In preparation for the arrival of spectators at rounds one and two of the NCAA Tournament later this month, the City of Buffalo and Visit Buffalo Niagara (VBN) are coordinating efforts to get the thousands of expected visitors around in a quick and efficient manner. In order to do this, they are working with local taxicab companies and public transportation to coordinate the best ground transportation possible. Organizers and planners are expecting local taxicab companies and the NFTA to provide “seamless” ground transportation for visitors to the tournament.
It will be interesting when all of those visitors get here and open their Uber apps, and nothing happens. That’s because Buffalo still has no access to ridesharing, which is a laugh at this point. Apparently, that’s why The City and VBN have to coordinate with the entities that are responsible for ensuring that ground transportation is up to snuff. Because we all know that our current ground transportation offerings won’t cut the muster unless we “coordinate” before the big show.
The tournament is expected to bring thousands of visitors downtown and conservatively generate $8 million in economic impact when it arrives in Buffalo from March 16-18. When it does, Buffalo’s cab companies and the Metro Rail will be ready with a plan to accommodate that influx of visitors.
Wow, this would be a great time to enlist Uber drivers to make sure that everyone has a ride in the most efficient and practical way possible.
Some of the adjustments made following these discussions convened by Mayor Brown and VBN President and CEO Patrick Kaler include:
- A taxi standing area to be sited along Hanover Street, in between Marine Drive and Prime Street at Canalside. Signage and volunteers stationed inside Key Bank Center will direct attendees looking for a cab to this location. (See attached map for more details). Additional taxis will be available along Marine Drive past Lloyd Street. Visitors to Buffalo can also order a cab by downloading the Curb app on their phones.
- The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will adjust the Metro Rail’s capacity and frequency to include more train cars and additional trains during peak times over the course of the tournament.
- The entire length of the Metro Rail will be free on the second day of the tournament, Saturday, March 18, courtesy of the Coors Light Drink Responsibly program.
“My administration worked proactively with Visit Buffalo Niagara, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, and the NFTA to develop a plan to enhance traffic flow along the streets near the Key Bank Center during the NCAA play-offs, particularly the flow of taxis,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said.
“This is designed to prevent bottlenecks in traffic in front of the arena, while still providing game-goers with taxi services in close proximity. We are looking forward to playing host to the NCAA teams and their fans and leaving them with a fantastic impression of the City of Buffalo.”
These adjustments will be especially important because of a 90-minute time period on March 16 in between game sets where visitors must vacate Key Bank Center and will be looking for somewhere downtown to eat and drink. The specific times of those games – and the subsequent 90-minute intermission — will not be announced until Selection Sunday, March 12. The taxi stand will also be operating following the last games on Thursday, and after the Saturday games.
“We are confident that these adjustments will help visitors have a great experience when they arrive here later this month,” Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Patrick Kaler said. “Buffalo’s taxis and public transportation are up to the task to ensure our visitors can navigate our resurgent city as efficiently as possible.”
Or get ridesharing to Buffalo, and you won’t have to coordinate before large events, because the service will assuredly accommodate any of the additional burden on the ground transportation system caused by excess visitors to downtown Buffalo.
*Side note: This post was written at GBGB’s on Main Street in Downtown Buffalo. While it was being published, a guy from Nashville walked up to the bar and asked the bartender, “What city doesn’t have Uber?” It might be cliché, but I almost fell off my barstool.”