In a letter to the New York State Transportation Commissioner, Congressman Brian Higgins called for a review of options for a new Amtrak train station, including a potential new location at Canalside or Buffalo's Central Terminal.
Many, including Jennifer Licata, support a train station at Canalside. "It's kind of a central location. It's become a big tourist attraction. We don't have things like Uber which a lot of people have been complaining about. So, I'm sure any extra mode of transportation would be desirable," she said.
Last week, heavy rain caused the roof to collapse at the current station on Exchange Street. "It is an insufficient facility for the volume that we could be getting in riders and it's insufficient for all the progress we're seeing in downtown," said Buffalo Mayor, Byron Brown.
Brown also supports a train station at Canalside.
Higgins said the cost of the study could come from the $25 million included for the station in the New York State Fiscal Year 2015-2020 Transportation Capital Program. That allocation is currently slated for expenditure in 2019 and 2020. Higgins suggested that an early release of an amount necessary for a formal analysis of alternatives, estimated to be in the $1-$2 million range, would allow for stronger application for federal transportation funding.
The Congressman noted the current station in Buffalo is among the worst in the nation and suggested the region is deserving of a new station, potentially at a location other than the existing Exchange Street site that better fits the needs of the city today. "It may not have been possible 15 years ago, but restoration of the Central Terminal is possible in the new Buffalo," Higgins stated in his letter to Commissioner Driscoll.
The Buffalo-Exchange Street Station was built in 1952 and in 2015 saw a ridership in excess of 116,000 passengers. Significant investments have been made to other stations throughout the State and in Western New York including: the ongoing $16.5 million project underway in Niagara Falls supported through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program and a $770,000 renovation to the Depew station in 2012 funded through the Federal Railroad Administration's High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
"If we begin to lay the groundwork today this community will be well positioned to take advantage of the next opportunity to secure federal transportation funding for Buffalo's train station," Higgins argued.
"Anything that brings traffic to the city has to be a good thing," Licata added.
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