Metro Bus Route 201 will continue past May 13

LOCKPORT — Metro Bus Route 201 in Lockport will not be discontinued May 13, a spokesman confirmed Monday, after State Sen. George D. Maziarz announced at a public meeting that the matter is being reviewed.

“They are not hard and fast on that May 13 date. They are going to take a look at it,” Maziarz, R-Newfane, told an audience of about 50 in the Dale Association, at a meeting called by a faith-based coalition seeking to save Bus 201.

“This route has more complications than some other routes,” C. Douglas Hartmayer, spokesman for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, said by telephone after the meeting.

Maziarz said one of the possibilities was altering Niagara County’s Rural Transportation Service to improve service within the City and Town of Lockport.

Barbara Hill, who heads the bus service for the county Social Services Department, said the county buses already stop at many of the same locations as Bus 201, as part of longer routes that connect Lockport to the Niagara County Community College campus in Sanborn and several outlying towns and villages.

Hartmayer said another possibility is altering the route of Metro Bus 44, which connects Lockport with downtown Buffalo, to make more stops within Lockport.

“We will not be eliminating the 201 on May 13. We don’t know what’s coming after that until we do the analysis,” Hartmayer said.

Bus 201 runs a circuit within the City and Town of Lockport nine times a day, stopping at major stores and housing complexes.

It was put on the chopping block as part of the NFTA’s effort to close a budget deficit.

“Not everything can be put in dollars and cents. This is a quality-of-life issue for this community,” Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said.

Low ridership made Bus 201 vulnerable. Hartmayer said last week that the average number of passengers between January and March was 39 per day, based on a sample of 402 circuits during that period.

Several speakers said elderly and disabled people depend on Bus 201 to shop and make medical appointments.

Ruth Standberry, who lives in the Spires on Ontario Street, said walking is an option for her, but not for many others.

“Lockport’s not as small as people think it is. It’s pretty big if you have to walk around it,” she said.

Katrina Riccobono, a service coordinator for Urban Park Towers on Main Street, said the subsidized rental tower’s location on a bus route is “a big selling point.”

“There is no parking available to our residents, and only about 10 of them have cars,” she said.

Michael Boron, director of St. John’s Outreach Center, said access to shopping is needed since much of the City of Lockport meets the U.S. Agriculture Department’s definition of a “food desert”: low income, few cars and no supermarkets.

Amy H. Witryol, Maziarz’s Democratic opponent in this year’s election, said the NFTA has structural financial issues.

“They’re missing their forecasts rather substantially,” she said.

Original Article: http://www.buffalonews.com/city/communities/lockport/article814673.ece