Quote of the Day: City Council Pushing Light Rail Extension

Could the proposed Federal economic stimulus package lead to expansion of the light rail system?  Yes, if some Buffalo Common Council members have their say.  This afternoon the Common Council will consider a resolution that calls on the NFTA and WNY’s congressional delegation to apply for stimulus money to extend light rail.  The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer has the quote of the day from Council President David A. Franczyk:

“I think it would be a perfect use of federal stimulus money,” said Franczyk. “People realize that infrastructure is important.”

Sam Hoyt is on board:

Common Council members aren’t alone in their push to extend Metro Rail. State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, a Buffalo Democrat, has long advocated a public transit extension that would link Buffalo to the North Campus. At a hearing sponsored by federal lawmakers last summer, Hoyt underscored the benefits of advancing such a project. He also voiced support for a high-speed rail line that would link New York City and Toronto with Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

About the author  ⁄ WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

100 comments
whatever
whatever

300 - Students living on North Campus can and (many) do already go downtown. I agree there'd be some boost in students coming downtown if there was LR extension to North, but it's not as if some don't go already. And if the extension had a stop near stores in Amherst, then you'd have some city residents moving some shopping there from Buffalo. Also, some downtown workers would more easily decide to live in Amherst. So the money flow would work both ways, not totally in favor of the city.

Anyhow none of that is economic growth, just shifting. Suppose you grew the number of downtown trips by 50% of students who live on North Campus. That might mean some more spending in bars and restaurants downtown, but much of that spending already happens somewere locally. There's no reason to think a lot more economic activity in WNY would result from a few thousand more downtown trips a year by students.

whatever
whatever

sony - None of that is certain private sector investment other than Bass Pro (assuming BP happens, which it sounds like it will). And I don't think Bass Pro coming to Buffalo or not was influenced by the Sabres and Bandits playing 50 nights per year.

So about the other things - the canal harbor, canal/lakes museum, DL&W visitors center... I suppose you could say there's been govt spending spin-off following the govt-funded hockey arena.

But I doubt that Albany would've refused to fund the canal harbor, canal museum, and DL&W visitors center (or refused to build the Bass Pro building for them, and related parking ramp), if the arena wasn't there. So if Albany would have gladly built all that stuff anyhow, I don't see how the arena can be credited as having all that as spin off.

The honest case to be made for funding the hockey area was to keep the Sabres here, large concerts, etc. - as quality of life issues and morale boosters. Them claiming a big private sector spin-off would happen around the arena was either dishonest or clueless.

Damn, now I see littleacorn already said mostly the same thing. Oh well.

300miles
300miles

The extension to UB North would be more likely to create spinoff because of the type of residents it's connecting. Younger people today are more excited about the city than older people are. They are more likely to take the train downtown on a weekly basis for nightlife. And they are also more likely to use the rail connection to live downtown and commute back to campus. Students are more mobile since they're housing is only temporary anyway. Students are also more likely to not even have a car. It seems like a no-brainer.

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

Get used to it. Washington DC is now the 'world's financial capital' and they have effectively nationalized banking, not because private lenders aren't out there, but because they aren't lending. When you look at arenas like HSBC, you see a similar pattern: the pump gets primed by local and state governments before the traffic, the interest, and the confidence in the area spawns private investment. It's not surprising that Buffalo might strike the balance more towards government involvement because for so many decades, private money scorned a city in decline.

littleacorn
littleacorn

A comment on spin-offs, A dozen years ago I heard a mid day talk by an economist who concluded a lecture on public sports facilities by saying that it takes only a basic accountant to total the liabilities of a stadium or sports complex but it takes a creative politician to total the revenues. Unfortunately for this area we have probably both second rate accountants and an electorate that lacks the ability to differentiate between public and private investment. I will venture a guess that many developments planned by our public entities operate like the sports complexes.

Who is investing in Canalside, Cobblestone, Donovan Building? Buffalo and the region keep operating under the cliche that "if we build it they will come. " Maybe" they" are here but I need a politician to show me.

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

Whatever writes: "To answer the "why", spin-off just hasn't happen around light rail stations here. Spin-off is a very difficult thing to predict. Anyone who was in Buffalo when HSBC Arena was being planned and sold to the public by Larry Quinn and others, will tell you their predictions of spin-off around the arena were huge. What really happened was basically nothing."

Canalside is underway. The Cobblestone District is undergoing a transformation. The Donovan Building is slated for redevelopment. The Buffalo Creek Casino and Hotel is in the works (more or less). The DL&W Terminal is getting some startup funding for a potential transit hub operation. So of course there's "basically nothing" happening nearby the HSBC Arena.

whatever
whatever

reflip>"Now subtract the cost of one car from your household budget. You'd have a lot more money to play around with. ... That's how infrastructure for public transportation can create wealth for individual families and local economies in the long run"

For sake of discussion, even if accepting your idea that a light rail expansion would reduce car purchases here (I doubt it would reduce it much if any, but let's say it did)... the use of that money to buy other things instead of a car isn't net wealth creation as you describe it to be.

Some parts of the local economy (car dealers, gasoline dealers, car repair) would take in less and others (whatever they spend the money on instead of cars) would take in more. That's not what economists define as wealth creation. That would just shift it. Owners and employees of car dealerships, repair shops, oil change places, gas stations, etc. are also part of the local economy.

I suppose if someone didn't buy a car because of light rail expansion and used that car money instead to start a company here that took off, created jobs, sold goods to national or world markets bringing cash here in exchange for goods or services ... then you could say the light rail expansion indirectly created wealth here. Sounds pretty far fetched. Real wealth creation is difficult and depends almost always on private sector activity to add value to something.

whatever
whatever

r>"The economy needs to get back to using natural resources to create actual things. Hence, wind and water can help Buffalo grow. We need to end our dependence on foreign oil. Hence, wind, water and public transporation can help Buffalo grow."

Obviously its Great Lakes location was the biggest reason for Buffalo's growth until 1950. Then the lakes became less important for many reasons, but they still of course have a positive impact on Buffalo. Looking at Buffalo, Celveland, etc., I don't see recent evidence of metro areas growing because of the Great Lakes, so I wouldn't expect that any time soon.

Generating large-scale electricty from wind is too inefficient and lacks needed consistency to have much impact on any U.S. city's future.

whatever
whatever

reflip>"If you increase ridership (just by adding all those students to the list of potential users), why wouldn't you begin to see more spin-off development?"

To answer the "why", spin-off just hasn't happen around light rail stations here. Spin-off is a very difficult thing to predict. Anyone who was in Buffalo when HSBC Arena was being planned and sold to the public by Larry Quinn and others, will tell you their predictions of spin-off around the arena were huge. What really happened was basically nothing.

reflip>"There is no reason why things must stay as they are indefinitely, even given NY's anti-business climate. You use that as an excuse to do nothing, to maintain the status quo."

No, I don't. Disagree with what I consider wrong actions doesn't mean I oppose everything. I'd change the status quo a lot. Maybe you'd disagree with some ways I'd want to change it. If you did, and then I accused you of favoring the status quo, wouldn't that be pretty weak?

CarlMalone
CarlMalone

The light rail has done a magnificient jobs revitaling Main Street, especially the urban core, if you don't believe it, just walk down the streets and look at all the retail and people.

reflip
reflip

The subway is an asset. I guess there isn't much spin-off around Metro stations now. But I do notice a ton of spin-off around UB North Campus. Why would the subway not similarly benefit? If you increase ridership (just by adding all those students to the list of potential users), why wouldn't you begin to see more spin-off development? Why not put some graduate student housing along Main Street near a Metro Station? UB's projected growth could be absorbed into Main Street, with accompanying development, as opposed to concentrated in Amherst as it is now. Again, COULD be.... I'm interested in what could be. There is no reason why things must stay as they are indefinitely, even given NY's anti-business climate. You use that as an excuse to do nothing, to maintain the status quo. That's how we got in this mess to begin with. You conveniently ignored the part of my original post that said maintaining the status quo would be tragic. You are advocating for the status quo by virtue of saying, "none of those ideas will ever work." That, I think, is tragic.

Additionally, we need to rebuild population density along Main Street. That's why I think student housing would be a good start. The convenience of the subway can do that. Higher population density makes opening a business more economically viable. A lot of people work and go to school on UB North campus. Some of those folks might be inclined to live near a subway station if they knew that a simple 15 minute train ride would get them to class/work every day. Now subtract the cost of one car from your household budget. You'd have a lot more money to play around with. That's how my parents made life work in an expensive housing market on a limited budget. Both of my parents worked, but only one needed a car to get there. The other took the train every day, and I walked to school. That's how infrastructure for public transportation can create wealth for individual families and local economies in the long run.

And why not invest in wind energy? Maybe it's not the most efficient currently, but isn't it possible that someone might engineer a way to make it more efficient to capture and use wind energy? The reason I say that the effort to utilize wind energy should be tied to future growth in Buffalo is because I noticed the other day that Buffalo is pretty windy. If you make your living off that local wind, your job won't leave for a lower-tax state/country and neither will you. Hence, growth.

The economy needs to get back to using natural resources to create actual things. Hence, wind and water can help Buffalo grow. We need to end our dependence on foreign oil. Hence, wind, water and public transporation can help Buffalo grow.

whatever
whatever

reflip>"if Buffalo has a future (if...), then it is in wind, water and light rail expansion. "

Buffalo had a future long before any of us arrived. Buffalo will have a future for a very long time after we're all gone. Wind power won't be a major factor for any U.S. city. It's costly and ineffective compared to hydro, nuclear, and coal.

Buffalo's future will be similar to Rochester and Syracuse, both of which have no LR at all. With or withour LR, the three cities will have slowly shrinking metro populations, faster shrinking urban populations, and stagnant Upstate economies.

Even if somehow Buffalo's LR is ever extended to UB North, nothing major would change as a result in the local economy. Some people's commutes would be a few minutes faster. Most people's lives wouldn't be affected. Cliches aside, how specifically does Buffalo's future depend on LR? Or on wind, for that matter?

If LR had never been built here, Buffalo today would be pretty much as now. There's no companies located here who wouldn't be here if not for LR. None. And there never was much spin-off around Metro stations. The WNY economy is what it is for many reasons, most to do with NY state's anti-business climate.

sambo
sambo

Mono means one and rail means rail....

littleacorn
littleacorn

I would like to know the status of the fiber optic cable that was laid throughout the city during the late nineties. We were told then that it was going to lead to an information technology industry downtown. Was it completed or how much is used and unused?

NorPark
NorPark

Another thing that would be nice to do, would be to sync the friggn street lights downtown, like Elm st. I feel like every single day on Broadway, i get stopped at a light, once it turns green, the light at the next block is turning red, so ass-backwards.

littleacorn
littleacorn

It isn't that Buffalo needs high speed rail but the United State and Canada need high speed rail. When you total the time and cost that it takes for many short or medium flights at the airport, then it becomes arguable that at least there should be some public discussion on high speed rail. I don't know if it is only a cliche in Hoyt's press releases or if he actually believes in it but he is the only long term politician in this area that has always spoke on it. But that alone won't make me vote for him

sbrof
sbrof

the ridership is there once UB north is added into the mix and even more so when UB grows by another 40%...

Have fun trying to drive anywhere near the mall and UB north if light rail isn't extended. Nothing like adding another 11K cars to an already stressed road network.

The airport would be nice and needed for social and commercial reasons but if you want to look at number look at the amount of transportation UB already has to do to move its students around. Tens of thousands of trips are already happening. You want a dedicated source of funding... bring UB into the student pass program. They alone would put enough people on the rail to keep it operating.

reflip
reflip

I'll make this plain: if Buffalo has a future (if...), then it is in wind, water and light rail expansion. Everything else is the status quo. Maintaining the status quo would be tragic.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

The NFTA would have been more successful if UB north and Buffalo were conveniently connected. $2 gas is an aberration and the market will eventually favor more mass transit. Moving or eliminating the 190 is likely in the future. Most cities have realized sacrificing prime waterfront land for the convenience of commuters is not smart or cost effective.

sambo
sambo

They just want to grab SOME STIMULI. The NFTA doesn't have the ridership to expand this dopey rail system. Just like they want to move the 190, are you kidding. Why not build a tunnel from Rt5 under the River and bam right up Michigan. Christ Obama is trowing money around we need to grab it some how. This is how.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Good point about the 400, a taxpayer funded gift to suburban developers and towns. Also the 990 built to accommodate cars to UB and East Amherst. A light rail extension would have made much more sense and benefited many more citizens. Most successful cities have fast and convenient public transportation. It is time to stop subsidizing sprawl and the car dependant culture that has kept our city and region from realizing our potential.

whatever
whatever

The Light Rail Now organization at that link you posted does say light rail is less costly than buses if one looks at the 1998 numbers the way they look at them.

However, recent transit budgets in Buffalo and Rochester seems to contradict that:

1. Rochester's bus fares were recently lowered while NFTA fares increased. When asked why, the NFTA said one of the main reasons is Roch doesn't have to pay for operating any light rail.

2. The NFTA's response to the Common Council today refers to need for some "dedicated revenue source" for additional light rail.

From today's BN: "....When the NFTA last attempted to secure money for a Metro Rail extension in 2001, Meckler said, officials in Washington concluded that none of the options met the threshold for federal funding. He said one concern involved the absence of a dedicated revenue source to help absorb operating expenses. ..."

Whole article: http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/569006.html

If operating LR is truly cheaper than buses, why should a dedicated revenue source be needed if LR is added?

The above makes me wonder if LightRailNow.org was looking at the actual whole NFTA budget for operating the Metro, or just some portion.

300miles
300miles

This should be repeated:

"can someone tell me why the NFTA hasn't been planning for this already?"

QueenCity
QueenCity

face facts about Buffalo. we dont need light rail to the airport, UB and Niagara Falls because we are a bustling metropolitan area.

We dont need to rebuild our freight rail lines because we are the captains of industry

We dont need high speed rail because we of ridership.

We need a metro rail expansion because a large part of Buffalo is as dirt poor as depression era appalachia. Buffalo has high ridership because we have a large population that cannot afford cars and they need public transportation for which light rail is both cheaper and safer.

We need to rebuild our freight rail lines because we remain a major conduit for east/west and north/south rail traffic. Rebuilding our freight rail lines increases the liklihood that our city can add value to the goods and services that transit our rail infrastructure.

We need high speed rail because we are in the middle of four major population centers: Chicago/Cleveland/Detroit, toronto/hamilton, Boston, NYC. Increasing high speed rail means increasing our cities economic multiplier.

Gosh...Buffalo was built as a transportation center...as transportation goes in Buffalo ... then so goes our economy

al labruna
al labruna

Buffknut,

actually the streetcars worked in the city well before the city was @ 500k. more like 300. and there were streetcar lines on every major street.

in any case, most of the population left the eastside not along the route.

meanwhile, our government spends millions on things like the 400 extension to where? a much lower population density for a much greater cost.

i particularly like the "never happen" argument. cant win, dont try! that attitude is Buffalo's fatal flaw.

buffknut
buffknut

The trolly system worked way back when half a million people lived in the City and the suburbs had less population than the city. That is no longer true by a long shot. So saying that an expanded trolly system can work today because it worked 60 years ago is nonsense.

I'm one of those riders on the bus from the burbs to downtown a few days per week that apparently did not need a train to entice me to ride in. The packed bus of other burbites dismisses that argument.

Expanding metro rail at the ridiculous cost it would entail, which most-suredly would not ever come in on budget (have we learned nothing from the Big Dig fiasco?), is just wrong. But it doesn't really matter because it will never actually happen so go ahead and wish for it all you want and let me know in 10-20 years how it went.

al labruna
al labruna

Sambo,

Im sure if you penned a submission on another topic it would be welcome.

Lets see it.

sambo
sambo

Taxes, weather, snow, go bills, elmwood, allentown, over priced cheese, maybe next year, go sabers, miller sucks, millers great, fire ruff, weather, snow, what's it like out, don paul, kilgore, red coats, Elmwood Village is smarter than Allentown, shady, (heroin), taxes, politicians, byron, do nothing, blame higgins, weather, snow, pretentious Buffalo Only gourmet opinions, yuppies named after a banister, you do this he should do that, Hoyts great, republican bad, wben, wgr, news, weather, snow, taxes, jobs, more ****ty restaurants that think they arn't ****TY, weather, taxes, snow, elmwood, elmwood, allentown, hertel, paint this, make this building that, opinion opinion opinion, weather, opinion, **** OFF no one cares about the weather and the Buffalo Yacht Club isn't part of a typical Buffalonians daily life.

GoBuffalo
GoBuffalo

Oh Good. Hoyt is supporting this? I'm sure it will get done like all of those other projects he's worked on over the last 20 years like...?????. Oh never mind, I can't think of one. Maybe this will be the first. Let's hope.

sbrof
sbrof

I actually had that luxury for years when I lived in Allentown and worked on South Campus. My commute was always the exact same time no matter the weather. The Christmas storm 4 or so years ago, the October storm and every one in between never once affected my commute. Always a nice 12 minutes from door to door. That is freeing to know you don't have to worry about scrapping ice, an accident or traffic.

Doesn't work for everyone because of the limited length but for those institution along it, it works very well.

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

Imagine living in a city where you can park the car during a snowstorm, hop on a railcar and make it to work on time. That's the entire layout of Buffalo from its very inception. If the leadership of this community were better directed towards unlocking Buffalo's potential to be a car-free city, this opportunity would have been seized upon in December, not belatedly brought up in February, long after other major cities have submitted their requests.

sbrof
sbrof

So true, sad facts. The problem with the old trolley lines was the fact that they were all private corporations. Once the government stepped in to subsidize and build roads and highways the private industry collapsed.

When I see blind people, people in wheelchairs, and the others who all take the buses and trains it goes to the heart of the social problems we have. Cars are great... If you can afford them, If you can actually use them... for the rest of us we should just fend for ourselves.

Mass transit does something that roads cannot do... provide a truly democratic and open system for transit and commuting for EVERYONE. But wait I forgot... we don't care about democratic ideals... of a better society for everyone. Just our own personal commutes.

al labruna
al labruna

Irishmedic,

Just a quick point of order, Amtrak has 4 trains in each direction - so 8 trains stop in Buffalo a day.

----

I wonder if Nancy Naples who is now on the Amtrak Board has anything to say about bringing HSR to the Empire corridor or a better Bflo to TO connection?

irishmedic716
irishmedic716

I am writing because I feel that the NFTA has failed this region and I truly believe they (meaning the Board of Commissioners) actually enjoy keeping Buffalo down.

Why is it so difficult to expand our Metro Rail when the public is clamouring for it?

I have a fond historical interest in the transit system of old.

We used to have a transit system (almost a century ago) that was one of the most advanced and truly regional systems in the country.

The International Railway Corporation(IRC), had streetcar lines on all of Buffalo's major throughfares. Streets like Delaware, Elmwood,Main,Parkside,Kenmore, Vulcan, Fillmore, Hertel,South Park,Clinton, Seneca,Broadway,Niagara, etc. all had streetcar lines. Many of these streets still have the tracks under the coats of asphalt that have been layed over the years. Some streets like Fillmore, Bailey, South Park you can actually see them coming up through the roadbed.

The street I reside on, Virgil Avenue in North Buffalo was a connector line between the Hertel line and Kenmore lines. The tracks are still there, as any rainstorm always makes perfect outlines of the railbed.

We even had high speed trolleys which were part of an intercity service between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. These trolleys ran on the rail lines which the NFTA recently had ripped up behind the LaSalle Station. Apparently they gave up on the Tonawanda Corridor.

Does anyone realize that these trolleys actually spurred streetcar lines in Niagara Falls, including the world famous Gorge Line. Critical mass back then, who could have thought?

We even had lines that connected to Ontario to reach cities like Hamilton and Toronto. What an idea that would be today!

The IRC had lines which spurred as far east as Lancaster, even into the Southern suburbs.

The IRC was so involved in the community they actually had two streetcars special for funerals that would take the deceased to the Elmlawn Cemetery in Tonawanda.

The NYC Railroad and DL&W Railroads built commuter lines which circled the city limits. The NYC Belt Line is only used for freight anymore and the DL&W Belt Line is overgrown and only a pathway now, but it most of been something in the day. I've read it only cost 10 cents to ride the commuter line around the city!

If you have a keen eye for detail, when travelling down Elmwood Avenue going under the train viaduct you'll notice staircases which used to lead to the platforms for the commuter line. The basic foundations of some of these stations still exist while the home at the corner of Starin and Amherst setback is the only remaining station from the NYC Belt Line commuter service.

My point is this. Why could critical mass work back then, but the NFTA makes it sound as though we could never have such a wide spreading transit system. Hell I've joked with friends that the NFTA would probably love to off me with all of the old IRC maps I have in my possession. They just seem to enjoy a stranglehold on our area, which I'll never understand why?

They have stated that cars sharing rails with streetcars would be difficult for Buffalo, yet it works fine in Toronto. Correct me if I am wrong, but a city of over 3 million makes it work but rinky dink Buffalo at 290,000 couldn't make it work? Please.

Expand the Metro Rail, it's not rocket science. It'd bring you revenue, allow more ridership than your limited source now, create jobs.

Build an Airport Corridor line along with a connector line to Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls line would be easy since the current rail line which goes from downtown Buffalo to Niagara Falls only sees 4 Amtrak trains a day.

We have to be the only community in the world that has a major world wonder in our backyard and doesn't exploit it for financial gain. Oh wait, Buffalo Niagara is home of NIMBY

Jack Keegan
Jack Keegan

Citizens for Regional Transit has done a lot of research and preliminary plans for NFTA Metro Rail extensions.

NFTA Metro Rail Airport Corridor Presentation:

http://citizenstransit.org/airportcorr/aircorpres2004.pdf

NFTA Metro Rail Airport Corridor Map:

http://www.citizenstransit.org/airportcorr/airportcorridormap.pdf

As was commented earlier, the Airport Corridor uses existing rail right-of-ways for almost its entire distance, which makes it closer to "shovel ready" than other options.

Nate Neuman
Nate Neuman

buffalofalling- If the pessimism of your alias isn't enough, your lack of enlightened response to this post is. Metro Rail has not been a failure in Buffalo. In fact it has been quite the opposite. A success. Given that the system was dramatically reduced in size from its original plan, it still carries over 20,000 people a day and connects dozens of educational, health, businesses and neighborhoods along its path. Not bad for only six miles. Clearly you are not a consistent public transit user in this city.

qwerty98765
qwerty98765

Anyone read this story? It is a pretty interesting commentary on the politics that were involved in the original layout of the metro rail:

http://ribaulo.tripod.com/metro.html

I never thought that I would see this in my life time, but I really hope that we are successfull in doing this!

sbrof
sbrof

Light rail constantly has lower operating costs per mile than buses as well. Why does the NFTA use the light rail as an excuse... because the board is composed of a group of people... none of whom are planners or transportation engineers who might have actually had to research this stuff before and they only see numbers they want to see.

closing down the light rail who cripple the overall system. It is the backbone or fast transit and transfer all along main.

Also anyone who has taken the UB stampede buses realizes how ill failed buses actually are for serious transit needs. They all got stuck in the snow. They constantly wait for red lights and you are always waiting out in the cold for them. Something light rail could offer above buses.

You need to make the system more efficient and faster than driving alone if you want people to switch. Buses which are prone to the same pot holes, lights, traffic and weather as cars don't offer any extra service. Light rail could basically bypass all of these problems and in a region where snow and ice are prevalent wouldn't it make sense to invest in a system mostly ignorant of such factors?

Some numbers if you can fight their bad website. http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_lrt02.htm

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

The stimulus package was never intended to make profits or deliver the ideal Free Market World solutions to various problems. It is intended to spur employment by investing in a variety of infrastructure projects. Buying buses would create more jobs in Belgium where most of the newer VanHool buses are built. Light rail, on the other hand, is very labor intensive and much of the equipment can be sourced domestically. The debate about how tax dollars are allocated belongs in a different environment where the Federal Government is not spending into a $1-2 trillion deficit to prevent this very nasty recession from becoming a depression. While we can all applaud principles of thrift and smaller government, what we see before us is the most significant government intervention in the economy since World War II. Buffalo may as well dip its buckets in...unless you believe that this city and region are so unaffected that employment driven projects here are entirely unecessary.

nick
nick

"but if Hertel or any other route's buses are consistently late, the printed schedule is wrong and should be corrected." I guess they should just play the airline game and schedule 1 hour flights with a 2.5 window so that they arrive "on-time."

I don't know of anyone who claimed to be high and mighty for wanting a comprehensive transportation system. The fact is that commuters coming into the CBD from the suburbs would choose to utilize light rail over buses, and that light rail can transport more people using a multi-car transet than a single bus. The ability to attract riders who would normally used automobiles would be paramount in the decision to expand light rail. Buses do not attract new ridership. Also, the expansion of light rail would not reduce bus service within the city, but add demand and create new users.

http://www.vtpi.org/bus_rail.pdf

whatever
whatever

s>"Roads are not completely paid for by those who use them, never have been."

First, "completely" isn't the issue. I wrote that public transit riders should pay most of the costs.

Gasoline taxes are pay a LOT of the costs of roads. And taxes on gasoline, taxes now on car insurance, taxes on tires, taxes on cars themselves, driver licenses, registrations, etc. It adds up, especially in NY state with high state tax on gas, high county sales tax on gas, etc. Also, roads benefit bus riders since the buses need them too.

s>"Buses also don't bring in new riders."

As I wrote, they people who want public transit but consider themselves too high and mighty for buses should get over themselves. Tim Tielman recently was quoted on BRO saying if Americans are progressive enough to elect a black president they should be progressive enough to walk a long distance to a parking lot at the Richarson Complex.

http://www.buffalorising.com/2009/01/master-planning-the-roc.html#SlideFrame_0

Same thing here. If Americans are progressive enough to elect a black president, they should be progressive enough to not demand light rail for their public transit needs.

whatever
whatever

sbrof>"buses are proven to have higher long term operating costs than light rail"

I should've written "lower combined maintenance and operation" costs - my mistake for that - sorry, typed too fast.

How does light rail comapre to buses for combined maintenance and operation costs?

I wonder, why did the NFTA recently say the Metro rail costs are one of two reasons that they need higher fares than Rochester's bus-only system in a very similar city.

s>"They also can not serve the kind of demands or ever be on schedule that light rail can. My Hertel bus has never once come on time..."

Buses can serve the demands on Buffalo fine. On schedule? Their on-time schedule is very good on Buffalo routes that I've seen over the years, but if Hertel or any other route's buses are consistently late, the printed schedule is wrong and should be corrected. Management competence issue.

sbrof
sbrof

buses are proven to have higher long term operating costs than light rail.

They also can not serve the kind of demands or ever be on schedule that light rail can. My Hertel bus has never once come on time... the train is almost never Not on time. If you want a good public transit system it needs to be rail.

Roads are not completely paid for by those who use them, never have been. Never will be. To think that light rail or public transit should is the wrong argument.

Buses also don't bring in new riders. Suburbanites will ride the train to work or a game. They don't and wont get on a bus to do the same thing. Hence by the East West routes have minuscule commuter ridership compared to the train.

whatever
whatever

Even in the category of public transit in Buffalo, light rail wouldn't be the smartest use of money. If spent instead on the bus system, it would bring more benefit, more often, to more average people across the city - many parts of it. Hybrid or natural gas fueled buses on improved and expanded routes would be more useful, and have greater future flexibility and lower maintenance cost. People who want to use public transit but refuse to ride buses should get over themselves. They're really not too good to be seen on a bus.

If federal stimulus construction $ is forced on this area, these would have much greater good than light rail, in order. All of them ought to be funded by state and local taxpayers, of course, but if the fed money is pushed here...

1. Sewer and water main repairs. The sewage flow into Lake Erie and Scajaquada Creek should stop, and we should never again hear how old and dangerous the local water mains are.

2. Expansion and repairs at the Holding Center downtown and county jail in Alden.

3. Make the I-190 safer - maybe remove some exits or something. It's always been danerous, and backups get even worse now after removal of toll booths.

4. Improved bus system.

whatever
whatever

1. Federal $ shouldn't be spent on any construction pork projects for economic stimulus. 2. Public transit should be funded mostly by the fares of people who ride it. 3. When tax money is spent to subsidize public transit, that should use county or state taxes - not federal.

But despite 1-3, if federal stimulus construction $ must be spent in Buffalo, light rail would be a terrible idea. It's good to see at least a few very insightful comments above, especially these two

BacktoBuffalo>"...we don't have the air quality or grid-lock issues that would warrant this kind of investment. If it is a matter of creating jobs, use the monies to improve our sewer collection system that is leaking like a sieve..."

buffknut>"The light rail extension will never happen and would inevitably cost 5 times what any projections have ever been. Why not spend the money, if any actually ever materializes, on projects that can immediately happen and actually improve the core infrastructure. Let's rebuild the aging water, sewer, and road infrastructure. ... Enough of the pie-in-the-sky projects. Focus on improving the core. Every new construction project means a permanent increase in maintenance costs which have to be paid for by our taxes."

To balance out the bandwagon, people should re-read the common sense in full comments of BacktoBuffalo and buffknut. Those should be comments of the day.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

It is incredible that UB North and South are not yet connected by light rail. Lack of vision has denied generations of UB students easy access to the city. This has discouraged the type relationship that would benefit not just Buffalo but the students as well.

QueenCity
QueenCity

whoever thinks that the light rail isnt a shovel ready project is un-informed.

The tracks dont need to be laid to the Airport or to Niagara Falls because those tracks already exist. It would merely require CSX giving up the right of way...so the tracks could be electrified and the signals added for light rail. Its a longer route...but because it already exists...its cheaper per mile for the same unit of passenger traffic.

UB is more difficult...would it be underground? above ground? Its a shorter but more expensive build.

The southtowns had the least profitability...

And high speed rail...well thats going to require a coalition that includes ALL OF UPSTATE from Buffalo to Albany.

The Kettle
The Kettle

I think youd have less trouble expanding the rail on above ground lines on right of ways that already exist. The previously mentioned airport line could be built on mostly existing tracks. The line through tonawanda to niagara falls could be ran on the old Erie line which is still vacant. By doing this youd expand the system without paying for expensive tunnling.

sbrof
sbrof

I don't have any facts but I don't think that Sabres games are the make or break event for the system. The train is standing room only many morning runs as well as during lunch times. I have been taking it for at least 5 years daily and while many do use it for the games it certainly isn't the main focus of the system.

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