Buffalo, NY - The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) held the first of six public hearings Monday, to get input on a sweeping plan aimed at improving the efficiency of its Metro Bus operation.
The plan entitled "Making Metro Easier" calls for the elimination of several sparsely ridden routes, and scaling back service on a host of others. This will allow for more busses to be placed on more popular routes, according to the NFTA.
Fares would remain at $1.75 and zone fares, which currently equate to higher fares for longer rides, would be eliminated.
In addition, the plan would eliminate bus-to-bus transfers and the sale of tokens, as well as drop the price of a system-wide monthly pass by 17%, from $77 to $64. The NFTA hopes to re-coup the money through an increase in ridership.
Some of those who spoke were not happy with the called for reductions in service on less popular routes.
"I understand the economy and I know things are difficult. But I would just urge that whoever is making decisions to think about the disabled people whose lives you really have a large part in," said Nancy Hills-Miller, whose daughter is a disabled person dependent on the bus to get to work.
"Before the NFTA reduces commuter options, I think maybe that we should consider whether money can be saved in other parts of the organization," said Karl Spencer, who brought with him several pages which he said contained the signatures of several other people concerned about the proposed changes.
"We can't be everything to everybody everywhere," said NFTA Chairman Henry Sloma. "We just can't do it because we don't have the resources."
Sloma concedes this approach represents somewhat of an "about face" for the NFTA, which in the past had been reluctant to eliminate routes, even those only returning a few cents on the dollar.