Linking communities and our future . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and its partners have embarked on a study of public transportation options for the corridor connecting Buffalo and Amherst. This could include an extension of Metro Rail, improvements to current bus service or something else altogether, like bus rapid transit. We do not know where the study is headed. We do know that together we can make getting around the region safer, more environmentally friendly and cost effective. So join us. The discussion starts here and now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Some Recent Changes

Based on what we've heard from you at our two June Public Open Houses, comments you've posted to this site, and the discussions we've had with our Project Steering Committee and Project Advisory Committee, we've revised the alternatives moving forward into Tier 3 for further analysis. Tom George, Director of Public Transportation gave a detailed presentation to our Board of Commissioners  you can watch which outlines the results of our outreach efforts and the reasons for the revised alternatives.

A very sincere thank you to everyone who took the time to attend the meetings, review the project materials and provide us with your thoughtful comments! We are quickly moving forward towards a Locally Preferred Alternative and want to encourage you to continue to stay engaged.

We went from this:

To this:
Here's what changed:

We're no longer advancing a Bailey Avenue BRT and have added an LRT alternative to Millersport Highway for further evaluation. This leaves us with LRT and BRT options on Niagara Falls Blvd. and Millersport Highway as well as Enhanced Bus and Preferential Bus.


Well, here's a summary of the comments that provided a basis for the change:
  • LRT is the preferred mode over BRT
  • Most commenters who favor LRT also favor the Niagara Falls Blvd. alignment - citing more opportunities for Transit Oriented Development as one of those reasons
  • LRT is perceived to have a faster travel time, fewer environmental impacts and more convenient with a one seat ride
  • BRT is perceived to be too slow, especially in mixed traffic
  • BRT alternatives moving forward should also have the technical feasibility to support an LRT investment in the future
  • Consideration should be given for project phasing
  • Connectivity to existing bus system, pedestrian and bicycle amenities is important
  • Important to improve transit service for the community, especially for the transit dependent populations 
Based on what we heard from you, the revisions were made because of these considerations:  
  • Bailey Avenue Considerations -
    • Constrained right-of-way - BRT would operate in mixed traffic
    • Limited set backs and high impacts to private property
    • Similar ridership capture area as the Niagara Falls Blvd. alternatives
    • Greater impacts to residential (North Bailey)
    • No additional ridership benefits
  • Millersport Highway Considerations -
    • BRT alignment meets the condition to support future consideration of LRT
    • Provides the shortest travel time
    • Provides a more equitable balance of modes
Next Steps:

Over the next few months the study team will take these four remaining alternatives and evaluative them further in Tier 3. This will include:
  • More detailed definition of the remaining alternatives including additional engineering
  • Capital cost estimates
  • Operating service plan for each alternative
  • Development of operating and maintenance costs
  • Refined ridership forecasts
  • Cost effectiveness (cost per rider)
  • Land use and economic development analysis
  • Evaluation of community and environmental effects
  • Financial feasibility plan with financing options
After the leg work is complete, we'll present the results to you - look for our meeting notifications in the Fall.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think that it is obvious from the poll on this site that the only mode supported by the majority is LRT, why anything else is being considered is beyond me. The Main/Bailey intersection is already difficult to navigate and congested in rush hour. Adding BRT will exacerbate this condition. BRT just isn't a good option for this route. The Tonawanda Line, however, WOULD be very good option, having a dedicated ROW with few cross streets and a lower population density makes it the ideal place for the BRT experiment.

    The comparatively slow acceleration of buses is the reason people find light rail to be "fast". Both modes need to stop less frequently, but the LRVs can be better at acceleration (particularly the rebuilds!) and they ride a whole lot smoother (better suspension system, more mass dampening) than the buses.

    Like it or not, buses cannot be made as cost efficient, environmentally friendly, or quiet as the LRVs already are. BRTs are only marginally cheaper to implement and have higher operational costs. They do not make sense for operation over one fixed route. They require more operators (drivers) for high density/low headway and temporary high demand situations. With LRTs, you just add another car (up to 4 currently, or equivalent of 4 buses) to each train in high demand periods, no additional personnel required.

    Electric power in WNY is cheaper than in most other cities, while highway fuel here is more expensive than the national average by a significant margin (even in bulk). With Hydro-power easily available, this is a major selling point. Tires on buses need to be replaced frequently, and the concrete wears faster due to the weight. Until recently the rails downtown were the same ones in use since the 80s. Rail wheel wear out in years, not months, and they don't wear out the road surface.

    As for which LRT route to choose, that's not nearly as easy.

  3. If the NFTA is looking into cutting costs by eliminating the portion of LRT between UB North and Crosspointe, the study should also be amended to have the LRT continue underground for the entire portion of the routing. As another commentator pointed out above, this system could potentially mix with traffic at areas that are not grade separated (for example, Eggert and Niagara Falls Boulevard), and cause traffic bottlenecks. Certainly if four miles area already underground, another four can't be that bad. The trains would in turn completely avoid the most congested intersection in upstate NY (NY 324 & US 62) and give passengers the comfort of being able to get out of the train and stay warm during the brutal winter months en route to class at UB North or shopping at the Boulevard Mall, if the Bailey extension is chosen.

    1. Underground is much, much, much more expensive than on-the-surface. Like, at least 5 times more expensive to build, and twice as expensive to operate (because of elevators).

      Stay on the surface, because that's thee only way to get it *done*.

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