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Walmart gets Metro Bus stop directly on Walden Avenue property

There will be a Metro Bus stop directly on the property of the new Walmart store on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced Tuesday.

“Bus passengers will not have to cross Walden Avenue to shop,” NFTA officials said.

The stop is located toward the eastern end of the site, near the Garden Center entrance. Buses will access the property in an area designed for heavy trucks, as authority officials had proposed.

“We are very pleased that Walmart, the Town of Cheektowaga and the NFTA came together to provide a safe and effective solution for the many workers and customers who use public transportation,” said NFTA Executive Director Kimberley Minkel.

Metro Bus Route 46 will stop at Walmart several times a day, seven days a week, according to the NFTA.

In addition, the NFTA said Walmart is constructing a bus shelter for transit users and plans to have it completed in June.

“We promised to continue to study the situation and we, along with the NFTA and the city, have recently agreed on a solution that we feel accounts for both the concerns and convenience of our customers and associates in Cheektowaga,” Walmart spokesman Phillip Keene said in a statement.

The store’s grand opening is Wednesday.

The issue of bus access and safety on Walden Avenue has been a sensitive one for the transit agency because of the 1995 death of Cynthia Wiggins. The 17-year-old mother, who worked in the food court at the Walden Galleria, was killed when she was struck by a dump truck while trying to cross seven lanes of traffic from a bus stop on Walden in order to get to work. Wiggins’ death prompted accusations of racism for the mall’s prohibition of bus access.

In early March, Walmart officials said the retailer would prohibit direct Metro Bus access to the Walden Avenue store site despite a request six months earlier from the NFTA.

At the time, a Walmart spokesman said large public transit buses cannot safely operate in the store’s parking lot and driveways. It also said that having a bus stop incorporated at the site would have had to be part of the plans from the start of the design of the store.

“There is no way we will put someone in danger when a bus can’t turn safely,” Keene said at the time.

In mid-March, a Walmart executive agreed to review the NFTA’s recommendations that buses be allowed to enter the property in an area designed to accommodate heavy delivery trucks at the store’s eastern end.