Free light rail rides on downtown’s above ground section could be derailed thanks to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s budget mess. That is the news coming out of a Buffalo Place meeting this morning. Facing a budget shortfall and reduced State operating assistance, the NFTA is scrambling for new revenue sources and is contemplating charging for rides along the lengthy downtown pedestrian mall.
The Buffalo News has the details:
The 1.4 mile surface section of the 6.2 mile-long Metro Rail line — between Scott and Tupper streets — has been “free” since the light rail system debuted in 1986. Riders traveling into or out of downtown on the underground section of the system, which runs under Main Street, are required to purchase a ticket.
Stamm said the NFTA doesn’t have a specific fare amount in mind, and has not set any revenue goals.
“At this point all I can say is we’re going to take a look at it and see if it makes any sense,” he said.
Fare collection in the free zone is one of several revenue generating ideas that was suggested during this month’s public hearings on a proposed Metro Bus and Rail fare hike. The NFTA is expected to approve a two-step fare increase next week that would raise fees from $1.50 to $1.75 as of Jan. 1, with a second hike, to $2 on July 1, if it can’t close an expected $9 million budget gap.
Note to Stamm: It does not make sense.