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TOWN SEEKS A ROLE IN HUBLINK

When the NFTA's Hublink program goes south, West Seneca Supervisor Paul T. Clark and the Town Board want to make sure the town is a candidate to be one of the hubs.

When the Hublink program was started, West Seneca's Southgate Plaza on Union Road at Seneca Street was mentioned as a likely second pilot site, with links to Orchard Park job sites.

But the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority decided to do just one pilot -- in the Northtowns in Amherst -- because of a funding shortfall.

The program, the result of a $700,000 study, is intended to improve access for central city residents to jobs in the suburbs and coordinate transportation programs between suburbs.

In the Amherst pilot program which started last summer, a shuttle service was implemented between the regular Metro bus stop at the University at Buffalo North Campus and job centers in the Audubon area of Amherst.

At Monday's Town Board meeting, Clark alluded to some doubts about West Seneca's future in the Hublink program.

"It seems like there's a possibility that the town of West Seneca may not be completely involved in the NFTA's Hublink system in the way of a immediate future plans to try to test the system," he said.

He introduced a letter to the NFTA -- written as a resolution -- urging the agency to make West Seneca its Southtowns hub.

Clark declined after the meeting to identify anything that had sparked any doubts about the NFTA's plans, and the letter had a few "respectfullys" inserted so it wouldn't seem too confrontational.

"We are not trying to tell the NFTA how to establish the transportation system in our area," Clark said. "We are not experts."

In the letter, however, Clark said, "We may be best positioned to facilitate movement between the first and second ring communities. The Town Board feels it is prudent to capitalize on the investment made on facilities here . . . to make Hublink work more productively in the region.

Clark cited the Southgate Plaza as a facility already in place to meet the NFTA's needs, and described the town as the crossroads between Cheektowaga, Depew, Lackawanna and Buffalo and the Southtowns -- Hamburg, Orchard Park, Elma, Blasdell and East Aurora.

Clark also said West Seneca is the most densely populated of the Southtowns, and that it has several industrial and commercial businesses who are large employers.

He listed McKesson, a medical products manufacturer; the Gemcor aerospace plant; and Allied Automotive as new businesses that have expanded or moved into the town and created more need for transportation services for workers.

"I guess we wouldn't want the NFTA to have any question that we're very anxious to be fully participatory in their Hublink system," Clark said. "We think it could be -- if the whole system develops properly -- a real critical part of our commerce here in West Seneca, and the way that people get around."

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