Passenger Border Crossings

Passenger Border Crossings

There were approximately 312 million passenger crossings into the United States by land from Canada and Mexico in 2004, an increase of 2.5 percent from the 304 million crossings in 19951 [1]. These crossings were made in personal vehicles, buses, and trains, and by pedestrians at U.S. border gateways.2 The majority of crossings (82 percent), however, were in personal vehicles.

Crossings from Mexico accounted for more than three-quarters of the total (242 million) in 2004, or an average of 660,000 per day, up from an average of 558,000 per day in 1995. From Canada there were almost 70 million passenger crossings in 2004, about 191,000 a day, a decrease of 31 percent since 1995.

In general, the number of crossings by personal vehicle from Canada have been declining since 1996 (figure 1-4). From Mexico , however, passenger crossings by personal vehicle rose 43 percent between 1995 and 1999 and then fell 21 percent (to 191 million) by 2004. Over the 1995 to 2004 period, the largest one-year decline (13 percent) occurred between 2000 and 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks in the United States .

The differences between crossings from Canada and Mexico are most evident for pedestrians (figure 1-5). Almost 20 percent of passenger crossings into the United States from Mexico in 2004 were made on foot, while from Canada only 1.2 percent were. While the number of pedestrian crossings from Mexico fluctuated between 1994 and 2004, they declined 7 percent between 2001 and 2004. Conversely, pedestrian crossings from Canada grew 10 percent between 2001 and 2004 and were the highest (1.1 million) in 2002 for the entire 1994 to 2004 period.

Mexico and Canada had similar numbers of passenger crossings by bus in 2004 (3.4 million and 3.9 million, respectively). Bus crossings constituted 1.4 percent of crossings from Mexico and 6 percent of those from Canada in 2004. In recent years, between 2002 and 2004, bus crossings from Canada declined. Bus crossings from Mexico rose to their highest level in 2002 (3.9 million) and then also declined (figure 1-6).

Considerably more people arrive by train from Canada than Mexico (figure 1-7). In 2004, for instance, over 220,000 people arrived from Canada by train, while only about 13,000 did from Mexico . However, arrivals by train constituted less than 1 percent of all crossings from both Canada and Mexico in 2004.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, using data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Management Reporting, Data Warehouse CD-ROM, May 2005.

1 1994 data for passenger crossings by personal vehicle are not available for both Mexico and Canada .

2 See, "Surface Border Wait Times" in section 5 for specific information on U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico gateways.