BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – Plans for a full replacement of aging escalators at Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority metro stations are on hold for now.
Some frustrated riders have complained about the problem for years. News 4 has done numerous stories about broken down escalators over the past couple of years.
And while the recently passed New York State budget includes a $6.5 million increase in aid to the NFTA, it doesn’t come close to the $27 million needed to switch out the entire escalator system.
State Assemblyman Sean Ryan D-Buffalo helped push for the additional transit funding from Albany.
“Right now there’s just not enough resources. There’s no magic money to come in and say let’s do a rehab of your federally funded transit system. We looked to the federal government for that and the federal government has not answered the door,” Ryan said.
Meanwhile, the NFTA has identified nearly $3 million in its budget to replace one of the escalators this year at the Delevan-Canisius College Station, and maintain the existing escalator system.
“This year we plan to replace one of the escalators at the Delevan Canisius College Station and continue with an aggressive maintenance program for other escalators based on the funds that we have available,” an NFTA spokesperson stated.
Ryan said he will continue looking for additional funding sources, but believes the federal government needs to provide more support to transit agencies like the NFTA.
“The NFTA has cut fat. They’ve cut muscle, and now they’re down to the bone. So, what we need to do is keep this infusion of state money going so the NFTA gets out of its protective shell and actually starts growing again,” he said.
According to the NFTA, a Federal Surface Transportation Bill, which is set to expire on May 31 of this year, would provide funds that could be used for the authority’s escalator modernization program if it’s reauthorized.
“Hopefully Congress will see the many benefits of passing the new legislation, which will authorize additional transportation related funding for the NFTA,” an NFTA spokesperson stated.