The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority won a promise from New York State for $100 million in funding over five years for infrastructure improvements to Buffalo’s Metro Rail system.
The move is welcome news for the 6.4 mile system, which has deteriorated over the years. In February, state legislators began discussing a plan to set aside a separate $100 million funding source for the city’s light-rail line.
“This critical funding will upgrade this system into a 21st century railway that New Yorkers deserve, helping to grow the local economy and helping to ensure this remains a region on the move,’’ New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement released over the weekend.
Local media reports credit Senator Tim Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat, with pushing the plan for Metro Rail forward. ““We made it a priority, especially with the downstate investments of historic proportions, that we are making historic investments in Buffalo and Western New York as well. This is something that I committed to not coming home without,’’ Kennedy told The Buffalo News.
In addition to the infrastructure funds, the state also appvoed $6 million for an engineering study to expand the 6.4-mile rail line to the University at Buffalo’s North Campus.
Metro Rail has 13 full-time stations: five above-ground and eight underground. An additional “special”station serves the KeyBank Center during major sporting events and concerts.
Buffalo’s transit system has been the focus of much attention of late. News of the funding plan comes less than two months after the NFTA received a $778,000 federal grant to study a proposal to extend light-rail service from Buffalo to the nearby community of Amherst, NY. And just a week before that Hohl Industrial Services Inc. and Scrufari Construction Co. won a $27.7 million design-and-build contract for an intermodal passenger transportation hub planned for downtown.
Metro Rail is run by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), which also operates 61 bus lines and two airports.