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Buffalo NFTA service restructuring

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Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 1063

PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:27 pm    Post subject: Buffalo NFTA service restructuring Reply with quote

On October 31st, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) in Buffalo and Niagara Falls will roll out a major route restructuring program that is planned to simultaneously address funding issues and direct its resources to the routes and areas where customer demand is heaviest. The plan is to beef up service on the heaviest routes at all hours while reducing or eliminating lightly-patronized route segments and express bus services. The route revisions also come on the heels of a fare restructuring last month which eliminated all fare zones and bus-to-bus transfers in place of a $1.75 base fare and a $4.00 day pass (Metro-to-bus free transfers do remain).

A key concept of this plan is to simplify both routes and headways wherever possible, instead of the hodgepodge of various route segments and times between buses found today on many routes. Most routes will have a trunk segment (typically operated to the city line) and one extension to a mall or other key traffic generator. Several key route variations are being spun off into their own routes, while little-used route segments and variations (‘A buses operate via East Ferry and Grider, B buses operate via Main and Kensington’) are being eliminated.

The changes are summarized as follows:

Metro Rail –

Sunday service extended to operate from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (current Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Service increases on heaviest routes –

Service will be increased to generally operate on every 10 to 15 minutes on weekdays, every 30 minutes on weekends and every 60 minutes evenings. The routes which will see these increases include:

3 Grant
4 Broadway
5 Niagara/Kenmore
6 Sycamore
12 Utica
13 Kensington
19 Bailey
20 Elmwood
23 Filmore/Hertel
24 Genesee
25 Delaware
34 Niagara Falls Blvd

New routes –

Five new routes will be created:

27 Erie County Home – replaces portion of route 24 and discontinued route 203; will operate limited service seven days per week

35 West Sheridan – replaces portions of route 5 and route 20; also extends service from the Boulevard Mall and shopping areas to the State University at Buffalo north campus; will operate seven days a week.

46 Lancaster – replaces route 6 extension from the Walden Galleria mall to the town of Lancaster; will operate weekdays only

47 Youngs Road – replaces route 30 service from the University metro station to the Buffalo airport; will operate weekdays only

57 Tonawandas – replaces portions of routes 20 and 25; will operate weekdays only

Routes to be discontinued –

Five routes will be discontinued:

30 Kenmore – replaced by route 5 extension and new route 47

51 Military Summit – discontinued due to low ridership

56 River Road – discontinued due to low ridership

203 Eric County Home Express – replaced by new route 27 (direct service from the airport to Erie County Medical Center discontinued)

207 Elmwood Circulator – to be discontinued in December

Express bus cutbacks –

Most express bus routes are being cut back to one inbound trip in the morning and one outbound trip in the afternoon, and some lightly-used service variations and extensions are being eliminated.

My take – I’m not as familiar with transit in Buffalo as compared to other cities, but this appears to be a common-sense move. Too many transit agencies hang onto unused route segments forever, avoiding political and popular backlash by keeping a skeletal level of service in place that is usually a waste of money. Even worse, it creates confusion among customers (just look at some of the current maps like the 20 Elmwood) and can rob service along more heavily-patronized segments while the bus is wandering through an area with little or no ridership. The express bus cutbacks will almost certainly put those buses that are spending half of their service hours deadheading to far-flung suburbs to much better use in Buffalo’s neighborhoods. It will be interesting to see how successful these changes actually are.

A summary of all route and headway changes can be found here - http://www.nfta.com/metro/pdfs/routeGuide.pdf
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Joined: 16 Dec 2007
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Location: Harford County, MD

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rail Bus 63 -

SIGH! Noted, "... fare restructuring last month which eliminated all fare zones...". IMHO, this is sloppiness and laziness.
It is very difficult to support the "no zone fares" mentalities.

Otherwise. Yeah, I know from Buffalo. Lived there many years back. With the serious "assault and battery" the city has
suffered over the years, it is quite the challenging operating environment. Best of luck with the rail toy experiment!

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Age: 70
Joined: 23 Dec 2008
Posts: 456
Location: Louisville, Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The light rail line has been there what - 20 years? It dosn't go far enough to be useful, and it is fixed-guideway, so unless the route was really strong to begin with, well...

I saw something about the upcoming restructuring a while back, and never did look back at what they were doing. NFT certainly had a convoluted route structure, with too many variations to too few routes and choppy headways.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve spent time this year in the city since my son now attends the State University at Buffalo (UB), and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Metro rail service is actually utilized. Ridership during the day is decent, and my son reports that evening trains are crowded as students and young adults ride downtown to the Chippewa St. entertainment district and other hot spots. The line’s average weekday ridership of 24.776 dwarf’s Cleveland’s ridership (8,091 – yikes) and is not far behind the patronage of the much longer systems in Pittsburgh (25,779) and Baltimore (28,647).

Obviously, extensions would go a long way to making this system a true success. Connecting to the larger UB north campus in suburban Amherst is a no-brainer, although this would likely necessitate a combination of a surface median operation for part of the route and a private ROW with tunnels and/or flyovers closer to the campus. The university has a long-term plan to upgrade its current shuttle bus service to BRT as an interim step. On the south and east end, a plan has also been discussed to extend the Metro route to the Walden Ave. shopping area and the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. This routing would use current railroad rights-of-way for the most part and would not directly service many residential areas, but the shopping and airport traffic would be a built-in traffic base from day one and there are also opportunities to develop park & ride traffic in the areas of I-90 and the Kensington Expressway. If done the right way, this could be a very cost-effective investment if Federal dollars can be secured.

Jim D.
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Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Posts: 932
Location: Harford County, MD

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buffalo - some quick notes. The Wikipedia entry is helpful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Metro_Rail

Its present rail operation may look fairly decent on the metrics, as it is but six miles long. Never mind the distracting
issue that ridership enhanced by the device of cutting back bus routes that had offered single seat service to and
from Downtown.

The Baltimore example is not on point? It is a thirty mile stretch of line. Ridership seems to be two distinct patterns:
CBD - South, and CBD - North. From appearances, total ridership possibly at 60/40, South End compared with North.

In any Buffalo discussion, it is somewhat curious it has not been extended between U of B North and South sites.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buffalo News - NFTA reports increase in ridership due to gas prices, new fare structure

Metro Bus and Rail experienced one of its sharpest hikes in ridership in recent years from a combination of its new fare structure and rising gas prices pushing new riders onto public transit.

Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority officials reported Thursday to the board of commissioners that 27.3 million riders climbed aboard Metro buses and trains during 2010, compared with 26 million in 2009 — a 5 percent increase.

“It’s cheaper for people to ride because of the streamlined fare structure,” said C. Douglas Hartmayer, NFTA director of public affairs. “Every indication is that it had the positive effect we wanted it to have.”

Ridership began to significantly spike after the new system’s implementation on Oct. 31, he said, though gas prices also were spurring ridership.

Click on the link above to read the full article.
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