If you take Metro Bus or Metro Rail to work or school, researchers at the University of Minnesota say you ought to feel fortunate.
According to a study recently completed by the university's Accessibility Observatory, the transit service provided by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority ranks 22nd in the nation for quickly moving people from their homes to work places.
Based on data from 2016, the study ranked 49 of the nation's transit systems. In 2015, the NFTA had ranked 29th.
"This project provides the most detailed evaluation to date of access to jobs by transit," says Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory, in a statement released Sunday by the NFTA. "We directly compare the transit accessibility performance of America's largest metropolitan areas."
Researchers gave higher rankings to transportation systems that could get the largest percentage of people to work in 10 minutes or less. Calculations were based on all components of a transit journey, including time spent walking and making transfers. The NFTA provides transit service in Erie and Niagara counties.
“The results of this independent study are a testament to the hard-working employees here at NFTA who work diligently to get Western New Yorkers to their jobs every day,” said Kimberley Minkel, NFTA executive director.
How do riders feel about these accolades for the NFTA?
The Buffalo News spoke to two frequent riders – James Lenker, an occupational therapy professor at the University at Buffalo, and Claire Nollet, a student at Erie Community College. Both gave generally high marks to Metro Bus and Rail. Lenker lives in the Elmwood Village neighborhood. Nollet lives in Kenmore. Both are 56.
Lenker uses Metro Bus and Rail three or four times a week – to work, restaurants and sporting events.
"I buy a monthly pass and it works for me," Lenker said. "I find it remarkably punctual."
Nollet rides Metro Bus to school five days a week, catching a 5:55 a.m. bus, transferring to two other buses, and arriving at ECC North around 7:20 a.m. or 7:30 a.m.. She also takes the bus home.
"Generally speaking, I think they do a very good job," Nollet said.
Metro Bus is not perfect, Nollet said.
"On average, about once a week, one of my buses just doesn't show up at the scheduled time," she said. "That means I'm left waiting 15 to 30 minutes for the next bus to come along, and that could cause me to miss my next connection."
Nollet said she used to volunteer at the Erie County SPCA in West Seneca, but she stopped volunteering there because it took two hours by bus to get from Kenmore to the SPCA location on Harlem Road. "The nearest stop was seven-tenths of a mile from the SPCA," she said.