New York State legislators are eyeing a plan to set aside $100 million to fund maintenance work in Buffalo’s light-rail system.
The plan calls for creating a separate pot of cash for the 6.4 mile system. Buffalo’s Metro Rail has traditionally received a portion of transportation funds designated for bus systems across upstate New York. Light-rail advocates and Democratic legislators say that situation has led to rapidly deteriorating track conditions and subway stations.
Buffalo’s Metro Rail is run by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), which also operates 61 bus lines and two airports.
Democrats took control of both the House and Senate in New York last year and promptly threw their support behind increased funding for light rail. Last year the state legislature secured just $9 million in funding for Metro Rail maintenance, according to local news reports. The NFTA then used those funds “to fix broken escalators, worn overhead catenary that supplies electrical power, deteriorating tracks and even station walls rusting away from decades of exposure to underground moisture.”
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.