Though cashless tolls have yet to appear in Western New York, their possibilities are creating conversation among local officials. One elected leader believes the system could ease some of the long-term problems caused by the Williamsville toll booths.
Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa said thousands of commuters from across the Buffalo area prefer Main Street or Werhle Drive over lengthy backups at the Williamsville tolls. That extra traffic is not necessarily good for village businesses.
"Traffic volume that seeks to move at the highest rate of speed in the center lanes of Main Street are not people who are frequenting businesses. They're not likely to park, get out of their car, and go to a coffee shop or do some other business," explained Kulpa, who maintains that replacing the Williamsville toll barrier with a cashless system would reduce village traffic volume by 10 to 20 percent.
"If you drive through Florida, if you drive through Ontario, you don't realize that (cashless tolls are in place), you're just driving," Kulpa said.
"You rent a car and it gets charged to your rental bill. You drive down there with your own vehicle it either gets charged to your license plate or it shows up on your E-Z Pass. It's the easiest thing in the world."
The village's heavy traffic has often proven to be dangerous for pedestrians. Traffic backups at the Thruway toll booths have long been blamed for carrying air pollution into nearby neighborhoods. Though the state has had the cashless technology for years and laws allow for its use, Kulpa doesn't believe state officials share his sense of urgency on the matter.