Citizens Group Rallies for Airport Metro Rail Extension

Buffalo, NY – Supporters of an expanded Metro Rail system gathered in downtown Buffalo Thursday to renew their call for an extension to Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Representatives of the Citizens Regional Transit Corporation marched from Main and Church Streets to NFTA headquarters where they presented the transit agency with ten thousand petition signatures in support of a light rail extension.

Such booming areas as Charlotte, North Carolina and Phoenix, Arizona are planning light-rail systems. But is an extension feasible in this area where the population continues to decline? Citizens Transit spokeswoman Gladys Gifford says yes...

"This is a realistic proposal," Gifford said. "The cost, as we understand it, is about $200 million. When you look at a capital cost of $200 million and compare it to the Peace Bridge project, it's a very good deal."

The big, unanswered question is whether the federal government would come up with the majority of funding as it did for construction of the Main Street line 25 years ago.

Masten District Councilmember Antoine Thompson framed the issue from an employment perspective. He says the NFTA has to make sure that people can get to suburban areas where the jobs are.

"There are too many people in Western New York who live in the city and cannot get to the jobs because of the transportation gap," Thompson said. "This proposal helps fill that gap."

For now, the Citizens Regional Transit Corporation says it will await the response of the NFTA. They're also planning to seek business support for a Metro Rail extension to the airport.