It has only taken nearly three decades, but Buffalo’s 6.2 mile light rail system may finally be growing. Unfortunately it would only be a couple of blocks, would put a ramp on Main Street to bring light rail trains to the upper level of the DL&W Terminal (when a South Park Avenue or Perry Street surface route would seem to be a cheaper alternative), and connect to a massive parking ramp east of Michigan Avenue at the edge of the Cobblestone District and Old First Ward. All for upwards of $200 million. The extension and ramp are aimed at satisfying parking demand at the Medical Campus and elsewhere.
From The Buffalo News:
The officials are beginning to think about bricks, mortar – and new rails. Serious study is under way about extending Metro Rail to a new parking facility just beyond the system’s southern terminus at the NFTA’s Yard and Shops complex in the former DL&W Terminal as a way to shuttle workers northward to the growing Medical Campus.
The idea begins with elevating Metro Rail tracks at the current special events station near First Niagara Center and raising them into a new station on the upper floor of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Terminal’s vast train shed.
Metro Rail would then exit the DL&W and extend over Michigan Avenue about 2,000 feet to the new parking garage and ground floor bus loop that would serve as a commuter hub.
No pots of money have yet been identified for a project that might cost between $100 million and $200 million, and the conversations are only preliminary, but just about everyone involved is looking to Buffalo’s subway system for answers to “growth problems” – something that has been absent from downtown for decades.
Funding sources have not been identified but officials believe the private sector could build and operate the parking ramp and public funds would pay for the light rail extension.
“Today’s meeting of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Board drew thoughtful discussion about the future transportation needs in downtown Buffalo. I commend Chairman Howard Zemsky and Executive Director Kim Minkel’s announcement that the NFTA will prepare a scope of work for a feasibility study regarding the future of the DL& W site and Metro Events Station,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.
Light rail expansion is long overdue but is this seriously the number one priority?
Mass transit systems are typically expanded to fight against congestion and reduce the number of vehicles on the road and vehicle miles traveled. Here expansion is planned to serve those that drive.