OPINION / COMMENTARY
Are you concerned about access to work and schools for your children and grandchildren? Are you worried about getting around when you become too old to drive? Are you ready to trade in the long commute for a pleasant hassle-free ride to work?
If you said yes to any of those questions, then you are ready for alternatives to driving alone.
Here are some alternate transportation options in Western New York:
- Walking, for starters. Some neighborhoods continue to have all the essentials within walking distance: grocery, church, school, doctor, restaurants -- and a transit stop.
- Bicycling extends the range of walking. Several streets and roads are now marked with bicycle lanes, and several stalwart residents bicycle year-round.
- Carpooling mitigates some of the problems of driving alone, but requires good organizing. See GoodGoingWNY.com for many ways to car-pool effectively.
- Public transit or NFTA-Metro, offers bus routes and one light rail route for Erie and Niagara counties. The system works well for those who live close to a major corridor and whose daily activities are conducted along that corridor. Visit metro.nfta.com for details.
- Metro Park & Ride lots for suburban commuters. Visit metro.nfta.com/Programs/Lots.aspx for details.
- Metro + Buffalo CarShare. Adding a car-sharing service to the public transit experience extends the effectiveness of public transit enormously, especially for those who do not own a car. See buffalocarshare.org to learn how this service works.
At Citizens for Regional Transit (CRT), we educate and advocate for the best and most realistic alternative to driving alone, namely rail transit, both light rail and streetcar.
Metro Rail was originally funded in the 1980‘s as a rapid transit rail line to connect the Amherst campus with downtown Buffalo. The original plan for Metro Rail included four major rail corridors: to the Tonawandas, to Amherst, to the Buffalo airport, and to the Southtowns. Buffalo was a pioneer with its light rail line, but every other system built in North America since then has expanded. Will the current leadership do better?
Currently, CRT supports these efforts:
- Allen/Medical Campus Station of NFTA Metro Rail as a focal point for Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) employees and visitors to reach the campus. BNMC is already formulating new ways to wean their employees from using automobiles on their campus.
- Planning for access to the City of Buffalo's Outer Harbor. Public transit along all of the Lake Erie waterfront must be improved and enhanced so that residents and visitors may reach the waterfront readily without cars.
- The NFTA Amherst-Buffalo Corridor Alternatives Analysis, which examines the travel corridor between the two main campuses of the University of Buffalo, with an eye toward new public transit infrastructure (bus or rail). This is the first time that the authority has considered completing the light rail line.
- An engineering study led by the Western New York Railroad Historical Society will provide the basis for grant applications to build a historic streetcar to connect their Discovery Center with downtown Buffalo. A track or line to carry the streetcar would provide the initial railway for a Southtowns extension of Metro Rail.