EL PASO, Texas — A lot of people walk across the bridges in El Paso to get to Ciudad Juarez, but not everybody does.
The city of El Paso is using the automatic vehicle identification program, referred to as AVI, to get people through ports of entry faster.
“When the Mexican adjuans has a backup, those wait times will spill over into our area.Or when Customs and Border Protection conducting their southbound inspections, depending on how extensive the inspections are, that can contribute to wait times,” said Paul Stresow, assistant director of international bridges.
“But our tollbooths on the AVI — side zero wait time to get through.”
The AVI program is pretty simple. One can go to the city’s website and apply for a tag and setup an account. Once, the tag is received, it’s applied to the windshield and it acts like a toll pass.
El Pasoans are split on the idea.
“Honestly, I think they would because nobody wants to wait in line all day, hours. So, I would,” Iliana Dominguez in South El Paso said.
“I don’t think it will (work) because there’s too much going on. They have to search no matter what,” Mauricio Leos in South El Paso said. “That’s why it takes so long.”
“People go back and forth all of the time. So, I think it would make it a lot more convenient,” Michael Dickson in South El Paso said. “I think there’s definitely people interested in that.”
“I think it’s for a niche group of people,” Robertha Sepulveda in Downtown El Paso said. “Not all El Pasoans go into Juarez all of the time.”
Mostly commercial vehicles have been using the program, according to the city.
There’s been a slight increase in registration, with 400 new accounts created since the start of the new year.
The city hopes a new marketing strategy will get more tags on windshields.
“We’ve been marketing at UTEP. We’ll be at community colleges marketing to our students,” Stresow said. “They’re more ready to adapt to new technologies.”
The city is also starting a savings incentive for anyone with an AVI tag who crosses in September. It’ll be cheaper to cross over with a tag as opposed to paying with cash.
They hope this will encourage more people to sign up for the program.