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State to Support Light Rail Extension to Amherst, Other Projects

Governor Cuomo in his State of the State 2017 address promised State support to extend the light rail system to the UB Amherst North Campus and establishment of a transit hub in the DL&W terminal at the foot of Main Street.  The projects are part of the Buffalo Billion II program unveiled today that includes 20 different programs and initiatives totaling $500 million.

“The first Buffalo Billion brought new life and new energy back to Western New York, and this investment will ensure the momentum continues,” Governor Cuomo said. “The second phase of the Buffalo Billion will build on the success of strategic initiatives that have already made dramatic improvements to the region’s quality of life and create new economic opportunities for all Buffalonians. This is exactly the kind of transformation New York invests in and these achievements will ensure that the Queen City is nothing short of world-class once again.”

The second phase of the Buffalo Billion proposes to accomplish this through an approach that includes funding through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council Awards process along with the following initiatives:

Revitalization and Smart Growth Efforts
East Side Revitalization Initiative: Invest in targeted place-making improvements on key east side corridors—Fillmore, Jefferson, Michigan and Bailey Avenues—which will help leverage additional investment in key, historic assets such as the Central Terminal, MLK Park, and the Broadway Market. Building on the Buffalo Billion’s original $45 million investment in the Northland Corridor, Phase II proposes an additional investment for further site acquisition, brownfield remediation and place-making to further secure Northland Corridor’s future as a light manufacturing neighborhood.

Main Street Revitalization Initiative: Buffalo Billion Phase II proposes a transformative investment along 10 miles of Buffalo’s central spine, Main Street, from the Outer Harbor, Inner Harbor and medical campus to the University at Buffalo’s North Campus. Priority investments include: place-making and access at the outer harbor, as well as attracting a private developer to reimagine the long-vacant DL&W terminal.

Connecting Economic Progress by Rail: Develop a new commuter rail and multi-modal station in downtown Buffalo and completing Buffalo’s light rail extension to University at Buffalo’s North Campus will provide 20,000+ students access to downtown Buffalo and the waterfront, as well as connect urban job seekers with suburban employment centers, helping Buffalo to deliver economic inclusion for all the region’s workers. Additionally, a new train station will replace Buffalo’s outdated Exchange Street station which has been in need of repair for some time.

Suburban Redevelopment/Bethlehem Steel: Bethlehem Steel represents the largest manufacturing/industrial land tract in a first-ring suburb. Phase II envisions acquiring up to an additional 250 acres of land to clear the way for future growth.

Downtown Revitalization Initiative: Similar to 2016’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Phase II would create a competitive grant program for place-making strategies to revitalize the downtown areas of suburban small cities, villages and towns in the greater Buffalo/Niagara area.

The Buffalo Blueway: Create a network of expanded public access points to waterways and historic, cultural and natural assets to spur revitalization and tourism in the Buffalo/Niagara Region.

Encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Health & Life Science Sectors: No element of the Buffalo Billion has done more to build the brand of the New Buffalo than 43 North, the world’s largest business idea competition. Phase II of the Buffalo Billion proposes to double down on another 5 years of the competition with enhanced mentorship and continued 43North equity participation.

New investment at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will support new and expanded incubator/accelerator/lab and maker space to continue to accommodate the region’s growth of start-ups (up 105 percent since 2012), as well as investment in better-commercializing the intellectual property created at colleges and universities as part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. A Strategic Investment Fund will also fuel public/private partnerships in life science.

Tourism
The first phase of the Buffalo Billion helped leveraged more than $200 million of private investment in Niagara Falls and Phase II plans to build on that progress. New investments include the strategic acquisition of distressed lands adjacent to Niagara Falls State Park and the restoration of architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright will be completed to increase their attraction as a magnet for global tourism.

Developing Workforce and Advanced Manufacturing
Buffalo Manufacturing Works, the Western New York Workforce Training Center for manufacturing and energy that was funded through the original Buffalo Billion, will go a long way toward serving the more than 130,000 underemployed individuals in the region, but Phase II envisions investing with many workforce partners in the region to scale up efforts to address the underemployed population more comprehensively.

The facility will move from its temporary location to Northland, which will be transformed into a revitalized mixed use neighborhood that includes light manufacturing and workforce training, as well as residential and retail locations. This is central to inclusive economic growth for the east side and the greater Buffalo/Niagara area. A Strategic Investment Fund will also fuel public/private partnerships in advanced manufacturing, while a workforce development fund will help ensure Western New Yorkers are prepared for the jobs of the future.

In addition, Cuomo promised to “embrace ride-sharing services” like Uber and lyft Upstate saying, “if it makes sense for Downstate, it makes sense for Upstate.”

 

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Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • Flyguy2pt0

    Hoping steps 2 and 3 in the future include Buffalo Niagara Airport via Larkinville and Central Terminal (AMTRAK and or HS Rail epicenter with connect to Metro Lines regionally), and a Niagara Falls International Airport and NF Downtown routes via Tonawanda’s as well all connected into DT Buff hub Metro transfer station. Hopefully make the region super tourist friendly and no need for cars for international tourists to region. If population growth is unlikely then perhaps going after a big tourist market can bring the economic activity into the region kind of like a super sized tourist town that banks its money during the tourist season and then becomes a sleepy town in off season.

    • harlan

      Seriuosly?!?!? NF airport metro rail? That airport only had 118,000 enplanements for the whole year. It averages less than one commercial flight per day on a year round basis and for that you think there is a need for high speed rail service.

      That makes even less sense then the money that was pissed away on the NF Amtrack station.

      • No_Illusions

        You’re forgetting that there’s also the Era G Ross Aerospace Museum, the Niagara Falls airbase and a bunch of warehouses/offices.

        While it would make sense to build a line to that airport by itself, it does deserve a stop if there were to be a line passing by.

        • David Aldinger

          Yes, if a line could go beyond the airport, it would only make perfect sense to serve it. Rail transit to airports almost everywhere else terminates at the airport. Any rail transit line going beyond the airport in whatever city would do quite well.

    • Randy503

      The NF airport is severely underutilized, but could come into it’s own someday. I believe that will only work when the NF airport is connected to other airports via high speed rail. Then it would only need a shuttle to move people to the actual Falls for tourism.

      • JKR

        Airbus 380a… direct flights from NF to Dubai someday.

      • DeeDee

        Unfortunately no respectable airline will every fly into Niagara Falls when BUF is so close with all of the infrastructure needed for airline operations already in place.

    • JKR

      Extend the subway to S. Buffalo.

  • Josh Robinson

    A rail connection to UB North would definitely increase ridership (which already ranks #22 among LRTs nationwide), and save UB some money from having to run the Stampede buses back and forth. It would also help alleviate parking woes at the medical campus, with med students being able to take the train right to the new UB School from their dorms.

    I would love to see the Metro eventually make its way out to the airport, but that connection wouldn’t have the guaranteed ridership that this one does. It’s a no-brainer as long as we can figure out the crossings aboveground (and funding of course).

    • Randy503

      It would be good to extend the metro to UB Amherst, but it will run into a lot of local opposition, that’s for sure.

      I would rather they focus on extending the line to the airport via Larkinville, Central Terminal, and Walden Galleria. Over time, that will actually garner a fair amount of usage since it would go deep into the suburbs. And for an extra mile or two, it could be extended to ECC North, connecting those students to downtown. With an end stop at ECC North, Amherst and Clarence commuters would have a real option to travel downtown, and there is plenty of land to build parking ramps there.

      • Josh Robinson

        Yes, I’m pretty sure the notion of city folk hitching the train to lillywhite Amherst is one of the boogeymen that killed the extension decades ago. UB needs to throw their weight behind this; they have a rare opportunity to connect their campuses and the new Med School all at once.

        I disagree that the Larkinville extension would be more worthwhile. It can be quite difficult to get commuters to give up their cars (the Medical Campus has struggled to get workers to take the train instead of parking in a ramp for years). But college students are often carless already, and thousands would use the train to traverse between campuses and reach the nightlife downtown. They are the ridership we should be targeting, at least for a first extension.

        • JKR

          Amherst is just as much urban as Buffalo. Future WNY, Amherst will carry more population than Buffalo.

          • S Mills

            That’s unlikely. Amherst won’t continue to see the kind of unprecedented growth it saw through its boom that saw the era of white flight and the building of a regional university contribute heavily to its population.

            Also, population trends aren’t static. At some point Amherst will hit its peak and decline to some degree (probably not by much). Regional population will shift, whether that’s back to Buffalo or a different area of Amherst/the suburbs. Neighborhoods will change- depopulate, repopulate.

            Popular theory will generally see Buffalo proper doing better in thirty years, Amherst still kind of a 1B, and second ring suburbs in a decline.

          • No_Illusions

            Amherst still has new subdivisions being built and Crosspoint employs well over 5,000 employees now.

            Williamsville continues to urbanize.

            The Metrorail Expansion gives Amherst a chance to urbanize along its route.

            Most cities have one or two business centers in the suburbs for companies not wanting to pay the costs of downtown rent.

            It looks as if Amherst is developing into such a suburb.

            Also, UB is still growing North Campus.

          • In Hamburg there are 3 apartment projects going up in a 2 mile radius of my house, and one in particular is one of the best in the area IMO.

            http://www.thewoodsatbayview.com/images/TWAVB-rendering.jpg

          • MatthewK

            Amherst will always be a great place to live. (FYI..fairly certain its like 25,000 jobs at Cross point. (not 5k)
            Truth in S.Mills statement is that they’re going to run out of space sooner vs later. One could visualize this now…
            Light rail would give the town an excellent opportunity to take a lower value neighborhood and restore it with denser/higher value/higher tax mixed use facilities. (ala Buffalo)

          • Alex

            Really? Nothing about Amherst indicates “urban”.

          • JKR

            Give us a few more years and you’ll see.

          • BlackRockLifer

            Amherst has about 125,000 residents, Buffalo has 260,000, no way will Amherst carry more population than Buffalo.

          • No_Illusions

            Amherst is actually larger in size, so they have that going for them.

          • JKR

            If you build it, they will come. I can easily see 350,000 or more in Amherst.

      • No_Illusions

        The town of Amherst has said that they now support an extension…as long as they don’t have to pay for it.

        Also, the area of Amherst the Metrorail would pass through is filled with students and poorer residents. Pretty sure all the big box stores and the Boulevard Mall should be pretty excited. That’s 30,000 potential customers with easier access to stores.

        • PaulBuffalo

          @No_Illusions2:disqus, nothing will excite the Boulevard Mall. That place is on borrowed time.

          • Randy503

            Try carrying a big screen tv on the metro back home.

          • PaulBuffalo

            @Randy503:disqus, I lived in NYC for years. I’ve seen folks take full-size refrigerators (and a goat one time) on subways. Where there is a will….

          • Sue2525

            If you ever see that again, we want pictures…lol

          • No_Illusions

            Think about all the housing they could build?

          • MatthewK

            Agreed..i like in the visual online they showed curbside housing super imposed over the boulevard mall.

        • Randy503

          When I was Chair of the Cummuter Affairs Council at UB back in the early 80s, there was a proposal to create a bike lane that would link the two campuses. The State said that they would pay the full cost of creating said lane, including repaving the streets. The lane was not designed to go down Millersport (too dangerous) and so would wind itself through the neighborhoods in between.

          Well! The opposition from the citizens of Amherst was appalling. I attended the town council meeting, and it was packed to the rafters with people opposing it. Their basic argument was that we start with bike lanes, where you can’t park on the street where they are, then there won’t be any real parking on the street allowed, and soon Amherst will be “Little Buffalo” (I know, I am still challenged by this logic)

          The real opposition, though, was unsaid. Several town council people privately told me that these people were afraid that blacks and other riffraff would bike down their street and break into the houses to rob and rape. Only they didn’t say blacks, they used the N word.

          I was pretty shocked by how vehement the opposition was. It was like Buffalo was trying to annex Amherst. The all got up and said that the reason they fled Buffalo was to get AWAY from all this.

          About two years after the bike lanes were painted in, some reporter from UB asked the leaders of the opposition what they thought, and even they had to admit the effects weren’t as bad as they thought they would.

          Still, I’m afraid that attitude isn’t gone. (Hell, with the Trump election, we KNOW it’s still there). So yeah, I anticipate huge amounts of opposition from the towns people of Amherst. They will not like the fact that blacks and hispanics can ride the metro right through their town. And no, they do NOT want these “undesirables” shopping anywhere near them.

          • 300miles

            “I’m afraid that attitude isn’t gone … I anticipate huge amounts of opposition from the towns people of Amherst.”

            Perceptions and Realities about the City of Buffalo, and cities in general, have changed a lot since the early 80’s. Crime was huge at that time, but that’s no longer the case.

          • Alex

            Doesn’t seem to have changed much, other than the (very) small pockets within the city that draw diverse people from other cities.

            Unfortunately racism and exclusion is alive and well in WNY.

          • That’s a pretty incredulous (and a little startling) story that I do believe. I wasn’t around back then, but I question whether times have changed or not. I guess we’ll see soon.

          • MatthewK

            WNY is a much different place then we all were in 1980…
            Amherst is way different and much more diverse than they were 37 years ago. LOL.

        • The BM looks like it’s on its last legs. This is a godsend for it.

          • Jordan Then

            Whole Foods plaza will be the knockout blow for the Boulevard Mall. It wouldn’t surprise me to see H&M, VS, and other retailers move over to Whole Foods and then the BM is toast.

          • PaulBuffalo

            @Buffaboy:disqus, no, it’s not. Within the next ten years, half of the enclosed malls in the US are expected to close. We shop differently now. Boulevard Mall has no chance unless new owners with deep pockets level it to the ground and build a new, high-end destination. The developers of the properly that will house Whole Foods understand this very well and are already taking the lead.

      • Lukia Costello

        Yes.

      • MatthewK

        It makes total sense for them..this is running through the lower end part of Amherst that’s in need of a jump start/reason to re invest.
        They’d be dumb not to support it…they have also said however, they won’t contribute a dime toward cost. Which is cool…all the benefits none of the negatives.

    • Bringing back Buffalo

      Yeah it ranks 22 out of what 26 or 27 stations. Also, There’s a severe drop off from anyone below 18. The metro is a joke and spending money for an extension to Amherst is a huge waste of money. We should never have a line to Amherst before a line to the airport.

      • No_Illusions

        Well of course, the Metrorail is only 6 miles long.

        If you look at boardings per mile however, the Metrorail is doing very well.

        • Bringing back Buffalo

          Does it count the homeless guy who rides the train 15 times a day up and down Main st, so he can stay warm during the winter?

          • Guess what? Turnstiles are likely coming next year.

            http://buffalonews.com/2016/08/31/nfta-considers-turnstiles-at-metro-stations/

          • No_Illusions

            And card readers! Now if they can go the next step and allow for payments by phone.

          • Eric

            Why are you guys arguing with him? His Uncle told him will always beat your links, pics, and quotes. It’s Trump’s America where someone’s feelings always top facts.

          • nesciand

            yeah the 3 homeless people are really padding the numbers, let’s just stop counting. Thank God other cities don’t have homeless people on their subways.

      • Josh Robinson

        That would be out of 38 LRT systems. Most of the cities ahead of us in ridership have substantially larger metro populations. Our Metro is doing just fine – I ride it every day and the cars are usually quite full from 9-5. Do you?
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_light_rail_systems_by_ridership

        • Bringing back Buffalo

          I said 27 or 28 because I’ve seen the stats and the last eight are pathetic and don’t even record ridership. Secondly, even number 17 on the list has twice as much ridership as we do. And yes the tracks are only 6 miles, but take away the people riding to the Sabres games and Canalside and watch that figure plummet dramatically. Also, we’re not going to tunnel all the way to UB North, so how are the tracks going to get there and at what cost? You also have to take into account your ROI, which I don’t think merits the cost at all. There’s also an argument to be made about the criminal element being able to ride the train to Amherst. I dated a girl who’s father was an Amherst cop and he said 80% of the break-ins were from people in the city making their way out to Amherst. On top of that you can check out the crime rate increase from when the NFTA was allowed to bus people to the Galleria.

          • Josh Robinson

            I see the fearmongering argument that killed the extension 40 years ago is still alive and well today! Hide your kids and hide your wife, we wouldn’t want “those people” taking the train to Amherst! Heaven forbid the working poor have easy access to job opportunities in suburban business parks.

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            Au contraire mon frere. The reason why it was killed is because they ran out of money. And why did they run out of money? Because “city” residents didn’t wants the trains running above ground. They through they’d be too loud and ruin their neighborhood. That backlash forced the trains to be placed underground which tripled the cost and forced the lines to stop at UB South…..sooooo…yeeeeah.

          • BlackRockLifer

            That’s incorrect, NIMBY obstruction in Amherst doomed the extension, I clearly remember the debate at the time and the media covered it extensively.

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            That’s not true at all. My uncle was involved in the original planning of the line. He’s told me on a couple different occasions that the line was supposed to be above ground. And when they budgeted for the project, that’s where the original estimate came from. The closer the project came to fruition the more push back they received to put the lines underground, because the city residents didn’t want them running through their neighborhoods. This then tripled the cost of construction and they ran out of money to continue the project. It even says the same thing on the Buffalo LRT Wikipedia page.

            “The cost of the urban section was so high that no funding was available to extend the lines into the suburbs, including the Amherst campus of the University at Buffalo. Efforts to obtain funding for feeder lines have met with little success.”

          • Pig_Lightning

            When the project was actually approved, and the money allocated by the feds for the Metro Rail project, the configuration of the above and below ground portions as proposed was exactly as it was built.

            http://www.nytimes.com/1976/06/11/archives/us-pledges-aid-to-buffalo-for-a-lightrail-system.html

            “U.S. Pledges Aid to Buffalo For a ‘Light‐Rail’ System” NY Times 11 June 1976

            “Transportation Secretary William T. Coleman Jr. estimated that the Buffalo project, Which will run above ground for 1.2 miles in an auto‐free downtown mall, would create 6,700 jobs for the economically depressed city…

            “The line, which will go underground to the northeast after leaving the downtown mall, should start carrying passengers late in 1982.”

            There were in fact construction delays and cost overruns, but they didn’t change the configuration after the project was started. The decision to put the train below ground after downtown came well before the first shovelful of dirt was turned over.

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            Not true at all. I just spoke to my uncle who said in when the idea was first being discussed/planned, it was to be in two phases. The first phase was to run a line all the way up Main st into Amherst, which was their main goal. And they new they could get funding for, because of UB having so many students etc etc. The second phase was to run a line into Tonawanda. When they went through the original planning they received huge push back about the tracks running above ground. So they had to drop the initial plan to run tracks all the way to Amherst, because they new they’d never be able to get full funding for the entire project. They thought once the line to the South Campus was complete, that they’d easily be able to get the rest of the funding for North Campus extension…and the one to Tonawanda. But, that was not the case. He even mentioned a developer wanted to come in and build the two extensions and then have the NFTA rent the lines from them. He said the NFTA botched that plan due to egos and never followed through. He shortly there after moved to Florida and started a business. By the time the plan was put into place in the late 70’s he was long gone. From there he said he really lost interest because he realized the NFTA was in over it’s head and had no clue what they were doing.

          • portlanddave

            Well if your uncle says it, it must be true. Right?

          • Dan_Blather

            > to my knowledge there was never a plan to route it above ground

            Solid blue lines represent subway. Clear lines with edges represent surface and elevated tracks.

            http://i.imgur.com/eOnoOmb.jpg

          • MatthewK

            Initial plans did call for it to be routed above ground. Apparently issues arose in Buffalo’s famous “mid town” area and some prominent people pushed for it to be below ground. (I’m guessing officals at Canisus?)
            Very long story but I actually got a history lesson from an overseas engineer that worked on the project.

          • greenca

            I was around back then. It was a combination of reasons. Yes, they ran out of money. Tunneling was much more expensive than budgeted. Imagine that. The initial plans also called for the underground section to be in the CBD, until they realized how expensive that would be with the water table that high near the lake.

            But there was also a strong and vocal NIMBY contingent in Amherst who were not shy about saying they didn’t want those “city people” (coded language used by the more polite ones) having access to Amherst since it would cause crime to skyrocket,. It’s sad that those reasons are still being raised.

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            It’s funny that I was just reading an older article about an uptick in crime at the St. Louis mall, where they cited an extension of the metro line as a reason for the increase. A commented actually mentioned Buffalo’s situation where the Galleria fought against having a bus line ran to the mall, because it didn’t want a bunch of criminals to have easy access to shoplift.

          • nesciand

            Why the hell would we take away people riding to Sabres games and canal side…. are they not real people? Also this is a government project, public dollars don’t have to be concerned with a high ROI they just need to be able to show they’ll earn back their expenses eventually. Eventually can be a long time.

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            The metro has a huuuuuge operating loss each year, just say in’.

          • greenca

            All public transit (nation wide) have huge operating losses. The better systems only cover 30-40% in revenue, the rest is subsidy. (Just as road construction and maintenance are subsided,)

          • MatthewK

            Honestly..Cleveland when ever theres any sporting event D.T. its 95% sporting attendees.
            Dumb statement..customers are customers.

          • BlackRockLifer

            That Amherst cop’s story sounds fishy, I have never seen stats that show 80% of break-ins were people from the city. Almost all burglaries are committed by those that live nearby, that’s a fact. Most break-ins in the suburbs are by teenagers, many times they are your kids friends or acquaintances, not a stranger.
            I’d like to see a link to the stats claiming there was a crime rate increase when the NFTA was “allowed” (whatever that means) to bus people to the galleria. Blaming the city is code for blaming black people and claiming public transportation enables the “criminal element” is just ridiculous.

          • Dom Pacile

            So why all the problems for the mall it must be the nasty people from the burbs taking buses to riot ect.

    • JKR
      • Vandra

        Wow, how cool is that. A map before UB was actually truly mapped out, before the 990 and before Sweet home was reconnected. It was this kind of transportation planning that justified the North Campus, if only briefly. They just messed up and didn’t connect it as promised, thus the mistake.

    • Kristen Thomas

      Med students are never going to park their cars in favor of hopping the metro rail, and I’ll tell you why: As a med student, many of our classes are spread out over different venues throughout the day/week. For instance, you may start the day at the hospital, have to go to the main campus for Grand Rounds, then get back to the hospital to round on patients, followed by more classes or a seminar back at the school or a community clinic. There is no time to be wasted waiting for the train to arrive/leave, for unforeseen delays, etc. Furthermore, when I was in med school at UB, if I had even ten minutes to get off campus and grab a coffee or change up my scenery, I did. Just because the Medical School will operate within the medical corridor, it will not translate into a drastic increase in ridership on their part.

      (And med students don’t really dorm. They tend to be adults with their own apartments and homes…They’re going to walk out their door and get into their car to head off for the day…)

      • Josh Robinson

        Hey, to each their own! But I would consider that, with the new Med School and Children’s Hospital both coming online in the next year or two, you could potentially have thousands of new students and employees on the Medical Campus. If all of them decide to drive separately, that is going to make parking a LOT more competitive than it is now (even with the higher capacity ramp they are building). Good luck!

      • greenca

        You just explained one reason why developers are building apartments on the existing metro line. Yes, med students don’t dorm, they live in apartments. But when the new med school opens on the BNMC, their classes will be there, and if their hospital is Buffalo General, Gates Vascular, Roswell or Childrens, they can simply walk 3 blocks from the school to the hospitals. It’ll be easier to grab a train from the apartment to the BNMC, do all their classes on rounds on the campus, then take the train home. (Similar how people survive in NYC and Boston. Same reasoning here, but on a much smaller scale.) Of course it’s a different story if their hospital is not on the med campus.

        • OldFirstWard

          “… they can simply walk 3 blocks from the school to the hospitals. It’ll be easier to grab a train from the apartment to the BNMC, do all their classes on rounds on the campus, then take the train home.”

          You’re assuming that every student lives in an apartment on the rail line. Besides, all the apartments have parking spaces and there will be surface, ramps and underground parking on the campus. Who wants to sit on a train next to a stranger or someone coughing, or acting like a fool, when you can hop in a car and relax, stop for something to eat, visit a friend, shop, or just drive home instead of battling the elements after a long day.

          • Tbuff90

            How relaxing is it to drive around looking for a parking spot and paying large amounts of money to park on the campus? As someone who attended classes from UB on the medical campus it would’ve been a huge benefit to be able to take the subway there (there was no discount for UB students) and most of the people I knew would take the UB bus line that comes to the medical campus instead of dealing with the expense of driving and parking there. Also owning a car is a huge expense and for someone who is paying for medical school which is a huge financial burden I would not expect them to want to drive all around town paying for gas. The metro line is the perfect place to read a little and maybe listen to a lecture instead of dealing with traffic and the elements as you say (which can be worse in a car at times).

      • Pig_Lightning

        I’m not sure why he mentioned med students, who are a tiny fraction of the population at the Medical Campus. There are around 700 med students vs what will be about 14000 total employees once the Childrens Hospital is occupied, plus patients and visitors.

        Employees and visitors living along the current or expanded Metro Rail, or parking at the current Park and RIde or additional Northtowns/DLW Park and RIde, will be the vast majority of additional riders to the Medical Campus station.

      • OldFirstWard

        I think this light rail transportation method is very overblown. Buffalo has evolved into a car-centric community. It is much easier and cost and time effective to drive, park, and reach your destination efficiently in this city without any gridlock and exorbitant parking fees that other cities are faced with on a daily basis.

        Back in the 70’s, the pre-rail studies greatly exaggerated (lied) about the ridership numbers to enhance the position of the advocates for the construction of the Metro-Rail and to wrestle all the funds out of the Federal government to pay for it.

        While there will definitely be students who will utilize the rail system, I don’t believe the numbers would justify the expense of expanding that distance just to provide a ride for college kids who are now able to ride an exclusive bus to and from the campus for free, or just drive it themselves. I’m not against it. I’m just not an advocate for it yet either. I would rather see a tunnel to various points completed in phases.

        • Pig_Lightning

          That “exclusive” bus is unloved by students: often crowded, hot, an uncomfortable ride, and actually rather inconvenient (since it goes to only two places). It’s not even free for them, because their student fees pay for it. UB would gladly get rid of the bus and replace it with the train.

          • OldFirstWard

            So do you think they would lower the fees if a train is added to the commute?

    • Are there even 22 LRT systems in the USA?

  • Michael DiPasquale

    Metro rail to connect all of the UB campuses seems like a good investment.

  • Matthew Ricchiazzi
  • Matthew Ricchiazzi
  • Matthew Ricchiazzi
    • Matthew Ricchiazzi
      • Pig_Lightning

        What the hell is this? They’re not knocking down the Broadway Market, ever.

        • Matthew Ricchiazzi

          I’m not saying it that way. I’m saying let’s reconceptualize the “Broadway Market” as an outdoor seasonal market (Easter, Christmas, Summer) that enjoys lower operating costs, fewer vacancies, eliminates an eyesore, and alleviates a strain on city resources. It’s city owned which is the problem: the government can’t manage it effectively, they have proven. This is will breathe new life into a neighborhood that is in desperate need of a place making initiative.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi
          • Joe Dotterweich

            please, just stop

          • Pig_Lightning

            Matthew, you’re saying an “outdoor seasonal market” that will be operational only for peak holidays and summer will revitalize Broadway-Fillmore?

            Note as well the two busiest seasons for the Market – Easter and Christmas – are times when frequently occuring poor weather would make an outdoor market nearly unusable. Easter can occur as early as March 22nd, well inside the snow season. Essentially, your proposal would destroy the Market. It ain’t gonna happen.

            What you’re proposing is really tearing down the market for a three block park,. You could propose that anywhere in the neighborhood, leaving the Market as is.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            I would disagree. First we have the physical condition of the market itself, which is deplorable. Then we have the city ownership of it, which keeps its condition unacceptable and its aesthetic an eyesore. All of the operating costs associated with the management of the property can be eliminated and scaled to what the market will support. Malls are dead… even in the suburbs.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            There is also the issue of the government flooding the neighborhood with cheap retail space. That reduces demand for the storefronts that line Broadway and Fillmore that are privately owned. By correcting the over supply in the market and the government’s participation in that market, we can make private reinvestment of the historic and architecturally valuable properties surrounding the market plausible.

          • Wise Profit

            No first we have so much more snow than any of the places you just used as an example that your examples are meaningless.
            Second your pictures are of pop up tents to support very short term events vs year round seasonal operation that you talk about.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            As for the weather…. Europe is considerably colder and is known for Christmas Markets. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1aa556dbeaddd6e9464dfeb0ac51974783d42483dac38bd7ddbbf760e70ca328.jpg

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi
          • Matthew Ricchiazzi
          • Pig_Lightning

            Dude, no European city gets nearly 100 inches of snow a year.

            Give this up.

          • Pig_Lightning

            Broadway Market isn’t a mall, but apparently your experience is so limited that any indoor multi-vendor shopping space registers as “mall” to you. Its history is almost exactly like late 19th/early 20th century immigrant markets such as the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, built to bring outdoor stalls into a permanent, weatherproof structure. The future of the Broadway Market should more closely resemble the Essex Street Market, or the Union Market in DC, where investment and modernization has made the market a year round culinary destination.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            Ugh…. I hate to break this to you, but that place is ugly as f***. It is a disgusting, decrepit, dilapidated ode to the racist cluster f*** of a city this is.

          • Pig_Lightning

            Essex Street Market was an ugly, concrete and brick dump before they put money into it. Looks pretty good now. The before and after pics of Union Market in DC are even more shocking.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            Where is the money for the redevelopment going to come from? The structure is already operating at a deficit, and there is no political will to increase the city funded subsidy.

            And if it were redeveloped, who would shop there? There are crippling vacancy rates with the customer base as it exists today.

  • Matthew Ricchiazzi

    I’ve got to give Andy credit — it’s clear he has been reading my stuff.

    • PaulBuffalo

      @matthewricchiazzi:disqus, ha, uh, sure he has. Yes, very clear. Mr Pizzazz, tell you what: if he funds your cereal museum, I owe you a beer.

      • Matthew Ricchiazzi

        If he can land the brand listening agreement with General Mills, it would pay for itself.

        Still, that is not my current proposal for the DL&W terminal (see below). That was a suggestion on ways to improve the ridiculous children’s museum concept planned for Canal Side.

        General Mills is just across the river. It would be ludicrous not to leverage those storied and universally recognizable brands. It would be a great way to brand and program a children’s museum at Canalside.

        • PaulBuffalo

          I like you so much better since I stopped taking you seriously. You’re an entertainer. Kudos.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            Hey, leadership knows no labels. Trump, too, has been called an entertainer.

          • PaulBuffalo

            Mr Ricchiazzi, I’ve served leaders. I knew leaders. Leaders were friends of mine. Mr Ricchiazzi, you’re no leader. That’s okay, Mr Trump isn’t, either. It’s obvious and that clock hasn’t even started yet. No matter. I’d still have a beer with you.

  • Doug Wallis

    1) I don’t think South Buffalo wants the Light Rail. I think they like staying insulated from the urban problems the rest of the city faces. Its a nice community as it is. Parochial. Close knit.
    2) Niagara Falls Blvd and Boulevard Mall needs a rethink. The area is aging from the Niagara River going east. I think replacing some of the retail on the Tonawanda side with apartments (preferably underground parking) would help stabilize the neighborhood. High quality rentals feed future home buyers. Niagara Falls Blvd and Sheridan are perfect for that.
    3) The light rail extention to Amherst I predict will not encounter the resistance people expect. The route has aged since the light rail was built. Those people that opposed it in Amherst are now in East Amherst, Lockport, etc. Believe it or not Millersport Highway, Sheridan, Maple would like the customers and potential rental tenants.
    4) I do wish that they would do the 1.6 mile extention to the central terminal with the Amherst extension. It would open so many more possibilities if the NFTA maintenance sheds and the Bus Station could be moved to the Central Terminal. It would also raise the likelihood of a future extension to the Galleria and Airport since they are so close.
    5) I hate talking about the Bethlehem Steel Site. Lackawanna should be folded into Buffalo.
    6) I hate the Albright Knox expansion plans that remove the park. Find another location. Delaware Park is like Buffalo’s Central Park. The Albright should not expand on park land and the Science Magnet should not have built in the Olmsted Park either. Buffalo seems intent to destroy whatever jewels distinguish our city. I’ll never understand it.

    • greenca

      Why do you think the Albright Knox will expand on park land? It’s not planning that.

      • PaulBuffalo

        @greenca:disqus, maybe ChristieLou will write another article as Kevin Y and spin more fantasies.

    • Joe Dotterweich

      I’m not so sure that the knox is going to build on park lands… what I do wish is that they would build it in the closest wings of the Richardson complex, and have almost an art museum row, with the Richardson, Burchfield and then the knox

      • greenca

        The AKG has already announced they are planning to build an addition on their campus, and will (wisely) not consider building an annex anywhere else.

    • Pig_Lightning

      “5) I hate talking about the Bethlehem Steel Site. Lackawanna should be folded into Buffalo.”

      One of the key points Cuomo made earlier in the SotS speech was that property taxes are too high throughout NYS because of redundant local government. I’m not sure I agree with the idea – I think there is a place for smaller cities/towns/villages because they can be more representative and responsive to local needs – but I get the feeling that Cuomo is going to try to pressure for some consolidation of local governments. He certainly didn’t specify Lackawanna, but that looks like as good a candidate as any.

      • Wally Balls

        They (taxes) are actually too high because of union lobbyists securing wages that are too high for the work performed. Unions are the reasons taxes are too high, no other reason.

        • BlackRockLifer

          There are many, many factors that drive tax rates, claiming unions are the only reason is inaccurate and simplistic.

          • Wally Balls

            You’re inaccurate and simplistic. It starts with the unions, there’s no need to overcomplicate it.

          • BlackRockLifer

            You said “no other reason”, that’s inaccurate and simplistic.

          • No_Illusions

            Sounds like you’re overcomplicating it.

            Unions wouldn’t be needed if companies were ethical and invested in their own workforce.

          • Wally Balls

            State and local government aren’t “companies”.

        • Pig_Lightning

          Nice theory, but public employee salaries have been nearly flat while property taxes have risen dramatically.

          • Wally Balls

            Benefits, retirements, pensions etc., all paid for by Mr. and Mrs. John Q Taxpayer.

          • Wise Profit

            Agreed that the pensions are a significant problem, but certainly not the only cause of high taxes. I have always wondered how much the state spends annually on snow related transportation expenses. The cost of plows, salt, plow drivers (who often are being paid big overtime) and maintenance that results from snow destroying the roadways has to be enormous.

          • Wally Balls

            And the unions lobby for “safety requirements” in each contract, which includes new trucks, as well as big overtime. Again, all of this can be traced back to unions.

          • No_Illusions

            The tax payer includes these people as well.

            The government gets most of those wages back through property, income and sales tax.

        • No_Illusions

          Yeah! Everyone should work minimum wage. Screw people working full time who want to not live in poverty!

          How dare they want to live the American dream!

          • Wally Balls

            The people who the salt the roads shouldn’t be making more money than the people who live on said roads. Same goes for toll collectors and those who cross bridges.

          • No_Illusions

            I think everyone should be making money.

          • Wally Balls

            You apparently also think some people should be earning it through theft and bully tactics.

        • MatthewK

          Medicare and Medicaid are the biggest issues facing the state.
          Even the county…every dollar of property tax goes to Medicaid?

      • No_Illusions

        The issue is that Lackawanna resident would never vote to join Buffalo.

        More likely would be that they dissolve their city and become a town.

    • Jason Whelan

      Every time I see us discuss light rail options my head spins. When will the NFTA fight for more of a voice at the state level like the MTA downstate?

      My strong belief is the future is in standard rail such as GO Transit in Ontario. I’ve voiced my thoughts on that avenue of transportation and believe it would even be cheaper long term. The NFTA could simply purchase standard passenger cars (rolling stock) along with diesel locomotives.

      You don’t need the expensive catenary system which has to be placed for the streetcars. Yes buying rights to use the ROW’s locally could be an issue from rail companies such as Norfolk Southern and CSX.

      However if you take for instance the Niagara Corridor which is primarily downtown used only by Amtrak from Black Rock through Larkinville, utilizing this rail makes sense. This line connects to the new Niagara Falls Terminal which in turn connects to Canada. During the summer months, GO Transit operates seasonal trains from Toronto to Niagara. I use them ALL the time. Same style of payment method as NFTA (Honor) and is actually cost effective for Americans. Capitalize on this with tourists, Torontonians as well as Buffalonians. This line in essence is a major and under utilized rail corridor.

      This would be a highly utilized rail corridor with passenger traffic and if one looks at the current rail layout, it passes through areas such as North Tonawanda (Canalside) aka Remington Lofts, City of Tonawanda, Town of Tonawanda, Black Rock/Riverside, Canalside, Larkinville, Central Terminal.

      One just needs imagination to look at a map and see that following this track to even say Duke Road in Cheektowaga for a rail station which would allow Canadians and locals alike to go shopping at the Galleria. I agree with others that the death kneel of the Boulevard Mall is within the next 20 years. The Amherst corridor made sense 40 years ago but I’d like to know details. Is this going to be above ground? Where will the trackbed be placed as no old ROW (rail right of way) exist that way. Will it be done such as the TTC in Toronto with the streetcars? You know that’ll cost millions for a “study”.

      I think standard passenger rail along existing rail freight lines (which Buffalo as the former 2nd in the world rail center) has plenty of current and former ROW that are fully functional as commuter rail systems as they connect many of the areas that Buffalonians frequent. Hell there is still an old ROW (now track removed) that travels through Orchard Park, East Aurora, Colden, Springville, and onward to Ellicottville.

      I placed this link in for cost variables of different rail systems and there positive & negatives

      http://publictransport.about.com/od/Transit_Projects/a/How-Much-Do-Rail-Transit-Projects-Cost-To-Build-And-Operate.htm

  • It all sounds fantastic!

    But they’ll need more than $500M to create an effective LRT extension.

  • alex

    Don’t forget all the use a metro rail extension will get from Amherst and Williamsville if the stadium goes nearby

    • Bringing back Buffalo

      Bingo! I’d live to see an extension south using the DL&W Terminal. I could see thousands upon thousands of people taking the train into the city, partying at a bar, then taking the train to the stadium. I also think an extension to the airport would be waaaaay more beneficial than an extension into Amherst.

    • Marc Rebmann

      2 pre-season, 8 regular season, and maximum of 3 playoff games (lol). Planning for 10-13 days of use is a waste of resources.

      • alex

        not planning for 10 – 13 days of use, its just fair to mention the Bills stadium will add to it if the stadium is indeed built downtown…its only 10 – 13 days but its the volume the games would bring that is worth mentioning, not including events because it will for sure be a domed stadium…and what about the stores and such that would pop up because of the stadium?

        • greenca

          What stores and such that would pop up because of a stadium? How many stores and such popped up in Orchard Park by New Era in the last 43 years? How many stores and such popped up in the Cobblestone district next to Key Bank arena (which is in use a lot more than a football stadium) in the last 15 plus years?

          There have been plenty of studies. Stadiums and arenas do not spawn ancillary development to justify their cost.

          • alex

            the McKinley mall, all the stores around the McKinley mall, all the fast food places around the McKinley mall

          • greenca

            The McKinley mall and the surrounding stores have nothing to do with the stadium being in the vicinity. They’d be there regardless of the stadium since they serve the local population. not people who go to a stadium in use 10 days year. Besides, how many people do you think hang out at the mall before or after a Bills game?

  • InformedOne

    I recently gave a lecture on the Medical Campus to UB Graduate Students in the Real Estate and Urban Planning programs about Land Use.45 students attended. Out of that 45 only 2 raised there hand in response to the question “Who arrived via the metro rail today?” Not sure what this rate says, maybe it is in reference to the on time performance, weather, price of gas, need to get to next class following, etc…One thing is for sure, 6 miles in a car- maybe 15 minutes. 6 miles on the metro rail, best case 45 minutes point to point….Of course the environmental impact needs to be considered and somehow factored into the collective mindset, not sure how that is done.

    • Bringing back Buffalo

      I rode the metro from the Amherst st station to a Sabres game a couple years ago just to test this hypothesis and here’s what I found. In my car it takes me 10 minutes to drive down Parkside, hit the scajac and be right at the arena. The train took 5-10 minutes to show up, then it stopped and we had to walk down Main st. and wait for another car, then hop that train and take it to the arena. Grand total, forty five minutes. And for a round trip ticket it was only a couple dollars cheaper than paying for parking.

      • 300miles

        Switching between 2 trains was a temporary situation due to track repairs at the time.

        • Bringing back Buffalo

          I know. And not switching trains wouldn’t of saved me 20 minutes.

          • 300miles

            If you knew that, then why include it? Someone could easily say it took them 1 HOUR to drive their car downtown because there was an accident on the 33. (which happens way more often than track repairs on the metro…)

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            Because those were the dynamics on that specific day. If there was another day with different conditions I would have cited them, too. Also, for two people the trip was eight or ten dollars, really not saving much at all. And when you consider time, you’re negatively in the hole.

          • 300miles

            Every situation will be different. If you have 10 people, then carpooling in one van might make more sense than everyone buying a train ticket. It also depends on parking – how close it is, and how much it costs. If you have two people driving to the arena and paying $10 for parking, the $8 for a train ride is cheaper. The train also means both can drink and not worry about driving. If they find cheaper parking 5 blocks away, it might be cheaper but would require more walking, more exposure if it’s cold, and ultimately more time to get there. If you’re going somewhere that’s not near the metro or your home, then driving a car makes more sense.

            There’s also a big difference between someone going downtown for entertainment on Sat night vs. someone that goes downtown 5 days per week for work during congested rush-hour.

            You’re also basing your cost examples on the assumption that you already have a car and it’s associated fuel and maintenance costs aren’t included in the cost of the trip. But not everyone has a car.

            For UB North, you have a built-in density of thousands of people in one location, many who travel daily to the other UB campuses and jobs, and many that don’t own cars.

          • MatthewK

            That’s the problem with the system now…
            For anyone that values their time…it will never be worth it.

          • eagercolin

            It also didn’t save you from writing “wouldn’t of.”

    • Josh Robinson

      45 minutes? Where are you getting that number? The train can run the whole length of those six miles in about 15-20 minutes (I should know, I’ve taken it from Seneca St to UB South). If you count Main Street rush hour traffic, it is actually faster to take the train in many cases.

      • Bringing back Buffalo

        Hardly. Consider the amount of time you need to get to the station, then the amount of time waiting for the train.

        • Josh Robinson

          Okay, so the headwinds are 10 minutes from 6am-6pm. So let’s assume you JUST missed the last train. It would then take you 25-30 minutes for the whole 6 mile route including your wait.

          The time it takes to get to the station is irrelevant, as InformedOne was suggesting that it took 45 minutes to travel the 6 miles via train and 15 minutes to drive it. This is incorrect… even if you just missed the last train.

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            “The time it takes to get to the station is irrelevant”

            No it’s not. Especially if you’re driving out of your way to get to a station.

          • Josh Robinson

            Way to miss the second clause “as InformedOne was suggesting that it took 45 minutes to travel the 6 miles via train and 15 minutes to drive it.”

          • Bringing back Buffalo

            Now your just writing stuff to seem like you’re making an argument.

    • Ra Cha Cha

      Did you ask about the shuttle, though? Perhaps some of them took that. I’m on South Campus from time to time for studio reviews and whatnot (do I know you?), and I rarely take MetroRail there. Instead, I pick up the Blue Line shuttle at BNMC. After all, it’s free.

      That raises the question, by the way, of whether UB is walking the walk in addition to talking the talk. Running a fossil-fuel burning shuttle between BNMC and South Campus, two locations linked — with, actually, more frequent service — by a much greener transportation option makes one wonder.

  • Liberty716

    This sounds like the Simpsons monorail episode. They better consult Professor Frink…FIRST.

    • Wally Balls

      No, no it doesn’t.

  • BlackRockLifer

    Amherst would benefit greatly from an extension of the light rail, especially since the town is aging and faces several challenges. The town commissioned an Economic Study in September of 2016, among the key findings were the following
    -Population growth is expected to slow in the next 20 years and most growth will be driven by residents age 65 and older.
    -Amherst’s status as the location of choice among major corporate employers is eroding. Most major corporate employers have demonstrated a preference for new or renovated buildings located in proximity to nightlife and other urban amenities in or near downtown Buffalo.
    -The Amherst IDA is no longer effective at attracting new business.
    -Amherst is challenged by the absence of suitable sites for new development and a glut of obsolete commercial buildings and parks as well as a strained transportation system.

    • Bringing back Buffalo

      So how would they benefit greatly?

      • eagercolin

        Because the “we” in your sentence is NYS, not Buffalo. And also because, whatever the next 20 years brings for Amherst, the presence of UB guarantees that it will remain hugely relevant, and it’s in everyone’s interest to have good public transportation to such a place.

  • Wise Profit

    All the money time and effort should be focused on Northland to create jobs for those without degrees. Without something of that nature moving forward all the “lipstick on a pig” efforts are meaningless. That would include capping the 33 and removing roadways, restoring Humboldt or renovating the Central Terminal. If you don’t create low skilled (yet full time and decent paying) jobs all of these investments proposed will deteriorate over time.
    Better/More Jobs = Improving Schools = Growing Population = Increased Tax Base = More Taxes for Quality of Life Investments.

    • FreedomCM

      Amazing how all of the ‘work projects’ to employ the less educated address the (billion-dollar) desires of the “new urbanists”, rather than the daily needs of the underserved population.

      Why aren’t you concerned with: cleaning up brownfields; repaving/reworking the existing roads so they don’t break axles; weatherizing/solarizing schools/public buildings; graffiti patrols/park maintenance; health and welfare like eldercare and after school programs, etc

  • Doug Wallis

    1) I support light rail or commuter rail from canalside to Niagara Falls if it can be cheap and fast. Having the ability to do day trips from Niagara Falls Ont to Buffalo would be an advantage for Niagara Falls, NY and for Buffalo. Having the ability for visitors to Buffalo to do day trips to Niagara Falls NY and Ont equally beneficial.
    2) Would prefer tying any funds for Lackawanna Bethlehem Steel Site to merging Lackawanna with Buffalo. Its long overdue and there is more political power for development in Buffalo than Lackawanna could ever muster.
    3) Don’t think Amherst will object to Light Rail extension as much as people think. 40 years ago west Amherst was affluent. Today West Amherst is where Tonawanda was then. That wealth long ago moved to East Amherst, Lockport and beyond. On the contrary, I think you will see pressure where Niagara Falls Blvd, Sheridan, Maple can get some spinoff benefit. Those streets are aging. Malls and retail are dying all across the country. Logically speaking those streets should be looking to convert retail to office and residential…with a short straight line bus ride to light rail. Plus, replacing retail with apartment complexes would provide ready supply for entry level homes in Tonawanda and Kenton and west Amherst.
    4) Like the idea of Light Rail extension to Amherst but would be greatly beneficial if they also did the 1.6 mile to the Larkin District and Central Terminal. it would integrate Larkin District with downtown. It would benefit downtown by allowing the bus terminal and the NFTA maintenance sheds to relocate to the central terminal. It would be a much easier future sell for the airport extension. Lastly, it would spur development of the Central Terminal and continue the stabilization of the eastside…and a stable eastside would go a long way to keeping those nasty negative headlines from stereotyping a large swath of our city.

  • Lukia Costello

    A light rail to North Campus seems of limited utility. Students have a shuttle and the current one line system to take them downtown. It makes more sense to expand and improve our bus system.