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METRO RAIL HOURS AND BUS SERVICES TO BE EXPANDED

The NFTA will extend Metro Rail hours on Sundays and add to Metro Bus service on several routes in Erie and Niagara counties.

The new Metro Rail hours and the extra bus trips begin Sunday.

The last train on the 6.4 mile-long light-rail line will leave downtown at 11 p.m. The rail service previously has ended at 6 p.m. on Sundays, except during highly attended sporting or cultural events downtown. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority officials say they hope the enhanced service will help to begin reversing years of declining ridership.

The changes mark a turnabout for the transit agency, which in previous years has reduced bus service on several routes to save money.

"The goal is to increase ridership," said Deborah Finn, director of surface transportation for the NFTA. "When you want to raise ridership, you have to increase frequency. People have to know they can depend on us."

In the past, current and potential riders could not always be sure if the Metro Rail would run during some smaller events. Their doubts prompted them to seek other ways to get to and from downtown, Ms. Finn said.

"We want people to know they can count on us," she said. "So we're running it. If the message is consistently that yes, we're in business, they'll start using us more."

But it's not just good news for people heading to and from the Marine Midland Arena for hockey games and concerts.

"It's not just an entertainment issue," said C. Douglas Hartmayer, director of public affairs for the NFTA. "It's also a work issue. People do work in the weekends and on Sundays."

Robert W. Gower, the NFTA's manager for business development, said service will be expanded on more than a dozen bus routes, too, including Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst and Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls. The added service will provide more opportunities for people to get to and from work places, shopping malls and schools, Gower said.

Among the changes:

Nine bus trips will be added along Niagara Falls Boulevard, the Route 34 line, with five extra outbound trips and four inbound trips.

Late-afternoon and late-night trips will be added from the AppleTree Business Park in Cheektowaga.

Buses will add evening trips to Niagara Community College on the Route 55 Pine Avenue line.

Bus service will be rerouted through the CrossPoint Business Park in Amherst as it develops.

Bus trips will be added along Military Road in the early morning and late evening.

Trips to and from Buffalo Niagara International Airport will be added on Saturdays and late evenings.

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