The traffic flow across the international bridge has dropped slightly this spring compared to last year.
“Generally speaking, the volume of travellers are down a bit. They’re down about 10-12 percent,” noted Ray Martinson, district superintendent for Canada Customs and Revenue Agency here.
To date, 17,732 travellers have crossed the border, including 13,969 U.S. travellers and 3,763 Canadians. That’s a total of 4,945 U.S. vehicles and 1,803 Canadian ones.
With June traditionally the busiest time of year for tourists, the peak is usually the second or third weekend of the month, which means it is lineup season at the border here.
“Once the U.S. high schools are out, they start to come across,” noted Martinson.
Although last weekend was hectic, staff at the Ontario Tourist Information Centre here also noticed a slight decrease in visitors so far this spring.
“It’s a little bit down during the week. Actually, all of our centres are a little bit slower,” noted Jane Johnstone, the Northwest region supervisor for Ontario Tourism.
“We don’t know whether it’s because of the gas prices, the weather, or the army worms,” she added.
By doing away with the toll booth on the Canadian side of the bridge, lineups here are all but gone. And with the toll booth now on the U.S. side, Canadian customs officers are less harried with large lines.
“I’m happy to report the lineup at Customs is only 10-15 minutes but the lineups at the bridge toll [booth] are one hour to two hours,” said Martinson.
“In one respect, the bridge toll is giving us a bit of breathing room.”
But in another respect, the new setup is causing headaches before travellers even make it onto the bridge.