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Frustration grows as NFTA bus routes remain suspended

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 17:46:09-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — If you ride an NFTA bus and have noticed your bus has been less consistent, or does not show up, you're not alone.

"We were originally told that they were going to make some changes, make some route cuts and they would be temporary,” Dennice Barr said.

The Erie County Legislature held a special meeting Wednesday to address growing frustration with the NFTA.

In February, the NFTA temporarily suspended eight express routes and several others began running on a reduced schedule.

Barr said she relies on the bus and has never seen things get this bad.

"When you're cutting off communities that are mostly people of color from being able to get access of health care and jobs and food, then it is a huge problem,” Barr said.

The NFTA said the cut and reduced routes will not become the permanent schedule, but for now, it has no choice because of a driver shortage.

In January alone, the NFTA said it had 127 workers who became infected with COVID-19.

“That meant that they were out of work for 5-10 days,” Executive Director of the NFTA Kim Minkel said. “And we just didn't have the ability to coverage that service."

Minkel said 91% of the overall system is still running, despite ridership being down 50%.

But she said in 2008, ridership increased by as much as 20% when gas prices increased, so they are anticipating the possibility of ridership increasing again.

"I think it takes some time, so if gas prices are sustained over the next couple of weeks, I would expect to see an uptick,” Minkel said.

Minkel is not sure when bus routes will return to normal. She said the NFTA will continue to take this week by week.

"I don't want to overpromise and not be able to deliver,” Minkel said.

"I have no confidence in the leadership of the NFTA at this point,” Barr said.