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Seven Metro Bus service cuts canceled; three remain

Fare increases taking effect May 1 will be enough to cancel most -- but not all -- of the drastic reductions in Metro Bus service that had been planned for Niagara County.

Seven Niagara County bus routes that were scheduled for elimination will remain in full service, according to executives of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

Three other routes, however, will remain on the chopping block.

As originally announced, bus service in Lockport, the Village of Lewiston and communities in Niagara Falls would have been sharply reduced or eliminated.

NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said all bus routes still will be reviewed during the summer, and there may be changes in scheduling or routing in September.

Facing a budget deficit of $7.1 million for the fiscal year that began April 1, NFTA commissioners had announced the planned elimination of substantial portions of Metro Bus and Rail service.

Public reaction was loud and swift: Scores of speakers testified at public hearings that they would prefer a modest fare increase instead of the massive service cuts that were announced. Reacting to those opinions, the commissioners decided to increase fares and to cancel most of their planned eliminations of service.

State legislators also came up with additional financial aid to help subsidize the NFTA and other transit authorities throughout the state.

Under the new fare structure, a one-way bus ride for most adults will cost $2 instead of the present $1.75. The fare for senior citizens, the disabled, Medicare recipients and children will rise to $1 from 75 cents.

All-day passes for most adults will go to $5 instead of $4, and passes for seniors, disabled, Medicare recipients and children will go to $2.50 instead of $2. There also will be increases in Paratransit fares and in weekly and monthly passes, along with new surcharges for express trips. Free transfers between buses and Metro Rail on Buffalo's Main Street will be eliminated, but all-day passes will be good on all buses and rail cars.

James K. Morrell, the NFTA's manager of bus and rail service planning, said this week that the following Niagara County services, originally scheduled for elimination, will be "totally retained:"

*Route 50, Main-Niagara: Service beyond Mount St. Mary's Hospital to and from the Village of Lewiston.

*Route 52, Hyde Park: Full service.

*Route 54, Military: Full service.

*Route 55, Pine Avenue: Full service, including the portion between Lockport and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services campus in Sanborn.

*Route 57, Tonawandas: Full service.

*Route 60, Buffalo-Niagara Falls Express: Full service.

*Route 64, Buffalo-Lockport Express: Full service.

The three Niagara County routes still scheduled for elimination are No. 200, North Tonawanda-Wheatfield; No. 201, Lockport circulator; and No. 210, Buffalo Airport Express to and from Niagara Falls.

The schedule changes are effective April 29.

email: rbaldwin@buffnews.com