Kearns seeks meeting with NFTA over stranded disabled rider

Mar 20, 2017

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has apologized to a man who reportedly was left waiting for a paratransit vehicle for more than an hour after a scheduled pickup. A state lawmaker whose office assisted the individual wants to meet with NFTA officials to prevent it from happening again.

The incident happened in the late afternoon hours last Thursday in Southgate Plaza. B.J. Stacio, who is wheelchair-bound, was awaiting pickup by a paratransit bus to return home from his job. His reported pickup time was scheduled for between 4:30 and 5 p.m. The ride didn't arrive until after 6 p.m.

Todd Vaarwerk of WNY Independent Living speaks in the office of State Assemblyman Michael Kearns. At right is B.J. Stacio, who was reportedly left waiting for more than an hour in cold weather after his scheduled paratransit ride didn't show up on schedule. Assemblyman Kearns, standing, wants to meet with the NFTA to discuss how to prevent such incidents from happening again. The NFTA has apologized to Stacio for the incident.
Credit courtesy State Assemblyman Michael Kearns' office


State Assemblyman Michael Kearns' district office is located in the plaza. An office employee noticed Stacio waiting outside and brought him inside until the transportation arrived. 

"It was something that I found out on late Friday and I met with the gentleman on Saturday," Kearns told WBFO. "I just thought this is something that needs to be addressed by the NFTA immediately."

The NFTA extended an apology to Stacio and vowed to determine why he was not picked up on schedule. Kearns acknowledged the apology but wants to meet with NFTA officials to explore how a similar situation may be avoided in the future.

Kearns told WBFO that lawmakers were able to secure additional capital for the NFTA in last year's state budget to purchase a system that "should help in this matter," but he blames last week's incident on a lack of communication. 

He is hoping to have that meeting with NFTA officials later this week, after first taking care of obligations in Albany.

"We're going to have the disability community at the table," Kearns said.