Analysis of Primary Inspection Wait Time at U.S. Ports of Entry

Principal Investigator: Bryan Roberts

Other Researchers: Adam Rose, Steve McGonegal, Fynnwin Prager, Dan Wei, Charles Baschnagel, Timothy Beggs, Omeed Baghelei


This study extends the research of “The Impact on the U.S. Economy of Changes in Wait Times At Ports of Entry” completed on March 31, 2013 by a CREATE research team on the economic impacts of wait times at U.S. ports of entry (see Roberts et al. 2013). That study quantified how wait time changes with the addition of one CBP-Office of Field Operations (OFO) primary inspection officer at land passenger and commercial vehicle crossings and international airports. It then estimated the value of saved wait time for existing traffic flows, how the number of cross-border passenger vehicle trips and transport cost for the trucking industry changes with lower wait time, and the impact on U.S. income (GDP) and employment that these changes induce. This study extends the earlier project in several ways. Volume I of this report evaluates how change in passport inspection wait time at U.S. international airports impacts the number of passengers traveling by air to and from the U.S. It also evaluates trends in the volume of international air travelers arriving at U.S. airports and implications for CBP-OFO resources, the impact of passport inspection wait time on missed flight connections at international airports, and CBP-OFO management of existing passport inspection resources. Volume II returns to the first study to significantly improve the analytical methodology for quantifying the relationship between the number of primary inspection officers and wait time at land border crossings. It also reviews available projections of cross-border passenger and vehicle flows and recommends a methodology to project vehicle flows at the port level on the northern and southern borders.   Table ES-1 summarizes the key results of the two studies with respect to the economic impacts of adding one additional CBP-OFO primary inspection officer at 17 land passenger vehicle crossings, 12 land commercial vehicle crossings, and 14 inspection sites at 4 U.S. international airports. Results include the value of wait time saved for existing passenger flows, and income (GDP) and employment impacts related to new passengers traveling to the U.S. as a result of lower wait times. It is very important to note two points about these updated estimates. First, the impact estimates for ground passenger transportation and truck freight transportation significantly underestimate the actual impacts resulting from adding an extra officer, because they are based on the analytical methodology of Roberts et al. (2013). The new methodology developed in Volume II of this study suggests that impacts are significantly greater than these estimates, by a factor of three or more. Second, impact estimates for air passenger travel have upper- and lower-bound values. Upper-bound results treat all wait time as counting towards passenger delay in clearing entry into a U.S. airport, and lower-bound results treat only wait time greater than 30 minutes as counting towards this delay.   Key findings of Volumes I and II beyond these economic impact results are reviewed after table ES-1.