Publication Date

8-2019

Abstract

"This policy brief provides information regarding the expansion of NFTA metro-rail services in east-side Buffalo to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

This extension would connect Buffalo’s highest-demand destinations (including Larkinville, Central Terminal, the Walden Galleria, and the airport) while simultaneously serving Buffalo’s neediest populations with rapid mobility and opportunities for community redevelopment. This Eastside-Airport extension was part of the original LRRT plan and was recommended for study by the NFTA as recently as 2010. The NFTA 2010 study rated the Eastside-Airport extension as highest in the category of potential development (now known as Transit Oriented Development or TOD) and high in categories of market intensity and ridership per line mile. Funds should be found for studying the Eastside-Airport extension while the Amherst extension is designed and completed, so that it can progress towards shovel-ready status as funds become available. As this extension would run above ground, mostly on disused rail rights-of-way (ROWs), trains could transport passengers at high speed without the high costs associated with tunneling. Public ownership of these ROWs also makes this investment especially cost-effective, while the fact that this alignment is separate and away from streets, also minimizes disruption to traffic and businesses during construction.

The world is changing in ways that demand a bold new vision for mobility based on clean, reliable public transportation. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Erie County is not electrical energy generation or industry, but rather transportation (at 40%, primarily from cars). If we expect people to drive less, alternatives must be provided.

This is also a matter of equal access to jobs, food, healthcare, education, recreation, and cultural amenities. Thirty percent of Buffalo households do not own cars. This includes seniors, the disabled, and those who cannot afford cars. The annual cost of car ownership ($10,000) and road maintenance ($25,000 per lane mile) puts a strain on family and municipal budgets alike. Millennials with the option to drive are increasingly choosing not to – and are attracted to cities that provide other mobility options. For all of the above reasons, a solid commitment to expanded, efficient public transportation must undergird our plans for a just, successful, and sustainable future."

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