GRAND ISLAND, N.Y (WKBW) — "Here we are today and it has been nothing but riddled with potholes along the way," Brian Michele said. Michele, a Youngstown resident, used to drive over the Grand Island Bridges every day to get to downtown Buffalo for work.
He's one of a number of drives who's had issues since the cashless tolls began on the island last March. Some drivers have complained about being overcharged by a few dollars and others claim they were overcharged by hundreds.
"If we knew what the solution was, this conversation wouldn't have to be happening," Grand Island Councilwoman Jennifer Baney said. She's been working with the town board for months, trying to help those impacted. The board has reached out to State Senator Chris Jacobs and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello for help.
Several weeks back Assemblyman Angelo Morinello and I requested a meeting with officials from the New York State Thruway Authority seeking information on a number of operational issues related to the Grand Island Bridges, chief among them being billing issues associated with cashless tolling. I share the frustration of many Grand Island residents and motorists throughout Western New York who have been charged and/or fined in error, or been subjected to threats of having their registrations revoked. I am hoping that the Thruway Authority will be sharing with us definitive corrective action to address these lingering problems, and that cashless tolling will soon be functioning in the efficient manner that we all anticipated.
Barney urges anyone questioning their statement to let their state lawmakers know.
"The more content they have, the more examples they have in their offices, the better case they can make," she said.
Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray said he's also been working with the State Thruway Authority since issues were brought to his attention months ago.
"If I'm totally frank, I wish it was resolved better. I am hopeful they'll do that, but it's been a challenge," McMurray said. He continued, "To me, a perfect resolution is software that works perfectly and also the resources that is designated to solve the problems when people have them."
Grand Island Councilman Mike Madigan telling 7 Eyewitness News that he believes the system was "never validated and is extremely error prone resulting in fraudulent over charges." He wants to see a possible shutdown of the tolls until the issues are resolved.
The NYS Thruway Authority released this statement:
The Thruway Authority is currently looking into a small amount of customers who have shared a concern about their vehicle being misclassified while traveling near Grand Island and using their E-ZPass. We urge all of our customers to call us any time they have questions about their account so we can assist them. Cashless tolling is speeding up commutes, easing congestion, and helping the environment of Grand Island and surrounding communities, and customers will continue to experience its benefits as the Thruway rolls out cashless tolling across the state by the end of 2020.
Senator Jacobs and Assemblyman Morinello are set to meet with officials from the Authority in Albany by the end of this month.