Posts Tagged ‘Buffalo light rail system’

FTA Skeptical About Buffalo Light Rail Extension

May 5, 2020

Expansion of a light rail line in Buffalo, New York, may give way to a bus rapid transit line instead.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has been directed by the Federal Transit Administration to consider BRT instead of rail because it would cost less and could be implemented sooner.

Extension of the light rail system to the University at Buffalo’s North Campus could cost $1 billion, the FTA noted.

But NFTA earlier rejected BRT and contends that the seven-mile rail extension remains a viable option.

The Buffalo News reported that unnamed “federal sources” said what transit mode that a transit agency chooses is ultimately up to that agency and studying BRT is part of the requirements for an environmental study.

NFTA officials have acknowledged that a light rail extension is expensive and may be a tough sell in the COVID-19 pandemic era.

“The world has changed, and we don’t know what funding will be available to us in the future,” said Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA’s executive director.

The newspaper quoted Lawrence W. Penner, a Long Island transportation advocate who worked with NFTA for many of his 31 years with FTA, as saying the federal agency’s recommendation that BRT be studied again is a “reality check” and a red flag that FTA is not sold on this light rail line.

“It tells me they are hinting to NFTA to get their feet firmly on the ground and look at an alternative that is more feasible,” he said. “FTA is saying bus rapid transit is far more realistic and could be completed far more quickly.”

However, the FTA’s recommendation did favor some sort of enhanced public transit in the “Amherst corridor.”

Although it’s possible that the FTA might ultimately decide that even BRT is not feasible, Minkle doesn’t expect that to happen even thought the FTA recommendation asked NFTA to study the “no build” option.

An earlier NFTA study predicted a light rail extension would generate $1.7 billion in development along its route from downtown to Amherst and increase daily ridership from 20,000 to about 45,000 trips.

Minkle said NFTA rail plan has consistently scored well in all applications for federal funding and received widespread community acceptance.

NFTA rejected BRT in earlier students because it would not attract nearly as many new passengers as rail.

Aside from FTA skepticism, Buffalo is facing fierce competition from other transit agencies seeking a limited amount of federal funding.

NFTA officials have said that construction of the light rail extension is unlikely even in a best case scenario before 2026 and service would not begin until 2030.

Buffalo Light Rail to be Rebuilt

April 3, 2018

A recently adopted state budget allocates $9 million to rebuild the light rail system in Buffalo, New York.

The money is in addition to regular state funding for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which operates the 6.4-mile, 13-station light rail system known as Metro Rail.

State lawmakers representing western New York had argued that deferred maintenance has resulted in declining ridership and deteriorating on-time performance. Metro Rail opened in 1985.

Firm Chosen for Buffalo Light Rail Extension

February 27, 2018

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has chosen WSP to provide environmental review and preliminary design work for the first phase of the Amherst Metro Rail extension project in the Buffalo, New York, region .

WSP will refine a 2017 study of preferred alternatives for extending the Metro Rail light-rail system along Niagara Falls Boulevard from the University Station in Buffalo to the University of Buffalo’s North Campus in Amherst, New York.

The WSP work will also include exploring options for additional storage and maintenance facilities.

‘On Your Honor” Ending in Buffalo

December 23, 2014


The light rail system in Buffalo, N.Y., is ditching the honor system in favor of a “tap-n-go” smart card with turnstile entry.

A pair of contracts totaling almost $18 million also includes new fare boxes for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s bus system. Scheidt & Bachmann USA will receive a $16.4 million design and construction services contract, while Louis T. Klauder and Associates  has been awarded a $1.4 million to monitor design support and construction.

Officials estimate the agency loses 3 percent of revenue due to fare evasion. The new system is expected to be fully implanted in about two years.