Elevator and escalator repairs and revamped rail cars are some of the projects the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority expects to take on with $9 million in the 2018-2019 New York State budget dedicated to the light rail.
"When we're in the situation like we are with so many capital needs, having an influx of $9 million makes a big difference," Tom George, director of public transit for NFTA, explained. "We can move forward and create safety and enhancements."
The authority has had these programs in place, but some remained unfunded.
The NFTA credits NYS Assemblymembers Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Sean Ryan and Monica Wallace for working to include this much needed funding in the budget.
“I applaud the NFTA for continuing to keep the system operational as they continue to somehow do more with less," Peoples-Stokes said. "This $9 million in capital investment will help make critical repairs in maintaining the overall health of the NFTA Metro Rail system. I’d also like to thank Governor Cuomo and DOT Commissioner Karas for not only recognizing the need but for helping the WNY Delegation do something about it."
While the NFTA explores a possible expansion into Amherst, maintaining the current rail system is crucial in order to qualify for federal aid down the line.
"When you start to look at expansion there is criteria that you need to meet in order to get federal funding," George said. "Federal funding is a critical component of any type of expansion."