State Assemblyman Sean Ryan is calling for a full operational review of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which recently approved a plan to cut one quarter of its bus routes in Erie and Niagara Counties. Ryan says the NFTA's leadership, which voted for the plan in response to a $15 million budget gap, shows its lack of understanding for the importance of the bus system by so many residents.
The Buffalo Democrat stood at the corner of Baynes and West Ferry, along a route slated for elimination effective April 1. 2012.
"People buy a house or rent an apartment often based on the proximity of the bus services. People rent a double on Baynes Avenue because they know they can take the Baynes Avenue bus to their job," said Ryan. "Once that bus is eliminated, there is no other way for the people to get to their jobs, and that'll of course destabilize people economically, and it will destabilize our neighborhoods."
Ryan also noted that several routes linking urban neighborhoods to both Erie and Niagara's community colleges are also scheduled for elimination.
He suggested that the NFTA's problems have grown in great part due to their lean away from core services such as bus and rail, and into managing the Niagara Falls International Airport and the small boat harbor, just to name two examples. Ryan recommended the NFTA explore options such as divesting those properties or letting private companies assume control of operations on their properties.
In addition, Ryan called for the resignation of longtime acting NFTA chairman Henry Sloma, as well as representation on the board of commissioners by someone who actually uses the bus on a frequent basis.