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Don’t forget public transit in regional growth plans

The recent article about the need to take back downtown surface parking to accommodate the continued growth in city of Buffalo’s development seemed to be missing one critical component – public transit. This is important to note, as studies support that any region whose growth is not at least accompanied by commensurate public transit investment will have that growth stymied, and we are at the edge of that status.

It takes a long time for things like rail expansion to be considered, studied and advanced. The local transit agency does a terrific job in that regards, as the rail extension to Amherst moves steadily forward.

As our region grows, and we hear things like studies that identify Buffalo as an ideal location to survive the ever-increasing ravages of climate change, it is quite probable our growth will only accelerate, and public understanding of the importance of managing that growth from transit needs is critical.

The good and timely news on climate change is that carbon emissions in New York State have dropped dramatically in power generation from programs like RGGI, as well as policies advanced by our governor through NYPA, NYSERDA, the NYS DPS and other state agencies.

The next challenge is the broad understanding that transportation carbon emissions have soared past power generation, and soon commensurate carbon reducing programs and associated funding will be applied to aggressively reduce transportation carbon sources, and if experts are correct on the climate change clock and associated challenges, this must occur quickly.

As funding from RGGI and electric bill “system benefit charges” have been invested in carbon reducing power generation, so must new revenue sources have dedicated funds to expansion of all public transit including rail, and we need to think big, if we are to continue our growth.

Phil Wilcox


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