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Train Station – Downtown Site is the “Preferred Location”

Based on “the availability of existing track infrastructure, site control/ownership, connectivity to existing multi-modal transportation options, proximity to activity centers, and readiness for development”, the downtown station has been designated as the preferred choice for the new train station. While the stakeholders meeting is still underway, the decision has been made after a consensus vote took place moments ago.

Dean Bob Shibley broke the news by stating “The majority is leaning to Downtown – the downtown site (the motion offered) is the preferred location.”

Senator Tim Kennedy spoke against the downtown site, saying that Central Terminal would have been the best bet in the long term. He concluded that the best thing to come of this process, was to bring the Central Terminal back into the public spotlight. He called the decision a win-win, once the terminal is also developed.

Then, Congressman Higgins stated that 87.9 percent of the public favors the Central Terminal. He felt that the community was not represented in the decision. He added that the recent renaissance in Buffalo is not a true renaissance unless we pay attention to our forgotten neighborhoods. He argued that the decision called for more vision, more imagination and more guts.

PDF of Buffalo Stakeholder Meeting #4.

Empire State Development (ESD) President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said that this is a transportation decision, and therefore downtown is the clear winner. He also said that there will eventually be an adaptive reuse opportunity for the Central Terminal. He said this as a person who has invested a great deal of his own funds into the East Side (Larkinville). He added that the day and time will come for the Central Terminal, and we should all be happy with this decision.

Mayor Byron Brown said that this was an open and transparent public process, and that he is convinced that downtown is the right location for the train station, but that we should invest and preserve the Central Terminal at the same time. “There are no forgotten neighborhoods.” He referenced the investment in housing, the demolitions, and the Broadway Market as proof positive investments that have been made on the East Side.

“Buffalo has missed a golden opportunity to begin the process to redevelop the Central Terminal. The $25 million infusion of state funding would have been a great start to the adaptive reuse of one of Buffalo’s great architectural icons. I am thankful that the site directly within Canalside at the North Aud Block was not chosen. While I do not think the downtown site is the best choice, I am willing to do what I can to make it work. This should not be the end of the line for the Central Terminal. We must begin an effort to redevelop the Central Terminal and bring it back to life. A new Central Terminal can help to bring new investment to Buffalo’s East Side, and ensure that the New Buffalo reaches all of our neighborhoods.”

10 votes for the downtown location. 4 votes for the Central Terminal. 1 abstention. And there you have it.

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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  • East Auroran

    Another downtown train station that looks like Chet’s Dog House or Jesters, jammed in under the Thruway. Inspired decision.

    • Let Buffalo Rise

      Well done…Chet’s Dog house, way to go way back in the archives for that one.

    • armyof100clowns


      Holy crap – you truly are from EA!

      • East Auroran

        You bet I am. Majors, Seaman Hood & Morey, Amsler’s, Brooks’ and Fox’s delis, Nellie’s Pub, Woody’s Gulf Station, Grover’s Barber Shop, etc.

        • Johnny Pizza

          My grandmother owned Nellie’s Pub. I’ve always wanted to go back in time and grab a few beers there. Oh well.

          • East Auroran

            Not to hijack this thread, but Nellie’s was a great place. Cheap beer, great jukebox, dartboard, tasty wings, easy walking distance from/to the Globe, Wally’s, or anyplace in town. One of my favorite hangouts in the middle-1970s, back when those of us 18-20 years old could still buy a legal drink.

    • Michael Kingston

      Love your profile pic – still my all-time favorite hockey team!

  • The system is rigged.

  • MrGreenJeans

    Put a new roof on the Exchange Street station, remodel the interior, build decent weather-protection over the track, and run a free shuttle bus to the NFTA bus station for an hour before & after each train arrival. Problem solved, much less expensively. If being “jammed in under the Thruway” is so bad, take down the damned Thruway – it has been Downtown’s horror show for far too long.

    • Andy Wulf

      That ship has sailed. We’re getting a new train station whether we need one or not.

    • East Auroran

      Good idea. Take down the Thruway and have thousands of cars and sem trucks on Seneca and other surface streets.

      Brown to East Side: Drop Dead.

    • doherofperception

      190 removal would be incredible, but too many people around here would poop their diapers — even though similar projects are happening, well, all over the country.

      • East Auroran

        Seriously, I’m curious – which cities are removing the only Interstate access to the central part of the city, and the only Interstate access to one of the busiest international border crossings in the country?

  • Matthew Moje

    I’m ok with it being downtown, as long as they don’t use Tim Tielmans design

    • 300miles

      I’m fairly certain that was just a concept idea… not an actual design proposal.

  • MD


  • BuffaLife

    “Mayor Byron Brown said that this was an open and transparent public process”

    Except that the public was not allowed to attend this meeting and weigh in…

    I don’t have a preference either way, but don’t claim the “process” to be something it was not.

  • Daktari100

    Great. Now work on making Amtrak stick to a more reliable timetable. If the trains could be counted on to be on time, tourists (and residents) in the region could use Amtrak to travel between Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

    • East Auroran

      If the Federal government spent 1/50th of what it spends to subsidize plane and car travel on the railroads, they would run efficiently, as they do in Europe.

      I’m amazed the same people complain about Amtrak being subsidized and who think it should be self-sufficient think United, Delta, etc., build the airports and nationwide guidance systems, hire the air-traffic controllers, etc., that make airline travel in this country at least tolerable.

      • armyof100clowns

        Agree on this – I believe rail should be run in a similar fashion to air. Private corporations and the Government working together to provide a service to the public. This will run contrary to a lot of people’s beliefs, but EVERY mode of mechanized transportation in the United States is government sponsored in some form or fashion.

  • buffalonian

    if the majority of the public wants it at the central terminal, it should be at the terminal. Who cares what those ten people voted for? It’s all about money in the end. We’re lining somebody’s pockets.

    • Let Buffalo Rise

      Higgin’s comment is just his opinion. maybe 87.9% of the people he talked to want it in the Central Terminal. Three was no scientific poll done on this matter, there was no public vote. The decision was made based off a professional study that said the Central Terminal was not the most appropriate space to a new train station. Trust your professionals not the general public that makes decisions based on emotion and nostalgia. We shouldn’t even be having this conversation, we do not need to spend so much money on a new train station for the small number of passengers that ride the train.

      • le80

        Exactly. 87.9% of what people? I bet not a single person was polled who actually takes the train from downtown.

      • OldFirstWard

        “Trust your professionals not the general public…”

        What were you born yesterday?
        I’ll trust poor working class people before I invest any of my trust in the corruptible wealthy politicians and business leaders.

        • Let Buffalo Rise

          No I wasn’t born yesterday but I am not a jaded geriatric that lives in parents basement who is part of the generation that let this city fall apart. I am from the generation that is making Buffalo Great Again. I am out there working to improve this great city. We will be thankful in a decade when the Central Terminal is rehabbed that we didn’t make the mistake of putting the station back there. This was going to be a tiny station that did not utilize the main concourse it just doesn’t make sense.

          They are proposing to spend a lot of money to build a new station when the one in Depew has been serving the community just fine. Lets save our money and put it somewhere more important.

          • neroden

            Depew is absolutely NOT OK. It causes train delays and it’s not properly wheelchair acessible. It needs to be replaced.

  • chewingwax

    Downtown is the right place for the train station. DEPEW IS NOT. Put the Depew station at the Central Terminal. It’s a no brainer. Also they must remove the choke points where the freight trains hold up the Amtrak trains. This is what they’re doing in Rochester and it makes a lot of sense. Until Amtrak isn’t beholden to the CSX train tracks and the slow or broken down freight trains they will never run on time. I ride the train back and forth to Rochester on an almost weekly basis. The train going west is routinely over an hour late. It’s a joke.

    • Sue2525

      Downtown is a great location, but no need to be at Central Terminal. There is no need for such a large place. Canalside is much better. Much more pleasant and they are claiming, plenty of room. Depew is a great station, so leave well enough alone. It has access to the east and west.

      I like what “Let Buffalo Rise” stated…”We will be thankful in a decade when the Central Terminal is rehabbed that we didn’t make the mistake of putting the station back there.”

    • neroden

      What chewingwax said.

      This was a vote to keep the wretched station in Depew as the main train station for Amtrak in Buffalo, until it is inevitably moved to Central Terminal. The fools on the committee didn’t appear to understand this.

  • Flyguy2pt0

    Now we enter a study phase where we design, redesign, meet, redesign again, fight a lawsuit or three, give up on the project and it goes away for 5-10 years like the convention center, then bring it up again and decide to update the study with 4 redesigns followed by another round of lawsuits. Hard not to be pessimistic given the track record of major projects in Buffalo.

    • Mr. B

      “Now we enter a study phase where we design, redesign, meet, redesign
      again, fight a lawsuit or three, give up on the project and it goes away
      for 5-10 years like the convention center, then bring it up again and
      decide to update the study with 4 redesigns followed by another round of

      In that case, hopefully when the project “reemerges” again, it will do so at the CT . . .


      • Flyguy2pt0

        I had really hoped for a two hub system where you had high speed rail and amtrak coming into the CT as their chief stop as well as transfer point to the regional metro rail system linking downtown to the Buffalo Airport (CT would be a stop along the way to pick up Amtrak and High Speed Rail users long term because the west-east issue with rail is why the CT is where it is in the first place). DT would get the major regional metro hub where the metro system converged and line transfers would occur. I liken it to Union Station in DC as it relates to say Metro Center or L’Enfant Plaza.
        Oh well

        • OldFirstWard

          Tim Tielman sold out the preservation cause for this crap. I told you all he is indebted to Howard Zemsky who answers to Cuomo. No preservationist of his stature would ever turn their back on an opportunity to begin a restoration and use of the Central Terminal. There is clearly a Quid pro quo all over this decision. Shame on you Tim Tielman. You have disgraced the preservation movement.

          I encourage every member who belongs to the Campaign for Greater Buffalo to renounce their membership and stop any donations to the group.

          Read this article from Artvoice from November of 2012 by Alan Bedenko:

        • LongGoneeee

          I had really hoped to use the ‘free money cheat’ and build subways under every major road in Buffalo and connect to the Northtowns, Southtowns and Niagara Falls.

          Wait..we’re not both playing SimCity?

          High Speed rail and a Light Rail extension to the CT are never going to happen in our lives. On High Speed, if they can’t connect the #2, #11, #13, #17 and #27 MSAs in the US in California with a total population of over 27,000,000 they are not going to build HSR along NYS. On Light Rail, a line to UB North barely qualifies for the $1.6B needed…no way anything through the East Side to a regional airport that’s the 57th busiest in the US. There are less than 5 airports with rail connection.

          • neroden

            Light rail extension to the Central Terminal and the Airport should have been done 30 years ago. Maybe after they extend to UB North.

            Every airport in developed countries, like China, has a direct rail connection. The US is, however, a third-world country.

      • Flyguy2pt0

        Problem is I’m sick of watching decades of my life pas by with projects stuck in the mud. Would like to see things happen in my lifetime. Too many projects and decades going by. Im not cool with that.

        • OldFirstWard

          Five years ago BlackRockLifer asked this question in the Artvoice comments from above:

          “Finally, please provide real examples of preservationists stopping any major projects or “setting us back decades”.

          I think you finally have your answer, Tim Tielman.

        • Ian

          I’m with ya. So many what-ifs…..

    • BuildBuffalo

      Buffalo gets in its own way. Just look at Queen city landing, the Carlo, etc. it’s ridiculous

  • Mr. B

    Welp — Higgins said Buffalo was about to make a “big mistake” in choosing downtown.

    He was right.

    Kinda like taking cars off of Main St. for the original line, and letting the state-run University campus (the largest in the SUNY system) take flight for the ‘burbs.

    And, as was the case with both of the aforementioned, the mistake will eventually be realized, and corrected — but it will take decades . . .


    • MrGreenJeans

      Stop being stupid. UB’s location was never even considered to be “Downtown”. There wasn’t and never has been enough physical space for it – ever.

  • Grfn74

    CT needs much more than a few trains a day to change the neighborhood. Start with the center, development pushes out. Downtown location is best.

  • BuildBuffalo

    All I know is that there won’t be a shovel in the ground for at least 5 years. And if the ECHDC is in charge of it, 10 years.

    • 300miles

      It might be completed relatively quickly if Cuomo is making it a priority, and it sounds like he is making it a priority. The only reason they made a decision today at all was because Cuomo gave them a hard deadline.

      • BuildBuffalo

        Which is very anti buffalo. Which is why poloncarz voted no because of lack of time. Leaders here aren’t used to doing things above a snails pace.

  • 3E

    This is the right decision. I just don’t buy the argument that a train station will revitalize a neighborhood. A train station!
    The eastside and the CT are definitely worth saving but a train station that serves less than 150k people per year (assuming the Depew station would have closed if the CT was chosen) is not gonna do it. That building is massive and was built to handle 10k passengers per day. Rail service would have brought that amount of people thru per month.
    Downtown just makes sense. It’s near everything which is what travelers are looking for when they get to their destination.

    • neroden

      And if you’re coming from Cleveland, you will ride right past downtown and wind up in Depew. That’s the problem with a downtown station. They need to find a way to fix it.

  • Nicholas Fiume

    Part of me was rooting for the Central Terminal, but unfortunately that was a bad site for a train terminal in the 1920’s and isn’t any better today. Having a station downtown makes sense… What I don’t understand is why the current location on Exchange Street. It’s under a highway overpass and, as such, will always look run down and dreary (only so much you can do to make that look nice). The nearby streets are congested with traffic from everything going on at Canalside – I can’t picture where you could have a cab stand or appealing drop off/pick up area… And, despite the discussion around connectivity to other transit options – two blocks to an open air metro station is longer than it may seem in the snow and with luggage…..

    If we accept that a downtown location makes sense, why the aversion to laying a little bit of track (do they no longer make railroad track… or are we forever stuck with wherever someone decided to install it in 1918). Turn south from the current Exchange street station and run over current surface parking lots to a platform on the east edge of the DL&W terminal – which the NFTA already has plans to extend the Metro Rail into (i.e. an indoor connection to the Metro Rail – still downtown/Canalside, and connected to other planned development). Continue tracks straight across the river to connect with Ganson St. – or, if the river is problematic, lay new track along Ohio street (maybe shared NFTA and Amtrak track… not sure if the overhead lines for the Metro would interfere with Amtrak, or if Metro trains can be retrofitted to run with a powered “third rail” instead)… Either way, allow the trains to continue south and west without a need to back up.

    • neroden

      Good idea. Actually, GREAT idea.

      The Coast Guard probably won’t let you run across the river without a drawbridge. The FRA won’t let you run Amtrak and NFTA on the same track. But you might be able to do something anyway…. go through the Old First Ward in some fashion or other.

  • HillRider

    CT was too far from the central business district in 1929 and it feels even further now with the huge decline in residents from its surrounding neighborhood. Downtown just makes more sense, architecture and romance aside.

    • neroden

      Trouble is that this means all the trains to the west will bypass Buffalo.

      Larkinville was a good choice.

  • breckenridge

    Smallish train station downtown near the Exchange St station, shrug, fine. Just don’t make it a big intermodal hub with dozens of busses idling away with diesel fumes everywhere. Hang out by the current bus station on Ellicott/Oak and its staging lot between North and South Division and see if that’s something you want right at Canalside. No thanks.

  • Daniel Zielinski

    Buffalo lost in the big picture. We had a chance to put some life back into the terminal and east side. The downtown site also ignores over half of the stations in the country. Short sighted plan to me.

    • HousingBubble2

      get over it, that central terminal is an asbestos filled eyesore. knock it down and move on!

      • neroden

        You can’t knock it down; it was built so heavily that it’s practically indestructible. It would cost a fortune to knock it down. It’s a bunker. That’s why it’s still standing.

  • FreedomCM

    Does this guarantee that the Depew station remains the primary regional station?

    • Josh Robinson

      Yes, since Amtrak expressed no desire to back trains 1 mile out of downtown to continue West. So westbound lines will still depart from Depew. Short-sighted.

    • neroden

      Yes, this guarantees that the Depew station remains the primary station for Buffalo until it’s replaced. Pathetic.

  • Bruce Baker

    So you have to go downtown to catch a train. How many people live Downtown ? It will be a waste , why not make it accessible at Central Terminal , it is centralized not stuffed behind a bunch of buildings downtown.

    • HousingBubble2

      Id much rather be dropped off and picked up downtown then the middle of the ghetto

  • Bruce Baker

    Who is getting the pay-off in this train station under the I-90. What a joke. Buffalo has the most unique train station in the country but it will be some sterile looking building.

    • discolettuce

      “Buffalo has the most unique train station in the country”. Debatable. KC for an example.

  • Joe Winiewicz

    Wasted opportunity – If they are putting it downtown, save the money and fix the roof on the existing station. It serves all of what, 100 people daily? The CT could have been a transportation hub by attaching lite rail and moving the bus terminal there. Then closing the Depew station and adding some car rental opportunities and getting it back on the city bus line.

    But I agree, this will be mired in study and the end result will be the as usual, nothing changes. Remember when the twin span was the preferred bridge design for the Peace Bridge? See how that worked out?

  • Dan

    “Availability of existing track infrastructure, site
    control/ownership, connectivity to existing multi-modal transportation
    options, proximity to activity centers, and readiness for development” are reasonable, short-term criteria. They do address which location is an easier place to run trains to/from in the next five years. But they don’t address which location would be a better place to run trains from for the next fifty, which the criteria above do not consider.

    Maybe downtown is a better choice in the long term. Converting CT into a proper multi-modal station would take an insane amount of money, of which the building itself would only be a very small piece. But given the rationale put out by the committee, this was a decision based on expediency, not long-term thinking. At least Buffalo is consistent.

  • Ian

    Leading up to the decision I was 100% for CT. Now that the fate is sealed I’ve taken a different perspective. The train station downtown will be a nice upgrade to the rail service that very few uses, but is also most likely the lowest cost. I think this is a good short term plan. I’ve used the train about 4, maybe 5 times in the last 5 years so having a safe place to wait is a great big upgrade from what we have today.

    In the long term, I would like this conversation to continue. My hope is that NYS decided to address the far easier issue of updating the train stations first and what comes next in a second phase, the more difficult problem of ensuring commuter train schedules are on-time and consistently. Who knows how long or how this problem will take to be resolved, if ever.

    If we ever get to the point where the pass phase 2, Buffalo might have a different environment to address these problems and could concentrate on a more comprehensive mass transit solution to our metro area and the CT could still be part of that.

  • HousingBubble2

    This is great news and makes the most sense. Bring more foot traffic and people to the waterfront to spend money, stay in hotels, attend festivals and events. Amtrack takes you right to penn station; very convenient !

  • OldFirstWard

    The one bright spot in this thread is the lead photo. It is an absolutely brilliant view with a hundred year window into the city.

  • neroden

    So they just voted to pay for both downtown AND Central Terminal. They haven’t figured this out yet.

    But since the trains to Cleveland and Chicago can’t stop downtown, they’ll continue to skip the downtown station. Depew is obsolete and needs to be replaced. It’ll end up being replaced by Central Terminal, since there’s really no other alternative left (a downtown station makes Larkinville, the other possibility, implausible).