Expanded Metro Rail would benefit region
The Cheektowaga Town Board should be applauded for its support of Metro Rail extension to the Walden Galleria and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Dependable, high-quality transit service like that of Metro Rail is a huge benefit for the region. It can help reduce traffic and fossil fuel emissions. It can contribute to the economic health of the region.
The cost of this extension is more manageable than that of the proposed Amherst extension, using publicly owned land along the route. It has the support of every community involved. A recent survey by One Region Forward found the airport was most favored for public transit expansion.
The proposed route connects downtown Buffalo with a growing list of attractions (Canalside, Outer Harbor, First Niagara Center, RiverWorks, Larkinville) to an area with both residential density (Cheektowaga, Lancaster, Clarence, Amherst) and retail development (Galleria, etc.). It also provides intermodal connections to the airport, two Amtrak stations, an inter-city bus station and the Central Terminal.
Between the two end points, transit-oriented development can put new life into the economically distressed East Side. There is great potential in connecting to the Northland Corridor at Fillmore Avenue, enhancing the future workforce for local employers. The route includes numerous transfer points to north-south buses, creating an improved network for transit riders and enabling employees living in the Broadway-Fillmore area to get to their workplaces.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority should take Cheektowaga seriously and move on to the airport extension of light rail as its next project.