Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

September 19, 2012

IT'S TANGLED

Coalition hopes to curtail NFTA's plans to cut Route 201

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NFTA’S Route 201 is vital to Lockport, according to the Lockport 201 Coalition which met Tuesday afternoon at the Dale Association in an effort to keep buses operating in the city.

The circulatory route not only takes residents around Lockport, but connects the people of the city to Buffalo. In return, Erie County folks use public transportation to come to Niagara County.

The NFTA plans to cut Route 201 out of its busing plans in December. Without Route 201, the paratransit service, which carries people in wheelchairs may also be cut.

The Niagara County Rural Transport Service (RNT) connects outlying towns to Lockport and there is some overlap. Will they connect?

It gets tangled.

The busing issue was not untangled Tuesday and time is running out. The Lockport 201 Coalition, the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope (NOAH) and VOICE-Buffalo are working with Sen. George Maziarz and Henry Sloma, former chairman of the NFTA, to solve the dilema and there are no easy answers.

Money issues

The NFTA is losing $7 millon a year. Niagara County pays into the NFTA through mortgage taxes, but that’s only a portion of what it costs the public transportation company.

The county is financially strapped, particularly with the uncertainties surrounding the loss of its biggest taxpayer, AES Somerset. The county does not have the money that NFTA wants.

“We’ve talked about,” Chairman Bill Ross said after Tuesdays legislative metting, “We are trying to come up with a solution. It has be very affordable, we haven’t turned our back on them. We know those 45 people are very important. but we also have 216,000 other people.”

Paratransit issues

Transportation for the disabled takes up much of the NFTA budget, according to Sloma. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits exclusion of the disabled from any program receiving federal financial assistance. The law was extended to include local government.

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