BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – NFTA commuters are known to be a tough crowd–standing at bus stops in all kinds of weather, at all hours–but the transit agency is taking steps to ease the ride for Western New Yorkers.
Officials seem to be switching into a “winter mode” with a number of changes and improvements to take some of the sting out of Buffalo’s frigid season.
The most noticeable improvement is a new hi-tech heated bus shelter at the corner of Niagara and Ontario Streets, which is designated the Black Rock Riverside Transit Hub.
The shelter has an electronic message board, interior lights, and is located at a new Metro Bus turnaround. NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said the hub is part of a joint NFTA-City of Buffalo Niagara Corridor Improvement Project.
“Radiant heating inside, so customers can stand inside while they are waiting for the bus and be warm. It has information by way of a ‘smart board’ that conveys when the next bus–or buses–will be coming.”
Hartmayer also talked about “amenities” the shelter will provide for the community, “We are allowing the area around there to post community notices. It has a 25-car Park ‘N Ride for people to park and then they want to jump on the bus and take it out.”
Knowing complaints will be coming up as soon as the Metro area gets hit with a heavy snow, NFTA officials stated in no uncertain terms, clearing the area around bus stops and shelters is the responsibility of property owners where the stops are located, and it is up to local officials to enforce that.
For its part, the NFTA has reconfigured some of its shelters to keep the snow out of its shelters by turning them sideways, at a right angle to the road, so when a snowplow piles up the snow along the thoroughfare, it is blocked.
There are two shelters like that on Grand Island, which Hartmayer said were requested by town officials, including the shelter at the entrance to Fantasy Island.
Hartmayer said the new heated shelter on Niagara Street is a prototype, and as the Niagara Corridor Improvement project continues, the city will be improving Niagara Street with dedicated travel lanes, synchronized stoplights, and there may be more hi-tech transit hubs along the way.