The NFTA Buffalo Metro Rail opened in 1986 as a single light-rail line, covering just 6.4 miles in length along the Main Street corridor. The line is considered both a subway system and light-rail, traveling both above ground and below, consisting of 15 stations. One primary objective was to rejuvenate Buffalo’s Main Street by creating a pedestrian mall, with an eye towards bringing business and retail back to the once bustling downtown street. Unfortunately, the opposite happened and the construction of the line may have sped the decline of downtown retail. Today, many people have dubbed the metro rail as, “The Train to Nowhere.” However, there are some statistics that many have failed to recognize. It is hardly a “Train to Nowhere.”
The metro rail would without doubt be much more useful if it went to UB’s Amherst campus, the airport, the South Towns and possibly up to Niagara Falls. Though, as it stands now, the system is used by 26,000 people a day and connects a significant portion of the main arteries in the city.
The Buffalo Metro Rail system connects the University at Buffalo’s south campus to the city center. It connects students with the city, and encourages travel downtown. The current line covers four city colleges: UB South, Medaille College, Canisius College, Erie Community College, and by 2020, possibly UB North and the new third UB downtown campus. The system also connects many of the city’s main hospitals including Buffalo General Hospital, Sisters Hospital, and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Along with the connection of area hospitals and colleges, the light rail meets the Theatre District, Chip Strip, Convention Center, City Hall, downtown courts, Coca Cola Field, HSBC Arena, the downtown waterfront, roughly 60,000 jobs downtown, and many festivals and events such as Thursday in the Square. JSmith from SkscraperCity writes: Not too bad for a “Train to Nowhere.”
The Buffalo Metro Rail System is listed under the “List of United States Light Rail Systems by ridership” Note that we are #17 out of 32+ light rail systems in the country with the most daily ridership, beating out cities like Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Cleveland, Memphis, Seattle, Newark, Tampa and a whole list of others. Also of note: Buffalo has the third most ridership per mile than any other US city. It’s right up there with Houston and Boston.
So, before you say the Buffalo Metro Rail is a so called, “Train to Nowhere,” consider the fact that our system is one of the most successful in the country, and is growing ridership everyday. Of course, ridership means little when there are so many other places the line should be run, like the airport, suburbs, Central Terminal and UB North. Yet, with the above places mentioned, and growing ridership becoming more and more prevalent, I encourage you to think twice about our subway system. Consider the Buffalo Metro Rail as a fun way to get to your destination. Take some visitors on it with you when you catch a ballgame, hockey game, Broadway theatre show at Sheas, or a downtown event. It is a tourist attraction in itself. Note that our subway stations are rated as some of the cleanest, well-kept stations in the country, all with a different theme. So why not park-and-ride, or catch a train downtown? It’s quick, easy, and efficient. And, maybe someday soon we will see the metro rail extended. In my eyes, the system is taken for granted by so many area citizens that think differently about it. I feel the need to reverse that way of thinking for more to enjoy this great work of transit implemented by the NFTA. Think twice!
Check out this neat website taking you insde the metro rail tunnels and beyond.
For more information on the metro rail, visit the NFTA website.
Photos above: Nathan Mroz (Buffalonian4life) of BuffaloScenicPrints.com