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Train Station Summit/Rep. Higgins Letter to NY DOT/Exchange St Roof Collapse

Citizens for Regional Transit endorses efforts by Rep. Brian Higgins and Sen. Charles Schumer to support a new Amtrak Station for Buffalo, NY and for a comprehensive study of optimal location(s).

The current Exchange Street Station has been voted as the “saddest rail station in the US” and is woefully inadequate to support an upward trending Buffalo and its transportation needs. The recent Exchange Street Station roof collapse intensifies the urgency of building a new station.

There are many requirements that must be considered in evaluating locations and design for a new Buffalo train station:

1. The station must provide intermodal connections. This includes connections to transit, intercity bus, taxis, and air; as well as safe and comfortable links to pedestrian and bicycle modes. Connection with Buffalo’s light rail is a major plus, especially for providing future connection to the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.
2. As an Amtrak station, any new station must be able to accommodate the needs of high-speed rail (HSR) in the future.
3. Any new station should provide a gateway to Buffalo that speaks proudly of our city and region. Our new station should say “welcome to Buffalo-Niagara” in a way that reflects our proud heritage and our successful present and future.
4. The location must accommodate adequate parking for Amtrak customers, some of whom will be making extended trips and leaving their cars.
5. The location must be able to accommodate eastbound, westbound, and trains going to and from Niagara Falls and Toronto. This may lead to the need for two stations like today, since downtown locations, like the Exchange Street Station, can now only serve trains going to and from Niagara Falls and Toronto. If two stations are deemed necessary or recommended, one should be the main station serving all trains and the second station should be a smaller station or “stop”.
6. The location should be able to serve tourists traveling between Buffalo and Niagara Falls and thus support Buffalo-Niagara as a regional tourist destination. Buffalo’s waterfront, museums, architecture, and cultural attractions, together with Niagara Falls, already a world-renowned tourist attraction, can make our region a must-visit tourist destination.
7. The location should be able to support those coming to Buffalo to attend sports and cultural events such as Bills and Sabres games, and large concerts.

Citizens for Regional Transit (CRT) has joined the Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) in calling for the development of a plan for a Downtown Regional Multimodal Transportation Center to replace the inadequate Exchange Street Station. The CRT-PPG plank calls on the City of Buffalo to serve as lead agency for the downtown station, working with the GBNRTC, ECHDC, NFTA and other key stakeholders. CRT has also been a strong proponent of Central Terminal as the eventual site of Buffalo’s main train station, replacing the Depew Station. Central Terminal offers a grand architectural and historical venue with plenty of indoor and outdoor parking for both short-term and long-term. Most importantly it can serve all trains, including those to and from destinations to the west such as Cleveland. It should be a key focus of the proposed comprehensive study.

We believe that satisfying all the above requirements may ultimately justify having two stations, as we have had for many years. If so, it is possible that a downtown location can be found that will allow a low-cost, more modest train station or ‘stop” that is affordable, while Central Terminal could serve as Buffalo’s main, grand train station. Some low-cost downtown sites that can be considered are Canalside (site of the old Memorial Auditorium) and Seneca Tower. There may be others.

We applaud and support Rep. Higgins’ call for a comprehensive study of alternative sites and look forward to contributing. We also thank Sen. Schumer for his support in seeking Federal funding for the study. We also thank NYS Senator Tim Kennedy and NYS Assemblyman Sean Ryan for their support at the state level.

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