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West Seneca residents win fight on '75 Bus,' but worries remain

That the "75 Bus" -- the name West Seneca residents commonly call the NFTA Metro Bus twice-a-day, both-ways West Seneca Express route -- is staying, in some form, is good news.

Now, it's the uncertainty that has many of its riders uneasy.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority initially proposed eliminating about 25 percent of its bus routes -- including No. 75 -- by April 1 to close a $15 million budget hole. On Thursday, it reduced that number for elimination to about 6 percent, choosing instead to hike fares by a quarter. The new plan calls for eliminating 10 routes.

The 75 is one of the routes that was saved.

Dorothy Haug, a West Seneca resident who waited in the drizzle at Main and Church streets late this week for the afternoon outbound No. 75 bus, said she appreciates having access to that bus. She said if she were forced to ride the No. 15 Seneca Street bus with service to the Southgate Plaza, her arrival home would be delayed by about 10 minutes.

But she worries about other riders.

"What do the people do who don't have a car [and live farther away]?" she asked.

Riders currently can choose from nearly four dozen daily bus trips in both directions between downtown and the Southgate Plaza aboard a No. 15 bus, but Karen White says she can hardly find a seat when it's time to head back home to South Buffalo after work.

"On the No. 15, three or four in a row are just jammed with kids during the school year," White said. "With all the kids, you just can't really get on that one."

That's why White prefers the No. 75 express bus.

For people like West Seneca resident Chris Bukowski, one of about 100 who attended an NFTA public hearing in the Southtowns earlier this month, it's about fairness to the suburbs.

"From what I saw on those maps instead of calling yourselves the NFTA, you ought to switch it to the City of Buffalo Transportation Authority, because you are screwing the Southtowns," Bukowski told NFTA officials. "We deserve it as much as the City of Buffalo people."

It's the folks like Bukowski -- and even those like Haug and White who ride the No. 75 bus for the sake of convenience -- that the West Seneca Town Board had in mind when it passed a resolution last Monday asking the NFTA to reconsider eliminating bus No. 75.

"As a community, we have a responsibility to each other," said West Seneca Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan.

Meegan said Town Board members had more than 30 residents approach them pleading for help in keeping the bus route.

"That's a lot of people when you think about it," Meegan said. "That is their only source of transportation. They wouldn't be able to get to work without it."

The No. 75 bus serves West Seneca and points to the southeast, stopping at Seneca Street and Bullis Road, Union and Seneca Creek roads, Seneca Street and Transit Road and includes continued service to and from East Aurora.

The No. 75 express bus was taken off the cutting floor Thursday, but it won't stay as is. It remains unclear today how it will look after NFTA officials "reduce, restructure or consolidate" it with other bus routes as they are now planning.

Still, just keeping the bus was a victory for West Seneca, Meegan said late Thursday.

"That's a good day for everybody," Meegan said. "It is important to West Seneca. We're a first-ring suburb. Obviously, with the number of people who reached out to us -- it affects many families."