After years of groundwork, the Discover Niagara Shuttle now includes a route in the City of Lockport.
The first Discover Niagara Shuttle hit the road in 2016 to increase transportation accessibility to sites in and around Niagara Falls for tourists and locals alike. The Niagara Falls Heritage Area wanted to expand its shuttle outreach to incorporate the other half of Niagara County. It was a long road, but Executive Director Sara Capan said it will be well worth it in terms of economic development and tourism.
“Today we stand in Lockport along the Erie Canal, a world-class engineering feat and marvel. In 2016, we launched the Discover Niagara Shuttle, connecting the communities of Youngstown, Lewiston and Niagara Falls along the Niagara River from the falls to the fork,” said Capen. “Today we are connecting the historic community of Lockport to Niagara Falls, and visitors to the remarkable almost 200-year history of the Erie Canal.”
The Discover Niagara Shuttle originally included 19 stops at attractions in Youngstown, Lewiston, and Niagara Falls. Under the new Lockport route, riders can experience 12 stops at places like Wide Waters Marina, The Kenan Center Art Gallery, and the Flight of Five Locks at the Erie Canal.
The shuttle is designed with hop-on, hop-off service in mind, and is provided free of charge.
In order for this Lockport expansion to have happened, approvals at almost every level of government were required. This was because to alleviate the cost of expanded service, Niagara County needed to raised the hotel occupancy tax by one percent.
Assemblymember Angelo Morinello said raising the “bed tax” allows tourism dollars to go farther in providing a more regionalized experience.
“When you look at it, you have to look at it that tourists are pre-paying for transportation throughout the region. Tourists are coming here. And what's happening is we're giving them a true experience enjoying the entire region,” Morinello said. “It is my hope that as this continues, we can now expand to North Tonawanda. But think about this, the Erie Canal opened up the east to the west, this shuttle is now going from the west to the east.”
Tourism and elected officials hope the shuttle can expand the footprint of tourists to areas beyond the city of Niagara Falls, and into all parts of Niagara County.