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We the undersigned ORGANIZATIONS and MUNICIPALITIES call on the NFTA and our business and community leaders to take action to provide more comprehensive and sustainable public transportation service for the Buffalo-Niagara Region. Specifically, we call for: (1) extensions of Metro Rail along the highest-demand corridors with (2) intermodal connectivity to air and inter-city rail and (3) establishment of long-term sustainable transit funding.
Why We Need It:
Attracting & Keeping Population - Growing numbers of Americans prefer regions with multimodal mobility systems, including the option to live free of car dependency. They want walkable, bikeable, mixed-use neighborhoods connected by transit.
Parking & Congestion - Transit moves people safely and cost-effectively without scarring our waterfront, parkland, and downtown streetscapes with acres of parking. Park-and-ride lots serve those outside the city while decreasing congestion, air pollution, and on-street parking shortages.
Equity - Over 1/3 of Buffalo households do not own cars (2000 US Census). Rapid transit expands mobility options for all socioeconomic groups.
Economics - Investments in light rail and bus rapid transit are transforming cities across North America and stimulating commercial and residential development (Transit-Oriented Development). Buffalo is blessed with publicly owned rail rights-of-way along many heavily traveled corridors. These make expansion of our light rail system among the nation's most affordable. UB’s Regional Institute and the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council recommends “making transit funding and system improvement a top priority” (One Region Forward Final Draft Plan, 2014).
The Environment - Automobiles in NYS collectively emit 70 million metric tons of CO2 per year, more than carbon emissions from industrial, residential, or commercial sources (2014 Draft NYS Energy Plan). Of all transportation-generated greenhouse gases, 61% come from passenger cars and light trucks (US EPA, 2013). We must offer car-free options to combat global warming.
We call for the NFTA and Buffalo-Niagara leaders to:
Extend Metro Rail
• To the airport – Prioritize extension of the Metro Rail from Downtown Buffalo to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport along our existing publicly owned rail rights-of-way. This extension will intersect many NFTA bus lines while connecting downtown with Larkinville, Central Terminal, Galleria Mall, Thruway Mall, and a Park-&-Ride near the I-90.
• To the UB Amherst campus – Build on the ongoing NFTA study to connect all three UB campuses and to facilitate access to suburban shopping and jobs.
• Through the DL&W Terminal – Extend Metro Rail through the DL&W Terminal to Larkinville, a first step in connecting to the airport while enabling car-free access to the First Niagara Arena, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, our Waterfront, the Cobblestone District, and Downtown.
• To the Bills Stadium – Any investment in a new or refurbished Buffalo Bills Stadium should ensure Metro Rail access, folding Metro Rail enhancements into its financing. This will satisfy the intense travel demand on game days while improving the experience for those who choose to drive and tailgate. Stadium parking can double as Park-&-Ride lots for everyday commuting year-round.
• To the Southtowns and Tonawandas – Preserve existing rail rights-of-way, so the original vision for a comprehensive network of light rail can ultimately be realized.
Create Multimodal Amtrak / Metro Rail Stations
• Eliminate the existing Depew and Exchange Street Amtrak Stations and replace them with Multimodal Transportation Centers suitable for 21st century service and eventually high-speed rail. These must feature a rapid transit connection to the airport and include bicycle and car share facilities. One station should be near Buffalo’s waterfront and a second located further east where it can serve all Amtrak destinations. A restored Central Terminal should be a candidate for the second site.
Establish long-term, sustainable dedicated funding
• Establish permanent, reliable and sufficient funding streams for comprehensive multimodal public transportation in Buffalo-Niagara. This funding must be able to sustain the operations and maintenance of Metro Rail and all connecting transit services and infrastructure.