When Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority officials showed plans Monday night to simplify bus routes and fares, many Metro Bus riders who were invited to offer feedback sought assurances that there would be an overall improvement in service.
Norma Stoller was among about 40 Metro Bus riders who attended a public information meeting in Cheektowaga High School on the authority's draft service restructuring and fare analysis study. Stoller wanted assurances that the No. 69 Metro Bus from Alden will continue to run.
"Thirty-five people signed a petition to keep that bus because we really depend on it," said Stoller, who lives in Cheektowaga.
NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said the authority's consultant, Transportation Management and Design of Carlsbad, Calif., has come up with several recommendations to improve service. They include modifying the current 38 local bus routes and collapsing the four existing fare zones now in place into one zone, and charging a flat $1.75 fare to ride the bus, whether one travels inside the city of Buffalo or to outlying areas. This also would call for the elimination of transfers.
"What it comes down to is making Metro easy," said Hartmayer.
Joe Forgiarini, senior manager at Transportation Management and Design, said the key initiative in the city is to try to assure that those 15 major routes run every 15 minutes, at a minimum, all day during the week, and even more frequently during the peak periods of use.
Four more public meetings on the draft plan are planned, including one from 6 to 8 tonight in the auditorium of Erie Community College City Campus, Ellicott and South Division streets.
The transportation authority board will review a final draft of the plan next month, which will be followed by a public hearing in May. Implementation of the new service and fare restructuring plan is expected in September.