFFORT TO SPEED UP TRAIN TRAVEL
Schumer, Gillibrand Pushes Department Of Homeland Security To Study Ways To Speed Up Screening Of Train Passengers at American-Canadian Border
Amtrak Trains Currently Pause For Up To an Hour Or More At Border
Legislation Requiring Study Passed The Senate Last Night
Today U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced senate passage of legislation they are co-sponsoring, along with Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, written by Senator Bernie Sanders, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to do an in-depth examination of their processes for screening travelers crossing the U.S. Canadian border by rail. Currently the process takes up to an hour or more, significantly increasing the time to get to places like Toronto and Montreal by rail. Schumer and Gillibrand said that as the country tries to develop high speed rail as an alternative to travel on crowded roads and planes, reducing the time to cross the border is low hanging fruit.
“In an era when we are trying to increase the speed of train travel, it is ridiculous that people still have to wait at the border for hours,” said Schumer. “The Department of Homeland Security should be working as hard as it can to speed up the process, while still ensuring that both Canadians and American’s are safe. Those efforts would lead to increased travel, increased commerce, increased tourism and more dollars for both sides of the border.”
“We can’t let bureaucracy stand in the way of people getting where they need to be in a timely manner,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This commonsense legislation will put the Department of Homeland Security to work to speed up this process. As we work to get the economy back on track, we need to be able to rely on our rail lines to get people, goods and services where they need to be on time, while ensuring the safety of travelers and our rail infrastructure. I will continue working with Senator Schumer to make sure this problem is getting fixed.”
Schumer and Gillibrand’s legislation was introduced as an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill, that passed the Senate last night. The amendment would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to do an in-depth examination of their processes for screening travelers crossing the U.S.-Canadian border in to Ontario and Quebec. It builds upon the earlier efforts of the Congress in the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act to reduce delays of passenger trains, improve trip time and better on-time performance. DHS would indicate specifically what steps would need be taken to improve screenings on both current and possible future rail routes while keeping our border secure. The affected Northeastern states, the Canadian government, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration would all be involved in this comprehensive examination of improving cross-border rail travel in the region.
The House has already passed their version of the DHS appropriation bill, and the legislation will now go to conference committee and then to the President for his signature.