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NFTA OFFICIAL OUTLINES PLANS FOR BUS SERVICE

Bus routes and the transit centers in Niagara Falls will become more convenient for residents, Henry Sloma, a member of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's board of commissioners, said Monday.

"The city is changing dramatically," he told the City Council. "People plan their lives on our bus schedule."

The NFTA's recent $250,000 study on travel patterns showed that while most bus routes are directed downtown, most riders are traveling to the LaSalle area, which has more jobs and new homes.

That reverses the findings of the last study, conducted in 1994, and the bus routes soon will reflect that, Sloma said.

"Our goal is to make the system as efficient as possible, minimizing the number of stops they have to make."

Because the center of activity has changed, the NFTA also proposes four new transit centers: a full-service facility in the city's LaSalle section, a large terminal with a visitor and information center downtown and two small facilities at Niagara Falls International Airport in the Town of Niagara and Summit Park Mall in Wheatfield.

At Summit Park Mall, buses now stop far behind the facility in a location that riders consider unsafe.

The city's main terminal, temporarily located on Old Falls Street next to the Conference Center, has no restrooms.

"It's not as good as we'd like it to be," Sloma said.

The NFTA is looking for a new temporary site with better facilities, including restrooms, until it can build a permanent terminal.

Sloma said he hopes that it can be placed in front of the old Nabisco plant at John B. Daly and Rainbow boulevards, currently owned by Niagara Falls Redevelopment.

"We'd like to do it as a public-private partnership," Sloma said. "They would lease the space to us. They have responded that they are interested."

Council members have received complaints from residents about the temporary terminal, in use for a year, and the safety of some stops.

"This is something that's been long overdue," Councilman Lewis "Babe" Rotella said.

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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