Niagara Falls, New York has opened its new train and intermodal transportation station. Leaders in the Cataract City hail it as another component for local tourism. And they're looking to Buffalo, which is expected to soon decide where to build its own new train station, and urging their neighbors to get it done.
Although the station welcomed its first passengers in December, officials hosted a formal ribbon-cutting on Friday. The station will serve as a stop not only for Amtrak but also the Canadian rail service Via, according to speakers at the ceremony.
Customs for trains arriving from and leaving for Canada will all be processed on the American side of the border, inside the new station.
The new Niagara Falls station has many critics but those in support of the new facility say it will serve as a link between the U.S. and Canada and also a link from Niagara Falls to Buffalo and to many local tourist destinations.
"With this being a stop on the Discover Niagara Shuttle, it'll be a connection to downtown Niagara Falls and to the cultural assets we have in the north," said Sara Capen, executive director for the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area. "It presents the opportunity to further develop heritage tourism products and experiences that educate visitors on the rich history that we have here."
There will soon be a new regional tourist attraction on site.
"Another purpose that this station will serve is it will be home base for the Underground Railroad Heritage Commission's Interpretive Center, which will be open by this time next year," explained Niagara Falls City Planner Tom DeSantis.
During his remarks, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster acknowledged the City of Buffalo's current task to determine a new train station site. By next month, they are expected to choose between a site in the downtown area, possibly near Canalside, or in a renovated Central Terminal, which has been sitting idly since the 1980s.
"I want to make clear the City of Niagara Falls has no official position on where the Buffalo train station should be located," Dyster said during the ceremony. "But we do have an official position on what should happen there, and that is 'get 'er done, folks.' That is just as important to us as any other element associated with the future of this station."