Drivers may get a break paying delinquent Grand Island tolls
Bringing cashless tolling to the Grand Island Bridges was supposed to make crossing the spans easier on drivers. But some motorists are paying through the nose - and the push is on for change in Albany.
The overhead system, operating since the spring, uses electronic sensors to automatically deduct the $1.00 toll from EZ Pass tags. For drivers without EZ Pass, the system reads the vehicle's license plate and a bill is sent to the owner. But some people who either didn't get a bill or failed to pay on time have been hit with hundreds of dollars in fines.
"If you quantified what they were doing in a rate of interest it would be something that a bank would be in severe trouble if they did it because it would hit usury laws," said Senator Chris Jacobs.
Jacobs and Senator Tim Kennedy are pushing what's called the Toll Payers' Bill of Rights. It would prevent the Thruway Authority from imposing excessive fines on unpaid Grand Island tolls. Drivers would also be given 6 months of amnesty to adjust to the change in technology.
"The full fine regime would not take place for a couple of more months. And it's a precedent. They did this before downstate when the Tappan Zee Bridge opened up with cashless tolling," Jacobs said.
The legislation which passed both houses, in June, would also bar the state from revoking drivers' licenses or a vehicle registration for unpaid tolls. The senators are calling the leadership of the state assembly to forward the legislation to the governor for his signature.