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Shibley Comes Aboard

Now that it looks as if everyone is throwing their hats into the ring when it comes to helping to determine where the future Amtrak station should be located, Mayor Brown has come up with his own game plan. The Mayor, appointed to Chair the process by Cuomo, has retained the services and the insight of Robert Shibley to facilitate the planning process moving forward. Shibley will now orchestrate the discussion, which is currently running rampant in various directions. This is unfolding as Governor Cuomo has helped to loosen $1 million in funding for six months of research that will pinpoint the best location for the new Amtrak station.

Mayor Brown stated, “I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for asking me to Chair the process to find the right location for a new modern train station in Buffalo and to Robert Shibley, Professor and Dean of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, because he is the right person to help facilitate discussions. He is known for his strong experience in successfully addressing architectural and planning challenges as well as bringing innovative thinking to his work that will help ensure that this process will be inclusive, successful and stay on track.”

For over 40 years, Shibley has been a dedicated teacher, scholar and practitioner of architecture and planning, in his role as dean of the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning (since 2011). Shibley is not only versed in the Green Code, he also led the development of UB 2020: The Comprehensive Physical Plan as a Senior Advisor to the President (2006-10). Shibley is the campus architect for UB, and is deeply involved with much of the planning that is currently taking place on all three campuses. 

“This is an important decision for Buffalo and the region,” Shibley said. “We need to consider not only what location will best support Amtrak ridership, but how it will promote greater transportation connectivity overall, and how any given site will advance our other goals in the city-building process.” He added, “Given all that, I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions, but conduct the due diligence required to make the right decision.”

Per usual, the first business of order will be to issue and RFP* for the project. Once proposals are in, the public will have a chance to weigh in with the process of identifying where a modern train station should be located, and synergistic opportunities at hand. The Mayor and Shibley will release a draft schedule early next week. 

Once this new train station is built, wherever that may be, Shibley should then figure out how to best downsize the Amherst campus, while strengthening the urban campuses (tied together by train and Metro Rail). There are additional opportunities to build up the university in Downtown Buffalo, including moving the law school to the former Michael J. Dillon US Courthouse (see here). By centralizing UB’s schools closer to the hub of our region, and creating a viable inter-model rail system, Buffalo would be back on track with a lot more of the mojo that it lost over the years.

*RFP – Request for Proposal

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is ‘queenseyes’ – Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world’s largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • eagercolin

    “Once this new train station is built, wherever that may be, Shibley should then figure out how to best downsize the Amherst campus, while strengthening the urban campuses (tied together by train and Metro Rail).”

    What an odd statement. Why do you presume that you have the right to order this private citizen around?

    Beyond that, the only way to meaningfully downsize the north campus is to downsize UB as a whole. It’s the home of almost all undergrad programs at the school, and scattering those programs around the city is entirely unfeasible.

    • mikmo323

      Its absurd to make that statement. The only way to get rid of the North campus is to go back in time and have them put the campus on the waterfront. There are $100’s millions invested in Amherst. Its literally never going away.

      The only thing they can hope is to move the rest of the medical related schools (PT, Dental, nursing, etc) to the medical campus, and then shift some specific schools to the South campus.

      The law school will never move downtown as there is no benefit to have a singular school in a singular area away from the rest of all of the School services. Its just an overly idealistic day dream.

      • Mr. B

        “The law school will never move downtown as there is no benefit to have a
        singular school in a singular area away from the rest of all of the
        School services.”

        The Law School in Niagara Square would put it in close proximity to federal, state, county, and city courthouses, for court observation, and in vicinity of numerous law offices, for internships.

        How is that not a benefit?


        • mikmo323

          Because in the last 10 years they’ve spent a few million dollars on their law library, mock courtroom and overall building at O’Brian Hall. Which is in Amherst. They’re not about to just leave it there. What needs to be finished is the expansion of the Metro to UB north.

          • No_Illusions

            Yeah, but the master plan will eventually see that the Law School is relocated to South Campus with the other professional schools.

            This is not happening anytime soon mind you. Just long term plans that might change once again as time goes on. By that time I certainly hope that the old courthouse has other new tenants.

        • Randy503

          Because law students rarely have time to sit around and “observe” anything, let alone boring trials. I went to law school in Cleveland, and I never once had to go to a downtown law court.

          I’m not saying there would be no benefit, but law school in general is not based on practicalities. There simply is no benefit to watching real world court cases in real time. Very few law students intern during the school year either, so really there is very little benefit.

          Frankly, I think it is better for the law school to remain where it is so that students can be students with other grads or undergrads.

          • LongGoneeee

            No need to share your logic and experience as a law school student here. People like to play SimCity with public buildings…regardless of the actual use case.

          • Mr. B

            No need to be an arrogant jackwagon, either . . .


          • LongGoneeee

            Tell you what. You agree that the idea of moving the law school DT is a bad idea and I’ll admit my comment was arrogant.

      • LongGoneeee

        It’s newell. He posts stupid sh*t all of the time.

      • eagercolin

        The law school is a possibility, since it’s mostly self-contained. But the call for dispersing other academic programs really is wacky, and suggests a total lack of concern for students.

  • Flyguy2pt0

    I would like to see a drop dead due date on deliverables for this one. What is the target decision make date? Otherwise can we predict a process that gets dragged through the mud, bogged down in legal battles, 10-20 years of community meetings and re-drafts, “too many cooks in the kitchen”. I would rather see a decision made and plans to move forward than to drag it out. This needs a reasonable review and study period followed by action.

    • Foomanschu13

      According to Brown’s quote in BN, they have 6 months or the city has to pay for the $1M instead of the state.

  • John

    Central Terminal for the train station… Connect the Downtown metro line to the Central Terminal….How I oversimplify everything as I do not have any skin in the game…. And probably doesn’t make any sense…Lord knows what directions this process is going to take Buffalo. Just hate to see another Rail staion lost (DL&W)

    • Louis Tully

      Why can’t the shed at DL&W be used for the Canalside station? Doesn’t it connect to the Central Terminal anyway?

      • Randy503

        You are correct — the ROW;s extend all the way to the CT and the to airport from DL&W

  • harlan

    not enough passengers to justify any expenditure on a new train station. If exchange street is shot then just close it and go with Depew and Niagara Falls. That’s twice the locations that same size metro Rochester has – we certainly do not need three times the stations for the same amount of population

    • runner68

      Rochester is irrelevant as we have a greater ridership at all three stations than they do at one. With the closure of Exchange Street, Depew is currently the only station in Erie County. The Central Terminal would therefore replace both Exchange Street and Depew, which means there would only be two stations between Erie and Niagara County, instead of three like we have currently. Pouring money into Depew would be a colossal mistake, seeing that there is no room for a siding so that Amtrak can stop at the station without CSX freight getting in the way. Plus, with the Central Terminal on the split of the lines, an Amtrak train can leave right away instead of waiting for freight to move. Remember, Depew was originally built as a temporary station. It still essentially is. Any train station should be in the city where it can be truly multimodal. Depew can’t and never will offer that.

      Depew is out.

      • harlan

        Yes the 3 stations combined have 30 more passenger departures per day than the one Rochester station which is an insignificant number. Based on the 150 or so departing passengers per day there is ZERO need to replace Exchange street. Close it and go with Depew and NF as they are. With less riders than 2 school busses it is foolish to waste ANY taxpayer dollars on any train station. Take the $25 million and use it towards metro rail expansion

    • No_Illusions

      There is $25 million in federal money with Buffalo’s name on it. It would be dumb not to take advantage of it.

      Depew Station sucks because its so far out, Exchange Street Station sucks because it doesn’t handle Boston-Chicago trains. Why not consolidate the two somewhere closer such as at the Central Terminal.

      Niagara Falls is a major tourist attraction, of course it gets its own station.

  • greenca
  • Randy503

    I don’t understand this language. If the Central Terminal is chose, then no new train station need be built. However, a new metro station could be built at Canalside, which should be easy and cheap enough to do.

    Anyway, I trust Shibley to do the right thing. He knows the value of the CT

    • OldFirstWard

      He is also very connected to the elites of the WNY region. It can be both good and bad. Good that he has people of power to reach out to, bad that it shuts out the behind the scenes inclusion of the public. And yes, that matters.

      Yeah, they hold the procedural public meetings and listen to the ideas, rants, and dumb comments, but in reality everything is decided behind closed doors and dumped on the public.

      • Randy503

        You are right. How silly to me to think that the public has any say in this.

  • Rational Thought

    What an incredible waste of money. The Depew station is good enough. We shouldn’t be wasting money on train stations that nobody uses. We have airplanes and cars now. We don’t need passenger trains anymore. They’re a waste of money.

    • East Auroran

      More than 180,000 passengers who used the Depew/Exchange Street stations in 2015 would disagree with you.

      • Rational Thought

        The more than 4,700,000 passengers who used the Buffalo Nigrara Airport in 2014 would agree with me.

        • runner68

          Nothing about your two thoughts are rational. Roads and Air are subsidized far more than rail. Get off your high horse and learn some facts.

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            Hahahaha, rail is the most subsidized!

          • Rational Thought

            Per passenger mile, the only metric that matters, rail is the subsidized many ordered of magnitude higher.

    • Wise Profit

      So they’re a waste of money yet the rest of the developed world is putting huge money into high speed rail.
      But I’m assuming you’ll say they’re all backwards and the United States has it right, correct? If you pull your head out of the sand you’d see the United States is, once again, behind the times when it comes to transportation solely because of the amount of money we allow to flow from businesses to politicians who make domestic transportation decisions.

      • Rational Thought

        High speed rail, even in countries that invest in it, is only profitable at distances below 400 miles. The distance between NYC and Buffalo is well over that distance. High speed rail makes zero sense in Upstate New York. There is not enough passengers to justify the Billions of dollars it would cost.

        Europe is different. Their major cities are typically less than 30 miles apart. Buffalo falls under a poe-ducnk town by european standards. By asian standards, buffalo would be a rounding error.

        • 300miles

          “High speed rail … is only profitable at distances below 400 miles. The distance between NYC and Buffalo is well over that distance. ”

          I wouldn’t say it was “well over” … The distance between Buffalo and NYC is about 400 miles. And besides, this train station project doesn’t depend on High Speed Rail anyway.

  • No_Illusions

    Uhhh, you do realize UB South is the one downsizing (in order to be restored to its former glory).

    According to UB’s master plan eventually 10,000 students will be downtown at their relocated health sciences related schools. 10,000 will be at UB South and will focus on the other professional studies (law, business, architecture). 20,000 will be at UB North (mostly the college of arts and sciences which 90% of undergrads belong to and of course athletics).

    This means UB North will likely grow if anything. Not really a problem if the Metrorail expansion is ever built. Its not like UB North is all that far from the city limits.

    • runner68

      A little over 4 miles right? It really so short of a distance that its hard to believe incremental extensions of the Main Line weren’t made over the past 30 years. Depressing really.

      • Bringing back Buffalo

        It’s not a matter of distance, it’s a matter of logistics. What, are you going to run light rail right up Grover Cleveland and across Sheridan…..I don’t think so.

        • runner68

          If that is the routing thats chosen, why wouldn’t you? I don’t understand your logic.

        • Louis Tully


        • No_Illusions

          There are already two potential routes picked out.

          Check the NFTA’s website for details.

          Option 1 would tunnel until GroverCleveland/Millersport Highway and surface all the way to UB along that route.

          Option two, would have a tunnel up Bailey to Eggert and snake through the suburban parking lots as an elevated line up Niagara Falls Boulevard before utilizing an existing abandoned ROW behind Maple Rd to UB North.

  • Tim

    Help me understand this: The rationale for this article is not to talk about the excitement of a new downtown Amtrak station, but rather an entree to telling half a university to move? When said university has a substantial and growing footprint within the city? Perhaps, after all, the author should stick to pointing out the “turd buildings” in our midst. I don’t care what contributions this one person makes to the city. It’s still takes a city to make a city, while a demagogue rests on his enlightened perch.

  • rubagreta

    First use any available funds to open all of Main Street to cars, which creates real economic development and a much more attractive downtown.

    In the grand scheme of things, this train station is so unimportant, unless trains can average 100 mph from NYC to Buffalo. And that will never happen.

    • Bringing back Buffalo

      And widen the lanes. The last block they did was a total joke.

      • runner68

        You can’t “widen the lanes” wise guy. Station platforms get in the way.

        • Bringing back Buffalo

          …..they could easily be moved.

          • runner68

            Actually no they couldn’t because then the Metro Rail wouldn’t be wheelchair accessible….You obviously have no idea what you’re taking about. But I figured that from the beginning.

      • laldm109

        The lanes are intentionally narrow so that people drive slowly and watch for pedestrians…

  • rubagreta

    Poster said 185,000 people use the Depew/Exchange Street stations. 185,000/365 = 506 people/day. Wow.

    • harlan

      74k use the Depew station per year 40 k use exchange street and 30k use NFNY WITH NLY 1k going all the way to Toronto

  • Vandra

    Central Terminal would make sense if the tracks that Amtrak uses were actually connected to the station. The tracks bypass the actual boarding concourse by quite a bit, and the boarding areas have been physically separated from the rest of the terminal since the link was demolished many years ago. An important element is to consider how to actually get to the trains!