Let the Transit Revolution Continue!
A 2024 Petition for Investment in Sustainable Public Transit
Whereas; political leaders from across Buffalo Niagara (including mayors, city/town/village councils and the Erie County Executive) and thousands of citizens have signed earlier CRT petitions calling for a Transit Revolution! Whereas; over 50 community organizations (including Coalition for Economic Justice, GoBike Buffalo, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, League of Women Voters, Network of Religious Communities, Partners of a Livable WNY, Partnership for the Public Good, PUSH Buffalo, Sierra Club, VOICE Buffalo) and a growing list of business leaders (including Carmina Woods Morris, Ciminelli Real Estate, Douglas Development Corp.) signed an earlier CRT petition for a Transit Revolution. Whereas; transportation is the single largest source (40%) of greenhouse gas emissions in WNY, meeting Erie County’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord and CLCPA goals will require moving from car-centered transportation to public transit, bicycles, eBikes, scooters, hoverboards, golf carts, walking and other forms of transportation. Whereas; every $1 invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns and over 70% of public funding in public transportation flows to the private sector creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs. Whereas; public transportation for businesses and schools also aids those unable to travel by automobile (low-income, older, and disabled citizens) and other riders. Whereas; hotels in cities with direct access to airports raise 11% more revenue per room than hotels in cities without direct transit access. Whereas; our region has publicly owned rights-of-way (ROW) making extensions to Metro Rail among the most affordable in the country for transporting large numbers of people. Further, since the Eastside / Airport ROW is not on public roads; disruptions to businesses during construction will be minimal. Whereas; The federal government has passed a sweeping, but time-limited, infrastructure bill that provides funding for transit projects. Whereas; Public transportation is critical for closing the mobility equity gap that requires the 30% of Buffalo households and many other area households that do not own cars to spend twice as long for commuting than those with cars.
Therefore, we call on the NFTA with the Governor and state, county, and municipal legislators to:
1. Make transit a competitive alternative to driving for everyone.
a. Extend Buffalo Metro Rail Rapid Transit along heavily travelled corridors to provide fast, high-capacity network connecting major destinations (especially UB campuses, downtown, the airport, Highmark Stadium, Sahlen Field, Keybank Arena, Exchange Street Amtrak Station). b. Provide high frequency bus service (e.g., 10-minute frequencies on core routes and 20-minute frequencies on secondary routes). Increase frequency on holidays and weekends, as well. c. Increase service hours on all major routes and Buffalo Metro.
2. Coordinate road diets with transit improvements, including:
a. Restore the Humboldt Parkway in parallel with light rail extension to the East Side and airport. b. Coordinate Scajaquada corridor improvements with high-frequency bus alternatives connecting the many attractions along the corridor (e.g., museums, zoo, Darwin Martin House, Wegmans/Tops, Elmwood Village, Buffalo State University.) These should be integrated with Buffalo Metro Rail Rapid Transit.
3. Make regional and long-range rail a viable reality in WNY:
a. Initiate formal study and planning for transit connectivity between Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Southern Ontario, especially for tourism. b. Take advantage of Amtrak expansion programs to implement NYS High Speed Rail (HSR) giving WNY equal priority with downstate. Improve westbound service with more trains and build the long planned Amtrak maintenance in Niagara Falls.
4. Integrate transit with regional planning initiatives.
a. IDA’s should mandate transit access when evaluating project incentive applications and incentivize siting on Metro Rail Rapid Transit and existing Metro Bus routes using e-TOD principles. b. Highway projects should first consider transit alternatives.
5. Fix the transit funding problems.
a. Fix the public transit and highway funding gaps.