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Funding for Amherst-Buffalo Corridor Study

At long last, Buffalo is actually making some headway when it comes to researching connectivity between the UB North Campus and the waterfront. Congressman Brian Higgins stated the the NFTA will be receiving a $640,765 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for an Amherst-Buffalo Corridor Study.

“As Buffalo and Western New York evolves it is critical we continue to rethink our transportation needs so we are ready to benefit from opportunities for transportation funding,” said Congressman Higgins.  “Through this public process the NFTA and local stakeholders are leading a community driven review of how to best serve the new demands of a growing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, waterfront business district, downtown core, Amherst-based business centers, large University and soon-to-open University at Buffalo Medical School.”

Supported by a $1.2 million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant awarded to the NFTA in 2011, the new grant is looking at the future connection between Canalside and UB North (CrossPointe Business Park). For years this has been a dream of any Buffalonian who realizes what a mistake it was to put the university campus in Amherst to begin with. With virtually no connectivity, there are countless students who attend UB who never venture into the city, while basically sucking it up for four years until their departure. 

But don’t get too excited quite yet. The study is not solely dedicated to extending the Metro Rail. A number of connection scenarios are being examined, which are, “Light Rail (Metro Rail), Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) with a dedicated right-of-way, enhanced bus service and routes, and a preferential bus alternative.”

The study (Locally Preferred Alternative) will consider the ease of the system, along with speed, convenience, cost, etc. The end decision must also be supported by the community.

 *The NFTA is leading the analysis along with several partners, including:  the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC), Erie County, City of Buffalo, Town of Amherst, University at Buffalo (UB), the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) and others.  


Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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  • Foomanschu13

    Hopefully this transitions into other studies such as connections from DT Buffalo to the airport, Niagara Falls Ontario, and (distant third due to complexity) surrounding suburbs.

  • pfk67

    This will end up with extra buses, just watch.  To extend the Metro Rail is not that big a deal.  Other cities extend miles and miles every year because it is far cheaper than a subway.  To waste $600K to study it is …sad.  I think we would all rather see them extend to the Central Terminal and the airport instead of Amherst.

  • WNYer

    Was in Denver for Phish concerts . . not even trying to compare Denver to Buffalo but the planning and execution of their light rail expansion is an interesting case study.

  • greenca

    Please, enough with the MetroRail extension to the airport nonsense.  It is not needed!  It would be far cheaper to hire a fleet of limos and chauffeurs to shuttle the relatively few people going between the airport and downtown than to build and operate a rail line that runs through the most desolate part of the city.

  • solonggone

    Heh.  You would rather see money invested to extend to the CT, which needs hundreds of millions in renovations and to the worst part of the city, over going to a campus with 10s of thousands of students and an office park with 1000s of workings.  Sorry but that’s just stupid.  
    UB wants to get out of the bus business.  That is one of the driving factors in this.  UB, on it’s own, could force the purchase of annual metro passes for it’s 30,000 students and cover the cost of metro passes for the almost 10,000 faculty and staff.  That would essentially pay into the system an additional 40,000 riders…even if all or any did not use it.  That is 4x the number of people who live in the entire 14212 zip code and it’s before you consider any other riders in Amherst or Crosspoint.
    The metro is run by the NFTA, which is responsible for REGIONAL transportation.  Connecting some of the densest areas of the region to DT is responsible.  Suggesting a transportation authority take on the rehab of a building and the worst part of the city is dense and irresponsible.

  • solonggone

    The best thing to get those lines up is to show that this lines success.  Forget about studies…work off results.

  • Stateofmind

    Why doesn’t UB have a shuttle that runs from the North campus to DT Buffalo currently????

  • greenca

    There is a bus shuttle that runs from the North Campus to the South Campus.  From there one can take the train downtown.

  • Flyguy2pt0

    Not enough. Further explore a Buffalo Airport and a Niagara Falls linkage, tying in Niagara Falls airport and Niagara Falls downtown. Pick up Tonawanda/ North Tonawanda as well within that route.

  • BuffaloBoi

    Bout time. Now let’s go with the original plans and expand it even farther out into the Tonawanda’s, Airport and south towns.

  • Bluffalove

    WNYer Wow, this shows the type of long-term vision a regional planning authority can have. Something we will not see here without a major change to the way Buffalo, surrounding towns, and Erie/Niagara Counties cooperate.

  • Stan Da Man

    White people in Amherst will physically lay on the tracks to protest this. Racism still exists – try taking a bus from Buffalo to Clarence (you can’t)

  • buffalorr

    $640,000 for a study the NFTA will be conducting? Oh that will be money well spent—on the salaries and benefits of the hacks biding their time until the golden NYS retirement kicks in. Not much else.

  • pfk67

    greenca pfk67 Ha, OK, enough.  Maybe the airport idea is a bad one.  I don’t think it is terrible, as the right of ways already exist.  However, my main complaint is the $600K.  Now that is the biggest waste of $$ I can think of.  Let me see.  How about a study to watch grass grow.  A total waste.

  • sbrof

    Stateofmind There is a UB Shuttle. It is called the blue line.

  • pfk67

    solonggone pfk67 I think you will find that Amherst will fight this tooth and nail.  It’s not what the rail will do for Amherst.  It’s what the rail will do to Amherst.  I am sure most of the residents will put the kibosh on it. 
    As for the CT, boy what a landmark to let go.  I believe it to be the key to starting a turn around on the East side.  A long 30 year turn around, but one that, eventhough it is costly, it needs to happen to see any progress.  I’m pretty sure it will happen in the next 5 years.  The time is ripe.

  • mustn’t rush into this.  it’s only about 50 years since the light rail project was first proposed.

  • No_Illusions

    Amherst is one of the most diverse suburbs out there. Especially in the area the Metrorail expansion would go.
    Amherst is also one of the “younger” suburbs. The young professionals moving there actually are more inclined to take transit.
    I’m just saying that Amherst has changed since 1990.
    Looking at presidential election data Amherst might be the most liberal of Buffalo suburbs.

  • No_Illusions

    I doubt it. Nobody actually wants this solution.
    At the very least we’ll see a BRT line, which is affordable enough to be implemented without much headache.
    However, if UB and the general public have their way, it will be light rail.

  • No_Illusions

    Which is why we should be focusing on short effective lines.
    A line to Larkin or Buffalo State is not only affordable, but we know the ridership is there.

  • DylanBurns

    Also, Amherst is actually a city and has a higher population than Buffalo as much as we’d like to consider it a suburb and as skewed as it is from the common perception of what makes a city.

  • solonggone

    Amherst will fight having to pay for it directly but I don’t think residents will fight it…especially if they are educated about it.  
    – Traffic is more of an issue now than when the metro was first built.  This would alleviate traffic.
    – There would be some NIMBYism on ‘bringing in bad elements’ but this area of town already has some issues with public housing and lower home values and not the same as when the metro was first built.
    – The redevelopment and development that this would bring, without adding traffic, would be a massive windfall to the town and school tax.  In a town where taxes are really, really, high.  
    The posturing by the Town Supervisor is just that.  It’s just noise saying it needs to be done right and not with massive cost and construction issues that were a very big part of the initial build.
    As for the CT, I am not saying it should be let go.  I am saying it should not be brought back on the back of a transportation project.  That may sound silly at first glance…considering it’s a train station…but the reality is it should have never been put there in the first place and it certainly is not the right location for it now or in the future.  
    In fact, I think trying to keep it a transportation hub is actually holding it back.  It’s like saying old manufacturing buildings must be returned to manufacturing.  If that was the case, Larkinville would not exist.  
    Here is a idea from left field….
    What if they were to remove some of the tracks and put a deck over the rail yard.  Once done, you could redevelop the CT and new ‘land’ for a housing project or projects.  
    Instead of spending money to revamp the Perry Projects, move that development to the CT site.  In turn, sell the Perry Projects land on the open market for market rate development.  With the new stadium and all of the other stuff going on down there, Buffalo needs to get as much value out of that massive amount of land. 
    Need to add more people?  Build replacement housing for Marine Drive on the same site.  These two combined would put over 1000 units in the Broadway Fillmore district which would bring that area back to life while at the same time opening up two massive parcels of now PRIME land to put back on the tax rolls.    These public housing projects need to be rebuild anyways…
    Oh…and the kicker…if you put that many people on the CT site…That is when it becomes a tipping point to run an extension from DT.

  • runner68

    Half of me thinks this is just the same old NFTA grandstanding to make it look they want more rail…I mean do they really think watered down BRT is the solution? With two BRT options on the table here, something makes me say yes. But then on the other hand, maybe the NFTA has finally come to their senses. 
    A lot of people think Amherst will fight this tooth and nail…but this area of Amherst has changed quite a bit since the 1980s. Again, I’m caught in the middle. I think there will be a fair mix of people in Amherst that will come out in support as well as against. Choosing the route of a potential expansion could either make or break it in regards to the people of Amherst. No one wants an at-grade streetcar down Bailey, or median running trains down NF Blvd. Simply, I believe residents want something thats completely out of sight and out of the way. It’s possible to literally extend the line as a subway all the way to North Campus, but that is incredibly expensive. This is a very dense section of Amherst. Carving out private ROWs is going to be difficult if not impossible. We might see an extension of the line as a subway for a while, but nothing past Sheridan Drive. This will be a slow, median running extension thats no one is going to be happy with. Sadly, its probably the only choice. 
    Its clear UB wants light rail. I don’t believe they would’ve built the new Med School directly on top of the Allen-Med Campus Station if it wasn’t for this. Theres no logical reason that its being built at that location…other than for hopes of a train up to North Campus. Until we figure out what the NFTA’s true intentions are, and what the good people of Amherst will allow, this project is being built on very shaky ground.
    No comment from me about the Airport Line either, at least in this article.

  • BuffaloGals

    DylanBurns Amherst has 122k people to Buffalo’s 261k as of 2010

  • runner68

    BuffaloGals DylanBurns Nothing about your statement is factual.

  • buffalorr

    Solonggone–I think the last thing the east side needs is another concentrated area of poverty. Putting a subsidized housing project next to the Central Terminal would insure its eventual demise IMO.

  • Rand503

    Stan Da Man When I was a student at UB in the early 1980s, the state proposed to repave Millersport Hwy and create a bike path to connect the two campuses.
    I attended the public hearing, which was packed.  I was one of three people supporting it, and the rest of the crowd basically accused me and the others of being communists and wanting to destroy the Amherst.   The loudest applause was when a woman said, first they will put in a bike lane, then they will have no parking on the street, and then we will be Little Buffalo!  
    Every said they fled the crime of Buffalo and that a bike lane will increase crime.  Basically, evil black people will now bike down their streets, burglarize their houses and carry the stolen televisions on their bikes back to Buffalo.
    Yes, the racism was palpable.  These people really believed that if a bike lane is put down their street, Amherst would be flooded with poor blacks marauding up and down the street.  Every one would have to move — to Clarence. 
    There was real anger in the crowd.  Some people got threatening.   All over a bike lane!

  • Rand503

    solonggone pfk67 NO, you are purposely exaggerating to create a straw man argument.
    the estimate to revamp the CT is about $50 million, not hundreds of millions.  The cost to build a brand new train station as proposed by Canalside is about half that. So, take the money you would spend on the Canalside train station and move it to the CT, and you now have half the money needed for a full rehab.  With that, you can certainly start renting out the tower a la Larkinville and create revenue. 
    And Larkinville is hardly “the worst part of the city” as you keep saying.  For minimal cost, we can have a metro station at CT and Larkinville, and also open up the foot of main street to development, which brings in tax revenue unlike now.  
    The right of ways already exist to and the cost to build at grade metro rail to the CT is minimal and also eligible for matching funds.

  • No_Illusions

    Seriously look this info up.

  • solonggone

    So putting poor people next to other poor people is bad but putting poor people next to hundreds of millions in investment is good?

  • No_Illusions

    greenca pfk67 
    Maybe a luxury, but saying it isn’t needed is pretty dumb.
    A line to any airport is usually the first connection any city makes. It also passes by the Walden Galleria and multiple large companies and business parks. It is close enough to Williamsville that we can relieve some traffic at the 90/290 interchange.

    Also, the actual desolate part isn’t that large. We’re talking about 1 mile between LoveJoy and Larkinville. A rail line might just be enough to get that area in between to develop sooner than later.

    The biggest feature of this line is for out of town visitors. Most people don’t want to take cabs if they can spare the money. It also connects the airport with Exchange Street Station and the bus terminal.

  • No_Illusions

    While this is cool and all, we should really be focusing on short effective lines that will allow us to tear down some of the highways crossing through the city.

    If we want Buffalo to develop in density then it needs to be a city where you park on the edges of town and take the train in.

    Buffalo is such a small city by area and there are so many existing right-of-ways, this actually shouldn’t be that difficult.

    These short connections will lay the foundation for more comprehensive connections into the densest parts of the suburbs.

  • No_Illusions

    greenca pfk67 
    What if it didn’t go through the Eastside, but spurred off the Amherst line and came in from the North?
    Williamsville is pretty dense and there are several large business parks and ECC North this could possibly support as well.

  • christopherbieda

    No_Illusions The connect to the airport idea may be broadly true, but none of the three New York airports are connected to Manhattan directly by rail (the JFK AirTrain reminds me of a Disney ride).  Likewise, any of Toronto’s airports.  
    When talking about BNIA, let’s recall too that as much as a THIRD of airliner passengers in and out of KBUF are Canadian ( for whom superior rail access to their flights are pretty much worthless.  (I’m virtually certain that the proportion is even higher for KIAG.)
    Express buses running on the much-maligned (and not unjustly, at least in the Humboldt Parkway portion) Kensington Expressway, rather than locals using Genesee Street would serve the downtown-bound best, though the downtown hotels gut the potential of this service with their own shuttles.  A day-tripper to Buffalo, however, might appreciate it.  Unfortunately, those expresses would be of no help to the many workers who use the No. 24 and board outside the CBD and you’d end up with some form of redundant service (as now exists with Metro Routes 2[0]4 and 8/Rail).  It’s a Gordian Knot, for sure.
    (As an aside, I have often wondered if No. 8 service could ever be replaced by retrofitting additional stations along MetroRail’s existing line.)

  • christopherbieda

    No_Illusions On this, we agree!  Consider a two-way loop rail line (one clockwise, one counter), connecting downtown, UB South AND North via Niagara Falls Boulevard and the airport through a focus corridor (Genesee, Sycamore or Broadway/Central Terminal, maybe even William, but that’s a stretch).  Insofar as fixed rail can lead development, this would be the Hail Mary to end all Hail Mary’s (but a jackpot the likes of which cannot be had with any other rail-expansion proposal).
    Connecting UB, the Med Campus/CBD [our office buildings, Theater District, and FNC/Canalside) and the airport as a single intergrated plan is a moonshot: Expensive, VERY expensive, but very doable from a technical perspective.  While Amherster’s might be apoplectic at the prospect of at-grade rail, I doubt anyone would be anything other than welcoming to such down the center of Broadway from the vicinity of the old NFT Broadway Barn.

  • No_Illusions

    christopherbieda No_Illusions 
    Yeah, but NYC is a bit different than most cities.
    You might have to transfer but you can at least get from JFK and Newark by Rail.
    Toronto would almost certainly have a connection by now if their wasn’t so much discord when it comes to public transport planning. Technically, Toronto has an airport right next to downtown. Just need to walk underneath the tunnel.

  • Well it’s a big plus that the Fed is funding the study, it’s almost like an endorsement of the project itself. In the years coming that could be critical to its success.

  • No_Illusions Actually Buffalo (for a city its size) has less highways that other cities in its class, mostly because many of the surface thoroughfares (Transit, Elm/Oak, Milestrip Rd, Walden/Broadway) shuffle traffic around in their place.

  • Stan Da Man No comment

  • WNYer A couple of hiccups. but this is an excellent example of a well planned system.

  • buffalorr

    solonggone–Yes, concentrating more poor people into already economically distressed area’s is a bad idea as we’ve seen with the disasterous results of housing projects in inner cities all over the US. Investing in areas such as where the CT is located would be the first step in bringing business’s and jobs back creating a more vibrant neighborhood.

  • greenca pfk67 You’re missing the point. If you take a look at this map, you will see the various high-traffic destinations a hypothetical Airport Line would connect to:

  • buffalorr
    i predict that the money will get vacuumed up by an out-of-state consultant.

  • DylanBurns
    whatever its demographic merits, amherst has never incorporated as a city, which is why its website calls it the town of amherst.

  • No_Illusions

    Sure, but if we can get rid of the ones cutting downtown in half, that would be great

  • No_Illusions

    Can new cities even be chartered in New York? The last place to become a city was over 50 years ago.

  • No_Illusions
    as in, did the state legislature ban the incorporation of new cities? no. must be that municipalities have decided against it for whatever reason.
    not a lawyer, don’t play one on tv.

  • 300miles

    I’m really disappointed to learn that the original $1.2 million allocated 4 years ago for this study was somehow not enough money and not enough time to come up with a plan.   How long are they going to drag this out?   (don’t answer that).

  • solonggone

    Rand503 pfk67
    I have read $50m, $60m and $70m.  I have read $50M just to bring it up to code and $60m to do it all.  Of course…most of these voices are from fools like yourself who want to save it.
    When you listen to developers…you know…the guys who know what they are talking about…they peg it at over $100m.  
    Your suggestion to not place a station at CanalSide is just moronic.

  • greenca

    Considering someone in Lancaster or Cheektowaga can drive downtown in under 20 minutes, the idea of taking a train, which would make a longer commute, not counting the wait for the train, doesn’t make sense. The potential ridership doesn’t justify the cost.

  • Brussell Sproutbrook

    Stateofmind Because they already have the Stampede linking the North and South campuses and, as greenca mentioned, the Blue Line linking the South Campus to the downtown campus. The blue line drops you off right by the Stampede stops on South, so it’s a really easy connection. I do it multiple times a week as a UB student living right on Allen.

  • DeanerPPX

    Well this would be GREAT news… if today was actually 50 years ago…

    WHY (wt*F*?) do we keep celebrating ‘advances’ that were overdue and now nearly done with… DECADES ago???

    This is 2015 and the entire region has changed. Yes, an Amherst extension would be /nice/… but it is no longer anywhere NEAR being a top priority for transit expansion. Even if we pretend this is the year 2000 and a new Millennium shines bright in our faces… UB Amherst is still a couple notches down the list.

    I would be willing to sacrifice this Grant… not on another useless study of something that has been repeatedly ruled out as impractical time and time again (and then re-verified about once per decade as just simply being massively too complicated and too expensive)… 

    …and put that money into a study that actually looks at the transit needs of TODAY (or better yet, the needs of 2070, not friggin’ 1970!!!)


  • solonggone

    I think the issue is with housing projects rather than where they are located.  I am not talking about towers of poorly constructed housing.  What I am saying is taking the plans for a mixed use development that is targeted for the Perry Projects and moving it to an area that needs that more.  In this, you get both people and investment.  
    To your point on what is going to bring back the Broadway Fillmore area…I don’t think just investment is what will work.  That’s just throwing money away.  It needs people and frankly people who have the ability to pay 100% for where they live don’t want to live there.

  • greenca a) Not everyone has a car
    b) It cuts down on the east-west bus routes
    c) It cuts down on the need for airport shuttles.

  • greenca

    Buffaboy greenca
    a) 99%+ of people living in Lancaster commuting downtown have a car or are taking an existing bus. The same is is true for Cheektowaga, although bus ridership is probably a higher percentage.  
    b) Why cut down on east-west bus routes?  If anything, their coverage and frequency (and therefore usefulness) could be increased if the money spent operating a rail line was used to enhance the bus service.
    c)  Downtown hotels will always have airport shuttles, regardless if there’s a direct rail line or not.  If there is a free shuttle, the guest would rather have it drop them off right in front of their hotel than take a train that won’t stop in front of their hotel, unless they’re at Canalside of Lafayette Square.
    d) It’s nice that the ROW exists.  That’s not a reason to build a rail line that’s not justified.

  • flexme

    You don’t seem to grasp the FACT that the population and employmentalong th

  • flexme

    You don’t seem to grasp the FACT that the population and employment-along the Amherst corridor from downtown to the Crosspoint business park has exploded in the past 10 years. The medical campus is adding 5,000 jobs, Crosspoint now has almost 9,000 jobs in its boundaries. UB had added 5,000 students going from 25,000 to over 30,000. And the population along the corridor has exploded with over 2,000 new apartments in the last 7 years alone. Just take a drive down Sweet Home Rd or Chestnut Ridge and take a good look around. An expansion is no longer just a dream but rather it is a needed mode of transportation. Amherst has grown up my friend,

  • RobertSeemueller

    Stateofmind UB has one from South Campus to various downtown destinations NOW!

  • RobertSeemueller

    Like they said. Don’t get excited.