Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Measuring Border Delay and Crossing Times at the U.S. – Mexico Border
Final Report
Automated Crossing and Wait Time Measurement

Contact Information: Operations Feedback at

Download the Printable Version (PDF, 5MB)
PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®.

August 2012

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Toll-Free "Help Line" (866) 367-7487
Fax: 202-366-3225

August 2012

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration logo


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names may appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Measuring Border Delay and Crossing Times at the US–Mexico Border - Final Report
Automated Crossing Time and Wait Time Measurement

5. Report Date

August 2012

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Rajat Rajbhandari, Juan Villa, William Tate, Swapnil Samant, Leonard Ruback, and Don Kang

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Texas Transportation Institute
3135 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-3135

Battelle Memorial Institute
505 King Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201

10. Work Unit No.

11. Contract or Grant No.

DTFH61-06-D-00007/Task BA07-040

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report covering 12/14/2007 to 3/31/2012

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

16. Abstract

A pilot test implemented a radio frequency identification (RFID) system to automatically measure travel times of US-bound commercial vehicles at a selected Port of Entry (POE) on the US-Mexico border under long-term, real-world conditions. The initiative began with a Part 1 technology trade-off study of potential detection technologies to measure travel times. A Part II initiative verified RFID as the most appropriate technology for the objectives and implemented a RFID-based reader system the selected POE: the Bridge of the Americas (BOTA) at El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The initial implementation measured crossing time, which is the average travel time completely through the POE starting at the end of the queue in Mexico. The project later added RFID reader stations at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Primary Inspection booths at BOTA and at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge POE in eastern Texas that allowed measurement of wait time. Wait time is the average travel time from the end of the queue in Mexico to the border and is a segment of crossing time. This report documents the technology system’s stakeholder involvement, planning, design, installation, integration, test and evaluation, and real-world operation as well as lessons learned. The project also developed stand-alone documents to assist future implementers of similar automated RFID-based travel time measurement systems.

17. Key Words

ITS Technology, Border Crossing, Port of Entry, Traveler Information, Border Wait Time, Border Crossing Time

18. Distribution Statement

19. Security Classif.
(of this report)


20. Security Classif.
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized





ACE Automated Cargo Environment
ALPR Automatic License Plate Recognition
AMAC Asociación de Maquiladoras de Ciudad Juárez
ATA American Trucking Association
AVI Automatic Vehicle Identification
AVL Automatic Vehicle Location
BOTA Bridge of the Americas
BSIF Border Safety Inspection Facility
BTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics
CAPUFE Caminos y Puentes Federales de Ingresos y Servicios Conexos
CBP Customs and Border Protection
DMS Dynamic Message Sign
DPS Department of Public Safety
FAST Free and Secure Trade
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
GIS Geographic Information System
GPS Global Positioning System
GSA General Services Administration
HAR Highway Advisory Radio
IAVE Identificación Automatica Vehicular
IMIP Instituto Municipal de Investigación y Planeación
INDABIN Instituto de Administración y Avalúos de Bienes Nacionales
ITS Intelligent Transportation System
MPO Metropolitan Planning Organization
MX Mexico
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NMDOT New Mexico Department of Transportation
POE Port of Entry
RFID Radio Frequency Identification
RGV Rio Grande Valley
RSS Real Simple Syndicate
SCT Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes
SRE Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores
TAMU Texas A&M University
TTI Texas Transportation Institute
TxDOT Texas Department of Transportation
UDP User Datagram Protocol
URL Universal Record Locater
US United States
VPN Virtual Private Network
XML Extensible Markup Language