GObike News

March 13, 2020

Comments Due for NFTA Metro Rail Expansion

The NFTA is soliciting comments on their proposed plan to extend the existing 6.4-mile metro rail in Buffalo from its current terminus at University Station on the University at Buffalo South Campus to Tonawanda and Amherst. 

GObike's comments, drafted by GObike engineer Jim Jones, are included below. In summary, as always, we encourage the NFTA to consider additional actions to implement best practices in inclusive street design to create a safe, comfortable, and encouraging environment to walk, bike, and use transit. Specific suggestions include: 

  • Explicitly defining goals for reducing vehicle miles traveled (how the project will encourage people to drive less)
  • Including complete streets elements like reduced lane widths (which discourage speeding), protected bicycle lanes, bus rapid transit, and improved intersection design using technology that helps automate pedestrian safety
  • Including mobility hubs in proposed stations, with amenities to support commuters use of multiple modes (e.g., biking and transit)

The public comment period for the Draft EIS will be open until March 24, 2020. Comments may be submitted on this website using the comment form, by email to railx@nfta.com, or by mail to:

Metro Rail Expansion Project
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
181 Ellicott Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

Additional project information is available on the project website

GObike Comments on NFTA Metro Rail Expansion Project

A draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) has been completed by the Niagara Frontier Transit Metro System, Inc. (Metro), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), to extend Metro’s existing 6.4-mile light-rail transit (LRT) system in Buffalo, New York, to Tonawanda and Amherst, New York. Metro is proposing to expand the LRT from its current terminus at University Station on the University at Buffalo (UB) South Campus, along Kenmore Avenue, Niagara Falls Boulevard, Maple Road, and Sweet Home Road, through the UB North Campus to John James Audubon Parkway and Interstate 990 (I-990). Ten stations are proposed as part of the 7-mile extension, two of which would contain a park and ride facility—and a light maintenance/storage facility is proposed at the end of the line.

GObike Buffalo appreciates the promotion and advancement of a robust and highly functional transit system and we support the NFTA’s efforts to extend LRT service northward from UB south campus to UB north campus. We appreciate the potential economic opportunity this expansion could bring to the region; however, we wish to comment on the DEIS as follows:

  • The project Goals & Objectives stated in Table S-1 do not explicitly state that overall total Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) are reduced by the LRT. This should be a paramount goal to reduce Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) trips which are known to decrease safety, land use and transportation efficiencies.
  • Table S-3. Proposed Action Traffic Capacity Change only includes recommendations benefiting SOVs. There is no recommendation to replace traffic signalization with state of the art, high-resolution detection and control. Bicycle lanes are omitted from the table and must be considered for traffic capacity change. Lane width reductions should be included to support safer speed operations.
  • S.4.6 Substations should include Mobility Hubs for successful transportation mode change and continuity
  • Table S-4 Environmental Impacts Summary must be more stringent regarding right-of-way (ROW) acquisitions for road widening. Widening should not be warranted if proper, best practice measures are taken at key intersections such as roundabouts and high-resolution traffic signal control. Street widening significantly impacts pedestrian safety and comfort and complicates bicycle navigation through the intersection. Level of Service impacts should be mitigated by proper intersection design and should be offset by reductions in VMT. LOS does not consider pedestrian nor bicycle safety and comfort.
  • Chapter 13. Transportation. The NACTO Transit Street Design Guide and NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide should be the predominant reference for any new facility. Table 13-12 Proposed Action: Traffic Capacity Change the Brighton/Maple/Niagara Falls Boulevard intersection should be redesigned to accommodate dedicated bicycle facilities; the westbound right turn lane should be eliminated to improve the pedestrian crossing. Protected bicycle lanes should be added to Niagara Falls Boulevard (Fig. 13-3 & 13-5), Maple Road and Sweethome Road. Transit Boarding island widths could be reduced to 10’ to minimize ROW impact and better accommodate protected cycle tracks. Sweet Home Road should be reduced from four lanes to three lanes (Fig 13-7). Bike lanes should be included on John James Audubon Pkwy, FIg 13-9 and travel lanes reduced to 10 feet.
  • 13.5.3 Parking, parking demand estimates for proposed park and ride should be reduced to and coordinated with existing parking facilities available to the public.
  • 13.5.4 Pedestrian and Bicycle suggests only minimum improvements for bicycling (i.e., 5’ wide bicycle lane) and pedestrian movement and should be elevated to preferred designed guidance (i.e., protected cycle track) to truly provide safety and comfort. Connectivity between campuses must be included. This is essential for the success of the project supporting first-mile and last-mile trips.
  • 21.1 Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources, NFTA should prepare to adapt expectations to consider a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) solution in lieu of the current LRT recommendation in order to still satisfy mass transit objects in a significantly more cost-effective manner.
Comments Due for NFTA Metro Rail Expansion