On June 6 the Ontario government approved the elimination of the Enhanced Driver Licence Program, which allows people to enter the United States at land and water border crossings without a passport.
I just got a letter in the mail from Logan Purdy, A/Director of the Service Delivery Partnership Branch, telling me that the government believes in better customer service so it is going to make life easier for people and businesses in the province by delivering simpler, faster and better government services. Purdy suggests other products such as NEXUS, FAST and epassport are more efficient and provide greater flexibility for land, water and international air travel.
The enhanced driver licence only allows for entry into the United States by land and water.
But that was fine with me.
As a senior over 80, I must renew my driver’s licence every two years, which requires taking a test and then completing the process through attendance at an Ontario Service desk.
It is a very simple procedure.
Now I am going to be faced with getting a Nexus card or a passport, the latter which I let lapse as I wasn’t going to be flying out of the country any more.
According to a Canadian Press story back in June, the driver’s-licence option was introduced in 2009 after the U.S. began requiring passports or other secure identification for anyone crossing into the country by land or sea, but it hasn’t had the anticipated uptake.
The enhanced driver’s licence, which features a radio-frequency chip that includes a unique number for border staff to use to find personal information that identifies the traveller in a secure database, costs an extra $40 above the regular driver’s licence fee of $90.
Ministry of Transportation spokesman Bob Nichols told CP that about 60,000 people currently have the secure ID out of 10.2 million drivers in Ontario.
British Columbia and Manitoba have enhanced driver’s licences. Quebec did but phased out the program. Other provinces rejected the idea because it was too costly or there wasn’t enough public interest.
With only 60,000 people using it in Ontario, I suppose I can see why the government is dropping the Enhanced Driver Licence Program.
But that is not to say I like it, because I don’t.
The program ends for an individual when his or her licence requires renewal, which is the case with my wife Barbara at the moment.
It has sent me looking for information regarding applying for a NEXUS card and my first results were shocking. It looked like we were going to face a $125 US fee for setting up the application and then $50US for the actual card.
But I have since learned to avoid these sites, that a person can apply directly.
I will miss the enhanced licence. It was so simple, both the licence and security information required to get into the U.S. contained in one card.
However, it is not the first move by the new Progressive Conservative government that has ticked me off and probably won’t be the last.
In regard to my column last week on E-bikes, one piece of information from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation that I neglected to mention was the following: “You also need to follow the same rules of the road as regular cyclists.”
Regular cyclists follow the rules of the road?
I will admit I see some that do but I see many that don’t.
The disregard for the rules I see most occurs at red lights. Where motor vehicles are held up even though no traffic is coming, the cyclist will often scoot through.
I am also seeing more cyclists hugging the curb but riding into oncoming traffic, rather than hugging the curb and riding with it.
And to top it off, I see cyclists in the cycling lanes on Queen Street riding against the traffic flow.
I realize they are safely in a cycling lane, but what do they do when a cyclist travelling in the proper direction in the cycling lane approaches.
I am not seeking to put a knock on all cyclists here but I do want to point out that all are not following the rules of the road.
Just as last week I was not seeking to put a knock on all E-bike riders, I was simply attempting to point out that if so many are going to be run at a highly-increased speed then it was probably time the ministry of transportation began treating them as regular motorcycles, applying licencing along with requirements for insurance and the use of regular motorcycle helmets..