Passport Backlog Has Led to Summer Reprieve

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Passport offices across the United States have been flooded with applications since new regulations when into effect in January.

Cindy Lindsley works in the passport office at the Bryan Post Office and says the surplus of applications has led to increased delays in processing requests.

"I can't guarantee anything for summer travel right now," Lindsley said. Lindsley says delays have wreaked havoc on the getaway plans of many.

"It's very frustrating to them because they want to know if they're going to be able to go on their trips that are already planned, and I'm sure it's disappointing for some people," Lindsley said.

However, a summer reprieve is on the way. The Bush Administration has decided to temporarily lift the passport requirement for those traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda.

Travelers instead would have to show a state department receipt as proof of applying for a passport, and also have a valid form of identification, such as a driver's license.

Officials say the new rules will have a local impact for passengers connecting to overseas flights at other airports.

"Even at this airport, they will have to show their application form to have their passport," Easterwood Airport Director of Aviation John Happ said.

Happ says the temporary lift on the passport requirement should have little effect on wait times for passengers.

"We're working very hard to keep the delays at a minimum," Happ said.

The summer reprieve is expected to give the state department time to catch up with the massive surge of applications coming in.

However, not all are convinced that a temporary suspension is the best answer.

"I think it's just going to be a band-aid on the problem," Lindsley said.