People all over western New York have different opinions for whether or not the light rail system is a success or failure. The original plan called for a greater system, but due to funding changes and the need to rework plans on the part of city government, Buffalo got a rail system which was only about one-third of the original hoped plan.
Since its completion in 1985, discussions for expansion have come and gone depending on the rising costs of fuel. Plans have now been taken off the shelves and are under review and revision for a possible extension of the system. The NFTA is currently working with Regional Transportation Council on studying the potential for light rail expansion, which if successful will see construction beginning in the next four to five years.
At this time the expansion potentially calls for a link to the UB North Campus in Amherst as well as a connection from Buffalo out to the airport in Cheektowaga. There has also been discussion for also expanding into Tonawanda or even the southtowns.
The idea of expansion was brought up in 2001, but did not gain any momentum for a number of different reasons. Fast forward a decade and now with higher gas prices combined with the investment in updating the existing rail cars, the NFTA believes that the extension makes sense and has a greater chance of being approved. The NFTA still owns many of the right-of-ways which have been proposed corridors for the expansion.
If the expansion gets approved in its full form there is a great potential for a light rail system that does more than just going back and forth on Main Street.
Just for fun I am including a design project I had this semester for what I think the metro rail expansion should look like. Basically my fake proposed system would extend from downtown to the airport on Genesee at street level. The other branch, the Ken-Ton line runs between UB South Campus along Niagara Falls Boulevard, then to Sheridan Drive at the street level and then goes underground below the 190 until reaching downtown. There is also the Campus line which goes between north and south campus. This is NOT from the NFTA and is NOT the proposed plan for their expansion, I'm just using my work as an example.
Entry Image: www.oldtrails.com