Upgrades for the Metro Rail system are being funded in the new state budget that was approved Saturday.
The state's 2018-2019 spending plan includes a one-time capital grant of $9 million for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. Director of Public Transit, Tom George says, some of the funding will go towards Metro Rail station improvements. After running 20 hours a day for more than 30-years, George says, crews will be overhauling short elevators and replacing some of the longest ones which cost more than $1 million each.
"Whether it's your car or your front hallway at home, the salt and the grit gets into those areas during the winter months and really that raises heck with the mechanics of any of the escaltors or elevator systems."
Work is beginning immediately on the LaSalle Station escalator. And George says, another priority is fixing worn rail and Metro's catenary - or overhead electrical supply.
"That's still all original. Both the track and catenary systems are original equipment. And we're systemically replacing those as we go through the system and we'll be investing these dollars directly into that continued program," George said.
The NFTA faces annual maintenance costs of between $35 million to $45 million but there's no dedicated line in the state budget for light rail. Albany's funding formula only includes bus service.