The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, having acquired right of way to the Southtowns 21 years ago when it was speculated that rapid transit would be extended there, is willing to sell their rights. The feeling now is that rapid transit will not be extended to the Southtowns any time soon, and the NFTA could use the money.
Gladys Gifford of the Citizen’s Regional Transportation Corporation (CRTC) feels the move is hasty on the NFTA’s part and reasons that if the sale is made, light rail’s future to the Southtowns will die.
NFTA Executive Director Lawrence Meckler, according to The Buffalo News, sees the sale as a way to “shed surplus properties” in a revenue raising effort. He says that as far back as 2001, a study performed showed the Southtowns connector to be the “least likely to be funded.” Amherst and the Tonawandas are also in the running for new light rail, and thought to be more likely candidates.
The 1.6 miles of track formerly owned by Delaware, Lackawanna and Western encompasses 36 acres comprised 12 individual parcels. Meckler sees the land as having too short a reach to truly serve the Southtowns, saying that in order to make the route feasible, it would require more land purchase. With no money for new land and no fare increases in sight, Meckler believes the sale is the NFTA’s only option.
Gifford says that this isn’t necessarily a fact, and that the land needed may be publicly owned by Erie County anyway. The CRTC is actively looking into it. Gifford also says that it shouldn’t be called a connector, but rather a corridor. The term connector goes back to a DOT project, whereas “corridor” simply denotes the rail path.
“The whole issue has to become a public issue. This was a backroom deal with no public input,” Gifford said. “The actual possibilities are varied and deserve to be looked at by the public. The NFTA board in 1992 made a decision not to extend the light rail and they haven’t changed their minds since then. You have to look at anything that comes from the NFTA on the subject with a a considerable amount of skepticism. Our objective is to keep the conversation alive so that the NFTA sees there is good backing for extending the light rail.”
Be sure to vote in this week’s BR poll as well as commenting on this post. Please elaborate. Sell or hold?