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Editorial: Redeployment of troopers highlights how far behind upstate is on cashless tolls

It seems an odd decision, and one that has drawn scrutiny from critics including downstate officials and a Western New York senator, Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s move to micromanage downstate deployments of State Police raises questions of political motivations for him and adequate protection for upstate areas whose ranks are raided for the purpose.

Those redeployments are also bound to raise the hackles of upstaters once they realize that the troopers are being sent downstate in part to monitor the cashless toll system that is in place there and that upstate apparently has no hope of getting anytime soon.

We lose protection to help secure a system that a.) shouldn’t need that kind of attention and b.) Western New Yorkers desperately need.

As evidence, we offer the hellish toll barriers at Grand Island – and we do mean barriers. Backups at those toll booths can be horrendous, wasting time and polluting the air with the exhaust of streams of slow-moving vehicles. That is especially true for northbound evening traffic. Summer Tuesdays are especially bad, with the evening concerts at Artpark in Lewiston, and Fridays are a misery.

The backups there are frustrating and hazardous. They cause problems for those who live and work in those areas and, even with discounts, punish both commuters and especially residents of Grand Island. In truth, they should be abolished, but at a minimum, the Thruway Authority – with pressure from Cuomo – should be moving swiftly at least to implement cashless toll systems there.

And not just there, either, but all along upstate portions of the Thruway, including the two enormously aggravating barriers in Western New York. What’s the delay? Massachusetts managed to enact a statewide electronic toll system swiftly. Yes, New York is bigger and New York City poses unique issues, but come on. This should be no impossible task.

In cashless systems, overhead readers note either signals from transponders or license plates on vehicles that lack the transponders. Bills are automatic. There are no delays and no need to raid the police forces to snag cheaters. Cuomo needs to make sure this gets done here, as quickly as possible.

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