EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The mayors of El Paso and Juarez on Friday agreed to explore a private company’s pitch for an automated shuttle system to move cargo more efficiently through the Ysleta port of entry.

The project involves truckers unhinging their cargo on the Mexican side, having an electrical vehicle move it along an elevated, conveyor-type platform and, after it gets inspected on the U.S. side, hitch the trailer box to an American truck that will take it to its destination. By doing this, truckers won’t have to spend hours waiting to cross the bridge and will be able to deliver several loads per day, Shatto said.

“We’ve been working on for quite a while: To build an elevated guideway from south of the border to north of the border with autonomous, zero-emissions electrical vehicles that move a single freight container – but you can put as many vehicles on the guideway as necessary to function almost as a conveyor belt,” said Jeff Shatto, vice president of communications for Freight Shuttle FSX. “This is taking traffic and stress and delays off the existing (bridges), increasing efficiency and throughput dramatically while addressing air-quality issues.”

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser and Juarez Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the development and implementation of FSX’s initiative. Representatives of federal, state and local governments were on hand to witness the signing at the Blue Flame Building Downtown.

Shatto said there is no set timeline for the project – the first of its kind on the U.S.-Mexico border – but emphasized it would not involve public funds. An animated presentation of the shuttle shows the Mexican terminal far south of the Zaragoza International Bridge and the U.S. terminal far northeast of the Ysleta Port of Entry.

“Many determinations will be made along the way (but) we want this thing on the ground as quickly as possible; everybody will benefit from it,” he said. “The cost will be borne privately. This is not a public project; this is funded by the private sector through it has many benefits for the public sector.”

The company already has an electrical shuttle prototype in College Station, Texas, Shatto said.

FSX’s cross-border shuttle prototype. (Artist’s rendition courtesy FSX)

Leeser spoke favorably about the long-term proposal.

“Anybody that understands economic development, understands that time is money,” he said at the signing. “How do we take that time and turn it into money? How do we expedite what we are doing today and do it in a safer, more modern way? That is what we are doing today. […] When people look back 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now, they’re going to see where it started: Someone had a vision, someone was willing to do something different that has never been done before.”

Both Leeser and Mexican Consul General in El Paso Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon said the initiative has the potential to bring more investment to the region and grow cross-border trade, which in 2021 stood nearly at $80 billion in the El Paso-Juarez corridor.