(WKBW release) Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs is frustrated at the New York State Thruway Authority’s reluctance to postpone the closing of Grand Island’s E-ZPass Walk-In Center.
According to a news release:
“I am extremely disappointed in the Thruway Authority’s choice to close the E-ZPass Walk-in Center on Grand Island effective today. Obviously they have not received the memo from the Governor that New York State is 'open for business',” said County Clerk Jacobs.
Friday’s closure of Grand Island’s Walk-In Center coincides with the closing of two other Upstate offices, leaving only four offices remaining, all located in the New York City area. This will leave the Upstate region without a location to use cash to reload the EZ Pass tags and access to a representative for customer service questions and concerns.
County Clerk Jacobs and Supervisor Mary Cooke argue that the site’s closure will impact local individuals who utilize cash or check payments to facilitate their usage of E-ZPass and has the potential to worsen traffic congestion in the region during the summer months.
"Grand Islanders need a functioning alternative for cash customers to renew their E-Z Pass in person before the Grand Island center closes," Cooke said in a news release. “The Thruway Authority’s proposal is unacceptable and will result in serious inconveniences for Grand Island’s residents as well as potential traffic congestion region wide.”
Jacobs wants the state to reconsider the decision to close, or at least delay the closure, until the technology is in place to electronically conduct all transactions currently conducted at the walk-in centers. He notes that technology is not currently in place.
“Why not wait to close these locations until this technology is available, avoiding any hardship on residents on Grand Island and in Erie County,” Jacobs said.
In the month of February alone more than 1.66 million vehicles crossed the north and south Grand Island bridges. The Grand Island bridges reported a greater than 10 percent increase in automobile traffic since 2011, the largest such increase in the state. According to the NYSTA, more than 68 percent of the cars on the Grand Island bridges utilized E-ZPass to cross.
“The Authority’s decision to have the effected customer’s drive 32 miles round-trip, off the Island, to the NYS Thruway Headquarters in Cheektowaga to resolve their issues or make cash payments, does not come close to being a reasonable or even viable option for the business owners or residents of Grand Island. Not to mention the thousands of travelers visiting Erie County who utilize E-ZPass.”