Coast Guard: TWIC activation seems to be going smoothly
Trucking companies and port officials were hoping for a fairly smooth transition as the U.S. Coast Guard began enforcing a requirement that truckers and other workers entering marine facilities have a Transportation Worker Identification Credential or TWIC card” in New England effective Wednesday.
Amy Thomas, a Coast Guard spokesperson, said Wednesday that according to initial reports, “so far things are going well. We have had a few reports of trucks being denied access, but overall word seems to have gotten out.”
Enrollment at other ports in the country will be phased in through next spring.
Mike Leone, port director for the Massachusetts Port Authority in Boston, said he expected all longshoremen and terminal workers have their cards, and said, “a good majority of the truckers have signed up.
“I’m confident we have done an inclusive communications program — we’ve had days where we have checked for TWICs and explained to drivers that they will need them,” he said.
“That does not mean that on the first day of enforcement we are not going to have a few people who could cause traffic related issues as we try to implement the program,” he said. But he added the port had configured Conley Terminal so that drivers could be turned away without creating major bottlenecks.
David McLaughlin, area director for the big drayage company Roadlink, said, We’re in good shape, we’ve been very proactive.” His company controls about 200 drivers in the New England area and he expected about 90 percent to 95 percent of his drivers to have cards by the implementation day.
Victor Souza, president of Reas Transportation in Billerica, Mass., also said his 30 drivers had obtained TWIC cards as had employees such as mechanics who may need access to a terminal, if, for example, a truck breaks down on port property.
McLaughlin said one shortcoming of the TWIC card is that truckers will continue to need separate port ID cards at many ports they visit. For example, a trucker who may visit New York, Boston and Baltimore, may be required to have separate ID cards to gain access to each port.
“It would be nice if they could just use the TWIC card and not have all these redundant cards,” he said.
Some companies were paying for cards for drivers, especially if they continue to drive for a company for several years.
TWICs are required Oct. 15 in Boston and other locations in northern and southeastern New England. The cards will be required on Oct. 31 in Buffalo, Duluth, Detroit, Lake Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie and on Nov. 28 in Corpus Christi and Port Arthur, Texas, as well as North Carolina.
According to the latest edition of the TWIC Dashboard published by the Department of Homeland Security, there were still a lot of workers who had enrolled in the program as of Oct. 4 but have not had their TWIC cards activated. For example, there were 5,457 enrollments in Boston, but only 4,166 activated. Applicants versus cards in other locations are:
' Bourne, Mass. 3,883 enrollments, 2,943 activated.
' Bangor, Maine 1,525 enrollments, 817 activated.
' Portland, Maine, 2,403 enrolled, 2,290 activated.
' Providence, R.I, 3,629 enrolled, 2,889 activated.
' New Haven, Conn., 1,035 enrolled, 718 activated.
The hundreds of people who had enrolled for cards but did not yet have activated credentials has caused some concern. Dennis L. Bryant, of the law firm Holland & Knight said in the firm’s daily newsletter the latest dashboard data was “not particularly encouraging” and suggested “this could be a rough voyage for all.”
As of Sept. 25, 25,317 people had enrolled for a TWIC in the Port of New York and New Jersey, about 20 percent of the expected population of 125,000. But Bethann Rooney, manager of port security for the port authority, noted that nearly 70,000 of those workers were transients such as truckers and mariners that might enroll for a TWIC in another port.
About 5,642 truckers had applied for cards, which also was about one-fifth of the number of truckers who have SeaLink cards issued by the port authority for admittance into its facilities. Rooney noted many truckers may have applied for cards in more convenient locations close to their homes.
She also said that since New York does not go live with enforcement until April 15, 2009, she felt the impact on the port would probably be less than the first ports to be phased in such as Boston. ' Chris Dupin