When I first saw this new Metro Bus at the corner of Elmwood and Nottingham, I did a double take. For a second I thought it was a touring trolley – the ones that you see filled with wedding parties. The ones that you always wish were actual streetcars, not just attractive buses. Then one of my friends asked if the trolley-looking vehicle was a bus. We looked again and couldn’t believe our eyes. It was an NFTA Metro Bus, and it had been designed to look like a trolley. It even had a bike rack on the front of it.
All of the years of making fun of the Fuccillo wraps and the urban blight that came with them, suddenly disappeared (well, not completely – I still have nightmares about those). What we saw in front of us was a real image-changer for the NFTA and Buffalo’s public transportation. This was a bus that one could actually feel good about catching. It was a bus that visitors to our city might actually comment on. “There are two of these buses in service at this time,” C. Douglas Hartmayer, Director of Public Affairs at NFTA told me. “We’re going to buy some more as we get additional funding. We think that they’re great too, and if people like them as much as you do, that’s more incentive for us to keep adding them to our fleet. All of our new buses are coming in with bike racks. These are all clean diesel burning engines – we also have 54 hybrid buses in service and 30 more coming online in the next 60 days. In addition, another 13 hybrids will arrive in the spring of 2012. The hybrids offer increased gas mileage while reducing emissions. There’s also less maintenance. The trolley buses are an attractive addition to the mix and lend themselves to community events – we can program them to run during events like the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts and the Italian festival. With advance notice an organization can request the trolley buses to run a route coordinating with a big event.”
If this is what we can expect from the NFTA in the future, then I’m down with the NFTA regarding its new design standards.
Now if we can only get them to consider hiring Brad Wales to design their bus shelters. One step at a time, right?
What’s next? An actual trolley system?