NFTA needs to increase, not reduce, its services
Recent news about the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority budget is distressing. At a time when transit is more important than ever, we should be increasing service like so many other cities rather than seeing threat of reductions. Our reliance on automobiles is ruining our air and threatening the planet. There is a demand for alternatives, especially among millennials and seniors. In Buffalo, there is also need for transit among the 30 percent of households without automobiles.
We recognize that NFTA funding has been inadequate for many years, causing continuing increases in unmet costs, this in spite of successfully minimizing growth in operating costs to 5 percent, lower than other transit agencies around the state.
The NFTA board will urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to find $10 million needed just to stay afloat. Cuomo has demonstrated his support for Buffalo, and should also advocate for these critically needed funds. However, even with this potential increase in funding from the state, many needs will remain unmet. What will happen to the proposed enhancements for riders between Amherst and Buffalo? When will we see more frequent buses? Will there ever be Wi-Fi and other lifestyle amenities to attract riders who could choose to drive?
Wonderful changes are happening in Buffalo and sensible transportation options for the 21st century should be among them. We are at a crossroads. While NFTA Director Kimberley Minkel has predicted the dire possibility of a death spiral, we suggest an alternative: the opportunity for investment, perhaps from the $5 billion state surplus, and rebirth.
Citizens for Regional Transit