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The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's "University Pass" program will nearly triple in January with the enrollment of Buffalo State College.

Buffalo State students have voted overwhelmingly -- 888 to 171 -- to join the college transportation program, which will give them access to regular Metro Bus and Rail service, plus specialty bus service both on and off campus.

C. Douglas Hartmayer, NFTA spokesman, said the addition of Buffalo State's 10,000 full- and part-time students to the 4,100 previously enrolled Canisius College and Bryant & Stratton Business College students is a boost for the program.

"We've had a very positive experience growing this program over the past couple of years, so it's gratifying to add Buffalo State to that list," Hartmayer said. "It furthers our mission to provide increased use of public transportation and should be a great asset for the students."

Starting with the spring 2005 next semester, Buffalo State students will pay $22.50 via their student fees for unlimited use of NFTA bus and rail routes, plus access to various specialty routes. Next fall, that fee will climb to $25 per semester.

An unlimited Metro Pass, by comparison, costs $66 per month.

In addition to traditional bus and rail service, the NFTA also will provide on-campus van service to shuttle students across campus and to nearby parking lots. Students also will have access to a so-called "Shopping Shuttle," which will ferry them to nearby supermarkets and other retail destinations.

Todd Espinosa, president of Buffalo State's United Student Government, said the wide range of transportation options sold students on the University Pass program, a much different package than the one voted down in 2001.

"Three years ago, they basically offered a bus pass, and it didn't generate much interest," Espinosa said. "This time around, it was a comprehensive package with something for everyone. And we'll continue to work with the NFTA as students use the services to further adapt it to their needs."

The students also will be able to ride the new "Late Night Shuttle," which will link the Canisius and Buffalo State campuses to Chippewa Street and other downtown Buffalo locations on Friday and Saturday nights. The success of that service in a pilot program over the last three weekends has led to its extension through the end of the fall semester. The late-night bus service, which runs from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., will become a permanent student route when classes resume in January.


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