By Steve Guntli
NEXUS users get a lot of bang for their buck, according to the authors of a new study.
On September 14, researchers at Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI) released the study, “Monetizing some benefits of participation in NEXUS.” The study found that people with NEXUS and other Trusted Traveler passes experience dramatically shorter wait times than non-NEXUS users, which leads to more money saved in personal time, decreased fuel use and other environmental benefits.
The authors, Christopher Dingman of the Federal Highway Administration and Daniel Edgel of BPRI, used data collected at the Peace Arch border crossing to determine average wait times. More than 10,000 people cross the border in Whatcom County daily, and more than 75 percent of that traffic comes through the two Blaine crossings, leading to some long and unpredictable wait times.
According to the study, the average delay at the border Monday through Sunday is 16.4 minutes for a non-NEXUS user. In comparison, a NEXUS user’s average delay is 1.3 minutes. When looking solely at weekend travel, the difference becomes even more marked: 21.7-minute average delays for non-NEXUS, and only 1.9 minutes for NEXUS.
The study also looked at the “buffer” time cross-border travelers factor in to their trips, or the amount of time they must arrive early to make it to their destination on time. If a non-NEXUS user wants to avoid a costly delay with 95 percent certainty, they must arrive at the crossing an average of 55 minutes early. A NEXUS user gets those same odds with only five minutes of buffer time.
Finding that time actually is money, the study used the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) metric for valuing personal time to find out how much waiting at the border can cost you. According to the DOT, an hour of travel time translates into about $17.90, using factors like personal income, reason for travel and personal comfort as metrics. By that standard, one round trip through the border costs the average person $32.03, and the average NEXUS holder $3.93, for a total savings of $28.10.
The amount of gas consumed while waiting at the border plays a part, as well. For one trip, non-users will use up .12 gallons of gas getting through the border, compared to .01 gallons with NEXUS. When translated into carbon dioxide emissions, the NEXUS user avoids releasing 2.12 pounds of pollutants for each visit.
Despite the benefits, the study found that more than half of all cross-border travelers do not have a NEXUS pass. According to a 2013 BPRI survey, 15 percent of frequent cross-border travelers chose not to get a NEXUS card, put off by the yearly fee and the rigorous application process. Another 25 percent didn’t know the program existed. A NEXUS pass costs $50 for five years, and requires an in-person interview at an approved NEXUS center to apply, so people without easy access to a facility may find the process inconvenient.
Read the full study at bit.ly/1NzPz0N.