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NFTA Metro Rail getting $100M for badly needed repairs

Money is planned to improve reliability and upgrade rider experience in stations
Posted at 6:35 PM, May 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-06 09:58:22-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's (NFTA) Metro Rail system started operations in the mid-1980's, but there has been no dedicated revenue source for updates and repairs.

After more than thirty years, the Metro Rail is now facing many age-related problems such as rusted tracks, cracked concrete beds and electrical issues.

"There are communications and train control systems that are so outdated that replacement parts aren't even available anymore," said New York State Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), who is also the NYS Senate Transportation Chair.

"No one wants to be on a train that stops and not know why. No one wants to get on an escalator that doesn't work," added NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo).

Both Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes have secured a commitment from NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo for $100 million to make the needed repairs.

The money will be allocated out over a five-year period and will focus on a variety of issues such as :

-Track replacement
-Train system control replacement
-Escalator replacement
-Electrical upgrades
-Video surveillance upgrades
-Public address system upgrades
-Station ventilation replacement
-Lighting improvements
-Light rail vehicle rebuild

Poor conditions of the aging system have contributed to delays, which have chased away riders.

According to the NFTA during the period FY2013 to FY2018, Metro Rail ridership declined nearly 40% from 6.2 million riders in 2013 to 4.5 million riders in 2018.

In addition to the $100 million for repairs/upgrades, the state has committed $6 million so the NFTA can begin engineering studies for expansion of the Metro Rail down Niagara Falls Boulevard to the UB North Campus in Amherst.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in the attached report.