Texas

Mayors approve proposed automated cross-border cargo shuttle

The private firm says it can free up drivers’ time, reduce air pollution and wear and tear at Isleta’s port of entry.

EL PASO, TX (border report) – The mayors of El Paso and Juarez agreed on Friday to explore a private company proposal for an automated shuttle system to more efficiently move cargo through Isleta’s port of entry.

Under the project, truckers unhitch their cargo on the Mexican side, have an electric vehicle move it over a raised conveyor-type platform, and, after it has been inspected on the US side, hitch the trailer to a US truck that will take it to its destinations. This way, truckers won’t have to wait hours to cross the bridge, Shatto says, they can deliver multiple loads a day.

“We have been working for a long time to build an overpass from the south of the border to the north of the border with zero-emission autonomous electric vehicles that move one freight container, but you can fit so many vehicles. the guide is so necessary to function almost like a conveyor belt,” said Jeff Shatto, Freight Shuttle FSX vice president of communications. “This reduces traffic, load and delays on existing (bridges), greatly improving efficiency and capacity while addressing air quality issues.”

El Paso Mayor Oscar Lizer and Juarez Mayor Cruz Pérez Cuellar signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the development and implementation of the FSX initiative. Representatives from federal, state, and local governments attended the signing at the Blue Flame Building downtown.

Shatto said there was no set timeline for the project – the first of its kind on the US-Mexico border – but stressed it would not require public funds. An animated presentation of the shuttle shows the Mexican terminal far south of the Zaragoza International Bridge and the US terminal far northeast of the Isleta port of entry.

“There will be a lot of decisions to be made in the process, (but) we want to get this thing in place as quickly as possible; Everyone will benefit from this,” he said. “Expenses will be paid privately. This is not a public project; it is funded by the private sector as it has many benefits for the public sector.”

The company already has a prototype electric shuttle in College Station, Texas, Shatto said.

FSX cross-border shuttle prototype. (Artist provided by FSX)

Lizer was positive about the long-term offer.

“Anyone who understands economic development understands that time is money,” he said at the signing. “How can we use this time and turn it into money? How can we speed up what we are doing today and do it in a safer and more modern way? This is what we are doing today. […] When people look back 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, they will see where it all began: someone had a vision, someone was ready to do something different that had never been done before.”

Both Leaser and Mexican Consul General in El Paso Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de León said the initiative could attract more investment to the region and boost cross-border trade, which in 2021 was worth nearly $80 billion in the El Paso Juarez corridor.

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