GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB)–In response to what seems to be a never ending surge of driver complaints, the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) has set up a new process for resolving toll disputes.
It is called the Office of the Toll Payer Advocate–actually a website, not a brick-and-mortar office– and the state is setting up a toll payer website for each of New York’s three toll agencies: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels (MTA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Thruway.
Elected officials, consumer watchdogs, and the courts in Western New York have been subject to a steady stream of complaints since the Grand Island bridge tolls went cashless, in 2018.
Drivers have been taking issue with late penalties, late toll notices, mistakes by the electronic toll collection system that replaced the physical toll booths.
Joe Flanagan received a violation notice that was mailed in a bright orange envelope, telling him a $1.00 toll he incurred in July has turned into a $51 bill due to a $50 late fee.
“What I would characterize as a threatening notice in the mail, in this orange envelope with the black lettering, telling me that I have ignored two previous billings.”
Flanagan said he never received any of the previous bills, the dunning notice in the orange envelope was his first notification which can be an alarming because it reads, failure to respond can lead to the “imposition of additional fees and charges and/or suspension of your vehicle registration,” in bold type.
In order to challenge the late fee, Flanagan contacted E-ZPass Customer Service, and wrote a letter along with a check for $3.00, which is what the retired cop insisted was all he owed for the three tolls.
After that Flanagan logged onto the new Office of the Toll Payer Advocate website.
A representative for the advocate program called Flanagan within 24 hours, and after a lengthy discussion agreed to accept the $3.00 check to settle his dispute.
To be eligible for the new dispute resolution program, a motorist has to first try to resolve their complaint with E-ZPass Customer Service, or Tolls By Mail. If that fails then you can go to the Toll Payer Advocate website.