News Room

Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority commemorated the 30th Anniversary of the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting unit at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport today during a recognition program for active and retired firefighters at the BNIA firehouse. The BNIA ARFF unit got its start in March 1981, when it was created as the Public Safety department by the NFTA board of commissioners to handle both safety and security functions at the then Greater Buffalo International Airport.

In April 1981, the NFTA's Public Safety unit assumed control of the airport's fire department duties from the Buffalo Fire department. The unit assumed control of the safety aspect by staffing four security checkpoints in the east and west terminals with 42 public safety officers and became the fire department for the Greater Buffalo International Airport.

Henry M. Sloma, NFTA acting chairman said, "It has been a distinguished 30 years for the men and women of the department. They have grown from a small unit assigned to public safety, into a multi-functional department capable of responding not only to aviation related emergencies, but to mutual aid calls for assistance combating major off-airport fires in the region."

From its humble beginnings in 1981, the unit has progressed into an elite firefighting department capable of responding to all types of aviation related emergences, in addition to medical emergencies in the terminal such as cardiac arrests. In 2008, members of the department saved two passengers from cardiac arrest in two separate occasions just two months apart.

When Continental Express flight #3407 crashed in Clarence Center, NY in February 2009, the department was one of the first units on the scene with resources, including truck F4 and its fire suppressant foam dispensing capabilities. Members of the department spent the next five days helping secure the crash site.

In addition, in June the department responded to a multiple alarm fire in Depew, NY at the Twin Village Recycling facility, again with truck F4 dispensing fire suppressant foam to quell the hot fire.

Most recently, the City of Buffalo Fire department called upon the BNIA ARFF unit this past July for assistance in fighting a stubborn chemical warehouse fire at Niagara Lubricant. Once again, fire truck F4 was dispatched and assisted in bringing the fire under control by dispensing 400 gallons of fire suppressant foam on the structure.

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director said, "I am extremely proud of the quality and professionalism each man and woman brings to the department. They place their lives at risk each time they respond to a call, which they do without hesitation. This takes dedication, commitment and professionalism of the highest level. I am delighted at what they have accomplished and look forward to what they will achieve over the next 30 years."

The ARFF department now has a complement of 41 firefighters. The unit trains each day in various aspects of firefighting and conducts periodic tabletop exercises and drills at the airfield with area first responders to ensure that when they do work together in the field they are all using the same techniques and methods to maximize their collective efforts.

Chris Putney, Chief of the ARFF unit and a 30-year veteran said, "I am extremely proud of the exemplary work and effort the men and women of the department put forth each and every day to keep the airport safe. Doing so takes dedication, commitment and professionalism of the highest level. I am proud of what we have accomplished as a group and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead."

Rev. Joe Bayne, OFM Conv., Chief Chaplin, Erie County Emergency Services offered a blessing for the firefighters continued safety of the men and women of the department. In addition, a 30th Anniversary commemorative pin was presented to each active and retired member of the department whom were present.

Further, the program featured a tour of the firehouse and a field demonstration of the firefighting capabilities of fire truck F4 affectionately known as the "beast" of the department.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced today Metro Rail will increase rider capacity for A Taste of Buffalo, Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10, to accommodate riders traveling downtown to enjoy the tasty event.

Extra trains will be added to the regular service on both days so that more passengers will be able to travel at one time. Trains will stop at all stations.

Metro schedules and route maps can be found at nfta.com/metro.

Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that Ms.Vicky-Marie J. Brunette has been named the NFTA's Deputy General Counsel. Brunette, 44, started with the authority in 1994.

In making the announcement, NFTA General Counsel David J. State said, "In addition to handling her current litigation caseload, Brunette will perform General Counsel duties in my absence and play a significant role in implementing compliance initiatives being developed by the authority. This restructuring of the General Counsel's office will improve our ability to serve the authority and the public and I congratulate Vicky on her appointment."

Brunette is a graduate of St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY and the Cleveland- Marshal College of Law, Cleveland, OH. She is a resident of North Buffalo, NY.

Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will once again offer the Summer Youth Pass to youth 17 yrs. and under. With the SYP passengers can ride as much as they'd like June 24 through Sept. 8, on any Metro bus or Metro Rail.

The Summer Youth Pass is $52.50 and available at participating Tops, Wilson Farms, Budwey's, Parkside Pharmacy and Dash's Markets. The Summer Youth Pass also comes with discounts to several area restaurants, shops, and attractions. Pass holders just have to show their pass at participating merchants to receive their discount. The savings are so good the pass almost pays for itself. Passes will be on sale starting June 13.

For more details, in addition to Metro maps and schedules, visit at nfta.com.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that Metro will once again provide complementary trolley service for guests staying at participating Niagara Falls motels and hotels beginning Friday, May 13. The 55T Niagara Falls Blvd./Pine Avenue trolley bus will travel between and downtown Niagara Falls, serving Niagara Falls Boulevard and Pine Avenue.

Service will operate weekends May 13 - 31 and Nov. 24 -Dec. 31, and seven days a week from June 1 - Oct. 31. The service will operate from 9 a.m. until midnight and on all holidays during these service periods.

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director, said, "We have two new trolley buses in our fleet this year. They are larger, so we'll be able to better serve our passengers at peak times throughout the year."

Patrons will receive their trolley day passes that are affixed with a sequential number, upon request at participating hotels and motels. The pass, supported by the local bed tax, allows pass holders free access to the trolley service, and the entire Metro Bus and Rail system in Niagara and Erie counties, on the date the trolley pass is punched by the Metro operator.

Individuals without a trolley day pass may ride the service by paying Metro's regular adult fare of $1.75, 75 cents for children (5-11 yrs.), seniors (65 yrs. and over), disabled and Medicare clients with valid I.D. All other Metro passes are also valid. Children four and under ride free, limit three children per fare paying adult.

Special Route 55T trolley stop signs along the route indicate where riders can board a trolley. In downtown Niagara Falls, the 55T trolley stops are located at The Aquarium of Niagara, Rainbow Blvd., Michael O'Laughlin Drive, Rainbow Blvd., Main Street and near the Seneca Niagara Casino at Third Street and Old Falls Street.

In addition, stops are located at the City Market on Pine Avenue and 17th Street, the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, The Summit, several motels along Niagara Falls Boulevard and the Como Restaurant in Little Italy on Pine Avenue and 22nd Street.

All Metro route maps and schedules can be found online at nfta.com/metro, including trolley maps and schedules.

 

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced today that it has streamlined its Instant Update online messaging program to make it easier for individuals to receive e-mails and text messages regarding NFTA information.

People can sign up at the NFTA's website nfta.com to subscribe to receive status changes for categories such as Metro Bus and Rail service, Metro Rider Alerts for any and all routes, Buffalo and Niagara Falls International Airport updates, Paratransit notices, employment postings and slip holder information from the NFTA Boat Harbor.

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director said, "Utilizing today's cutting-edge technology, we are able to provide our customers with the most current information possible. With Instant Updates, our customers have the ability to receive information important to them in a matter of minutes no matter where they are."

Users of the system have the ability to select categories of interest and designate if they want an e-mail, text message or both, and at what e-mail address and cell phone number they want to receive their updates. There is no cost to subscribe to the program, but wireless providers may charge for each text message a user receives.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced today that they have selected Thomas R. George to be the Authority's new Director of Surface Transportation. Henry M. Sloma, NFTA acting chairman said, "We are pleased to have an individual such as Tom join our team. He possesses strong leadership qualities, knowledge of Metro's operations and the local transportation landscape and is eager to lead Metro at this very important time in its history."

George, 49, was selected after a nationwide search to fill the position that has been vacant since the retirement of Walter D. Zmuda in November 2010. For the last eight years George has been the Executive Director of the Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition.

In his new position George will be responsible for directing the overall Surface Transportation Business Center operation for Metro Bus and Rail and Paratransit services to ensure optimal mobility for the Buffalo Niagara region, in addition to equipment and vehicle maintenance, procurement, financial planning and administration.

As NITTEC's first executive director of the only Canadian - U.S. coalition of its kind, he brought together 14 state, provincial and local transportation agencies in concert with U.S. and Canadian federal authorities to address transportation and mobility opportunities throughout the region and across the international border.

During his tenure at the bi-national agency he oversaw the development of a Regional Concept of Transportation Operations for the Buffalo Niagara region. The multi mode regional operations plan was developed to establish collaboration between all regional transportation agencies.

In addition, he worked with all traffic operations activities throughout the state of New York and Ontario to establish and maintain a consistent approach to traffic management, response protocols, emergency preparedness and traveler information, including the development of integrated systems for data sharing.

He is a graduate of Michigan Technological University where he earned a Bachelors of Science Civil Engineering degree and is a Licensed Professional Engineer.

George will start his new position May 11 at a salary of $125,000. He resides in Akron, NY with his wife and two children.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced the Buffalo Niagara International Airport received a Balchen/Post Award for Outstanding Achievement at the recent 45th Annual International Aviation Snow Symposium.

The Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives recognized the BNIA's "snow removal team" with a First Place Award in the medium commercial airport category. All categories of airports - Commercial, General Aviation and Military compete for the awards. This is the 35th consecutive year that awards have been presented and the sixth time the BNIA has been so honored, with the last recognition being for the 2007-08 winter.

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director, said, "I am extremely proud of our team of snow removal professionals based on the reliable and consistent job they do in keeping our runways safe and open to accommodate aviation during winter storms."

Nominations for consideration come from airlines, pilots, general aviation officials, hotel owners, corporate pilots and ground transportation operators. An independent selection committee screens the recommendations and makes the selections in various categories based on airport size, which is determined by the number of flights in and out of the airport during the year. In making their selections, the committee considered not only the crew's ability to keep the airport runways free of ice and snow, but also equipment readiness, personnel training, and overall safety awareness.

In spite of 111 inches of snow falling at the BNIA this past winter, runways at the BNIA were never closed. "This speaks volumes about the dedication and ability of our airfield personnel who work around the clock, including being away from their families on holidays and missing family functions while working to maintain our runways," Minkel added.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Easter Bunny is making an early trip to downtown Buffalo Thursday, April 21. Riding a specially decorated Metro Rail car, the Bunny will be meeting and greeting his fans, posing for photos and, hopefully, welcoming spring. The train will run between 10:48 a.m. and 5:13 p.m. And remember, Metro Rail is free above ground. The schedule is available here.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport is hosting the 45th Annual Snow Symposium April 17-20 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Organizers expect 350 airport professionals, responsible for runway operations from around the world to attend.

Kimberley A. Minkel, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, executive director, will address the conference Monday, April 18 at 8:30 a.m. speaking about the economic and safety concerns that make snow, slush and ice mitigation so significant and the importance of developing strategies. In addition, she will speak to the BNIA's successful subsurface-engineered wetland glycol treatment project.

One of the featured speakers will be William R. Vanecek, the director of aviation for the NFTA, where he oversees all business and operational facets of both the Buffalo and Niagara Falls International Airports. Mr. Vanecek will be presenting lessons learned from the airport's role in responding to the crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence Center, NY.

This marks the 26th consecutive year the symposium is being hosted by the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Thomas Dames, symposium chairman said, "The site selection committee continues to be very impressed with Buffalo. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, the area hotels and the NFTA all work together to create an inviting, friendly atmosphere for the guests."

"A snowstorm can cost a major airport more than a quarter of a million dollars in removal alone. The cost of delays compounds that number. None of which compares to the potential safety risks ice and snow can create. The chance for snow removal teams from around the world to exchange ideas and best practices is invaluable," Minkel added.

One of the main events of the symposium is the presentation of the Balchen/Post Awards, which are given to airport snow-control teams that have demonstrated determination and excellence in keeping their respective airport runways open and safe during winter storms. Presentations are scheduled for Wednesday, April 20 as part of the 12:30 p.m. luncheon.

Tom Long, symposium vice chairman can be reached at 412- 953-3677 during the event to address media inquiries. Additional information, including the program can be found at www.snowsymposium.org. The Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives organizes the event.

 

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Niagara Falls, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, operator of the Niagara Falls International Airport, announced today that the airport has opened a cell phone lot to assist people waiting to pick up inbound passengers.

The lot is located just south of the entrance to the main lot in front of the new terminal. It provides free parking where people can wait in their vehicle until they receive a call on their cell phone informing them their passengers are ready to be picked up in front of the terminal.

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Niagara Falls, NY . . .

Direct Air, an air service with corporate headquarters located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina announced today it has added two new Caribbean destinations flying from Niagara Falls International Airport. Beginning November 17th, 2011, three NON STOP flights per week departing and returning on Friday, Saturday, and Monday will begin to San Juan, Puerto Rico and Nassau, Bahamas.

Director-General of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism David L. Johnson said "As we seek to develop secondary USA markets to The Islands of The Bahamas, we welcome the opportunity to work with a niche carrier like Direct Air and look forward to building year round services from these new markets to Nassau/ Paradise Island."

Judy Tull, CEO of Direct Air said "Direct Air has built a strong niche service developing underserved markets offering convenient service via smaller, secondary airports as an alternative to high fares and lengthy travel times at big airports. Niagara Falls International Airport is situated just ten minutes from the US/Canadian border, and only a half-hour from Buffalo. This incredible location has benefited thousands of customers in both the US and Canada, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with Niagara Falls International Airport and the surrounding community."

Direct Air President, Ed Warneck states "The partners of Direct Air all agree that we have been and will continue to be a vital presence in the Niagara Falls area. Since 2007, Direct Air has flown over 200,000 passengers from Niagara Falls. Flights to date have averaged a load factor of 85% to and from Niagara Falls, and that number continues to increase. It is Direct Air's goal to grow the Niagara Falls market through increased frequency and adding new destinations as we have done in our other markets."

Direct Air has been offering non-stop and direct jet flight service since 2007. The company is pleased to add Nassau and San Juan to its current markets: Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Pittsburgh, Pa. ; Newark, N.J.; Lakeland, Fla.; Hagerstown, Md.; Columbus, Oh.; Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Toledo, Oh.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Worcester, Mass.; Allentown, Pa.; Rockford, Ill.; Springfield, Ill.; Melbourne, Fla.; Orlando-Sanford, Fla.; Punta Gorda, Fla., and West Palm Beach, Fla. All Direct Air flights are public charters operated on Boeing 737-400, 150 passenger jet aircraft by Sky King Airlines featuring 12 First Class and 138 coach leather seating, and on Boeing 737-800 series jet aircraft. Direct Air is very excited to be flying its one-millionth passenger in 2011.

As part of the opening celebration, Direct Air is offering passengers flying to Nassau and San Juan a special promotional fare of "$99 for 99 Hours". However, certain black-out days may apply. This promotion begins with the press conference on April 7th and will end Monday, April 11th at midnight Eastern time. Reservations can be booked at www.visitdirectair.com or by calling Direct Air's Reservations Department at 1-877-432-3473.

Airfares are one-way, subject to availability and subject to change. Fares do include Federal Excise Tax of 7.5%. Fares do not include Federal Flight Segment Tax of $3.70, September 11th Security Fee of $2.50, and Passenger Facility Charges of up to $4.50 per person per direction of travel. Passenger usage fee $13.00 each way, APHIS fee $5.00, Immigration user fee $7.00, U.S. departure tax $16.30 each way, BS passenger processing $6.00, BS departure tax $20.00, BS Airport facility fee $20.00, Bahamas security charge $21.50. A convenience fee of $15 per direction will be assessed for customers who book at visitdirectair.com or via the call center. Reservations booked by calling Direct Air's Reservations department will cost an additional $20 per person each way, reflecting Convenience fee and $5.00 call center fee. Puerto Rico and Bahamas Flights may include arrival in the US inspection fees up to $17.50, Passenger Facility Charges (PFC) up to $18.00 per round trip passenger in local airport charges, and other government taxes and fees(including U.S. government excise tax) of up to $100.00 per round trip. Additional taxes, fees, and airport charges may apply up to 22% of the fare value per country. See Operator-Participant Agreement for full disclosure.

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Niagara Falls, NY . . .

Direct Air, an air service with corporate headquarters located in Myrtle Beach, SC, announced today it will add another new destination from Niagara Falls International Airport by providing nonstop jet service to the Orlando West and Tampa region of Florida beginning June 24, 2011.

As part of the opening celebration, Direct Air is offering passengers flying between these new markets a special introductory fare of "$79 for 79 Hours." This promotion begins with the press conference on Wednesday, March 30 and will end Saturday, April 2 at midnight. Direct Air will begin with three flights per week, Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays, beginning June 24. Reservations can be booked at www.visitdirectair.com or by calling Direct Air's reservations department at 1-877-432-3473.

Stan Rydelek, Sales Director of Direct Air said, "We are excited to be expanding our presence in Central Florida with the introduction of Lakeland Regional Airport. We are very excited with this addition to the currently served cities of Myrtle Beach, Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda, Melbourne, and West Palm Beach."

Henry M. Sloma, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's acting chairman said, "We are extremely pleased that Direct Air is expanding its reach with new service to Lakeland, Florida."

Judy Tull, CEO of Direct Air said, "Direct Air has built a strong niche service developing underserved markets offering convenient service via smaller, secondary airports as an alternative to high fares and lengthy travel times at big airports." Ed Warneck, President of Direct Air believes the Lakeland Region will be attractive to travelers because of its strategic location situated between Orlando and Tampa / St. Petersburg on Florida's west coast. Passengers will find it as convenient and an economical alternative to the busy and stressful larger airports in Orlando and Tampa. The quick convenient one and a half hour flight will allow more time to enjoy their vacation."

Direct Air has been offering non-stop and direct jet flight service since 2007. The company is pleased to add Lakeland, FL, and Hagerstown, MD to its current markets: Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Newark, N.J.; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Columbus, Oh.; Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Toledo, Oh.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Worcester, Mass.; Allentown, Pa.; Rockford, Ill.; Springfield, Ill.; Melbourne, Fla.; Orlando-Sanford, Fla.; Punta Gorda, Fla., and West Palm Beach, Fla. All Direct Air flights are public charters operated on Boeing 737-400, 150 passenger jet aircraft by Sky King Airlines featuring 12 First Class and 138 coach leather seating. Direct Air is excited to be flying its one-millionth passenger in 2011.

Airfares are one-way beginning at $99 each way and increase in increments based on availability. First Class seats are available for a $100 upgrade each way. Seat assignments in advance require a $10 purchase per person. There is an additional charge for baggage and surcharges may apply for excess/overweight-checked baggage. A convenience fee of $15 each way will be accessed. Air fares do not include Federal Segment Fee of $3.50 per segment (A segment is defined as one take off and one landing), Passenger Facility Charges (PFC) up to $4.50 and September 11 Security Fee of $3.70 per departure.

Contact:

Direct Air Media Relations

Kelsey Dunn

kdunn@myrtlebeachdirectair.com

(843) 916-9700

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced today that the General Counsel Selection Committee has unanimously selected David J. State as its new General Counsel.

Henry M. Sloma, NFTA Chairman said, "Today's selection was extremely difficult. The committee had before it four well qualified individuals who all possessed impressive credentials, but after a lengthy deliberation David was our collective choice."

State, 48, is currently an assistant state attorney general, a position he has held since Aug. 2007. Prior to that he was an administrative law judge with the New State Office of Temporary Disability and a JAG Officer (Major) for the Trial Counsel, 42nd Infantry Division.

Howard A. Zemsky, committee chairman said, "I want to thank my fellow commissioners for their time and commitment through the entire vetting process. As a result of their combined efforts, we were able to unanimously agree on an extremely talented and well qualified individual."

State has previous experience as legal counsel to numerous boards and agencies including the Buffalo Common Council, Preservation Board, Elevator Safety Review Board and the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

An Iraq veteran, he served from May 2004 to Jan. 2006 when he was mobilized to active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served with the Army Judge Advocate General Corps in Iraq. In addition, he holds faculty positions at the University of Buffalo where he teaches Urban Development Law and Policy and at Erie Community College where he instructs on Business Law I and II.

Upon learning of his selection State said, "I am extremely pleased to have been selected from such a talented group of individuals. I am looking forward with great anticipation to working at the NFTA as it gives me an opportunity to continue my involvement in public service, which has been such a big part of my life."

State will be starting his new position in April at a salary of $125,000. He resides in Buffalo with his wife and two daughters.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that the hospitality ambassadors at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport will celebrate their 11th anniversary Tuesday, March 15 during an 11:30 a.m. luncheon at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Historical Site, 641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY.

Approximately 80 volunteers ranging in age from 20 to 80, act as regional "goodwill ambassadors" by providing friendly assistance and helpful information to passengers and guests of the BNIA. The ambassadors, clad in their distinctive blue blazers, assist with directions to local and regional attractions, lodging details, information regarding public transit and in general, act as "liaisons" of goodwill for the region.

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director said, "Our ambassadors are one of the reasons why our airport is deemed to be so user friendly. While the design of the airport has won awards, in the final analysis, it is our people who create the positive difference in the operation. The ambassadors have become essential in our efforts to be one of the best airports in the country."

Henry McCartney, Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, will address the group on the significance of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference, which is coming to Buffalo in October will have on the Buffalo Niagara region. "The ambassadors will play a key role in helping ensure visitors feel welcome and create a dynamic lasting first impression of our community," McCartney said.

While many airports have volunteer programs, the Buffalo airport ranks in the top 10 for the number of hours volunteered. In 2010 over 8,900 hours of volunteered service was provided, which has an economic value of approximately $108,000. Each volunteer who qualifies will be awarded a President's Volunteer Award from the Points of Light Institute as part of the national program recognizing and celebrating the importance of volunteer service.

Several new Ambassadors will be singled out for reaching the Bronze level in the Presidential Points of Light recognition program. This level is achieved by donating 100-249 hours in a calendar year.

Individuals interested in becoming a BNIA volunteer hospitality ambassador can contact Bev Halligan at 630-6072 Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. or online at Beverly_Halligan@nfta.com.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

"With gas prices higher than ever and financial concerns affecting everyone, now is the time to save money and ride Metro Bus and Rail," suggests Kimberley A. Minkel, Executive Director of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

Nationally, nearly 2.5 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the third quarter of 2010, according to the American Public Transportation Association. As gas prices continue to approach $4 per gallon, people are looking for ways to reduce their commuting costs and riding Metro provides the easiest way to reach that goal.

Locally, Metro Bus and Rail combined had 27.3 million boardings last year, its highest total since 2008. As gas prices rise, more people are using public transportation as a means of reducing their daily commuting costs as is validated by a 3 percent increase in ridership over the past four months. Switching from driving to riding Metro for even a few of their trips is a proven way for individuals to cut monthly and yearly transportation costs.

Metro can now answer the question many people are asking . . . How much can I save by using public transit? Metro's website at nfta.com/metro features a user-friendly calculator that lets people insert their commuting data such as distance traveled to work each day, cost of gas, number of days commuting to work, cost of parking, mileage obtained by one's car and with the click of the mouse the program will compute the yearly savings that can be realized by taking Metro.

Using average variables for a daily roundtrip commute to work (40 miles), mpg (23), cost of gas ($3.70 gal), and parking ($7 per day) the person would pay approximately $3,493 per year to drive to work. Using a Metro $4 Day Pass, the person would pay $1,040, achieving a yearly savings of $2,453 according to the calculator.

An additional savings of approximately 30 percent can be achieved by using Metro's Advantage Plan to purchase a monthly systemwide Metro pass. Full details on how to participate in the Advantage Plan can be found online at nfta.com/metro.

"As uncertainty in other parts of the world persists, and Americans continue to suffer economic woes, making the change to public transit today gives individuals the opportunity to lower their transportation costs, and at the same time reduce their carbon footprint, which benefits everyone," Minkel said.

In addition, the website has a Carbon Savings Calculator that will help people estimate the potential reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in terms of pounds one can achieve by switching part or all of their travel to public transportation.

Commuting by public transportation reduces carbon emissions by 20 lbs per day, 4,800 lbs. per year, which is more than if you weatherized your home, converted to fluorescent bulbs and replaced an old refrigerator combined.

To assist people who might be new to Metro they can go online and use Metro's trip planner to assist in planning their trip using the bus or rail, in addition to showing all Metro schedules and route maps that are easy to download and print for future use.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

A special meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will be held Thursday, March 10, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. in the sixth floor boardroom at the Metropolitan Transportation Center, 181 Ellicott St., Buffalo, NY.

The agenda for the meeting will be:

1. NFTA General Counsel candidates

2. Outer harbor property

It is expected that the agenda will be discussed in executive session.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that in light of the increased activity taking place in downtown Buffalo Sunday, Feb. 13, Metro Rail will be providing additional service during the day.

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA Executive Director said, "As a result of Winterfest, the Auto Show, the Pond Hockey Tournament and an afternoon Sabres game all taking place downtown Sunday afternoon, Metro Rail will be beefing up its service to accommodate people attending these events."

All normal Metro boarding fares will apply during the weekend in spite of published reports to the contrary.

All Metro schedules and route maps are available online at nfta.com/metro.

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Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that it has received the delivery of its first newly refurbished Metro rail car at its Yard and Shops facility on Ohio St. in Buffalo, NY.

The first of 27 rail cars to receive a $1.5 million makeover arrived Thursday, Feb. 3 after making the 100-mile trip atop a flatbed truck from Hornell, NY, where AnsaldoBreda Inc. a unit of AnsaldoBreda S.p.A of Italy has been making wholesale improvements to the car.

Eunice A. Lewin, Chairwoman of the NFTA's Surface Transportation Committee said, "We are definitely very pleased that the first car has arrived. While it has been a longer than expected journey to arrive at this point, I am confident we can now move forward with our plans to provide our over 6 million annual customers with one of the most modern light rail systems in the nation."

Giancarlo Fantappie, President & CEO, AnsaldoBreda, Inc. said, "We are very pleased to deliver this first rail car to the NFTA. The second rebuilt car will arrive at the end of Feb. While there have been issues in the past that have plagued this project, those issues are now behind us and we are totally confident that this milestone represents a critical juncture for our relationships with the NFTA as it will allow us to move forward rebuilding their entire fleet of light rail vehicles. This first rebuilt vehicle incorporates unique enhancements and innovative solutions that will provide a higher level of safety, comfort and reliability to the citizens of Buffalo."

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director said, "Metro Rail provides the most environmentally efficient, pocketbook friendly and reliable mode of transportation for thousands of people traveling in and out of Buffalo each and every day of the year. We are pleased to be able to provide these new rail cars so our riders can enjoy a safe and comfortable ride on Metro Rail for many years to come."

Each vehicle is being equipped with a host of new safety features, passenger amenities and mechanical upgrades as part of the $40 million project. Enhanced passengers features include new colored seats and shells, HVAC components, interior emergency audio system, brighter energy efficient overhead lighting, anti-slip coating on door thresholds and interior/exterior LED signage. All cars will become uniform in appearance as the current orange and brown color scheme transitions to an all white background accented with silver and blue trim.

Americans with Disabilities related improvements include flashing lights at all doors, new gong sounds to signal the opening and closing of doors and automatic passenger stop announcements/LED displays to assist hearing and visually impaired passengers. In addition, an inter-car barrier at both ends of the rail car has been designed to prevent blind passengers from falling into the track bed or walking between cars in the above ground section.

The 22,880 riders who use Metro Rail each weekday may not notice the myriad mechanical and safety improvements that each vehicle is receiving, but they are equally as significant to the project. Each car is being equipped with new suspensions, rebuilt gearboxes, air compression system, improved breaking system, overhauled traction motors, refurbished trucks with new wheels and 35,000 feet of new electrical wiring.

The operators' compartment has also been retooled with a new ergonomic design, improved HVAC system, enhanced electric window wipers and side window along with a new seat design for operator comfort.

A second rail car is expected to be delivered mid-Feb., at which point the two cars will be put through a 600-mile "testing and commissioning" process. The testing is expected to take three to four months. Upon a satisfactory conclusion, Metro will ship four cars to Hornell, starting a process whereby one completed car will be sent to Buffalo with Metro sending an additional car to Hornell until all 27 cars are finished. All cars are required to be completed within 36 months from the date of accepting the first two.

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Boardings up 5 percent

Buffalo, NY . . .

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that its Metro Bus and Rail division saw an increase of 1.2 million passenger boardings in 2010 when compared to 2009. Representing a 5 percent increase, it is the second largest one-year gain; surpassed only by an 8 percent increase in 2008.

Metro bus and rail combined had 27.3 million boardings in 2010, compared to 26 million in 2009. This represents the most boarding since 2008 when there were 28.2 million boardings, and is the second busiest year Metro has had in the past eight years.

"There are number of factors involved," said NFTA Commissioner Eunice A. Lewin, chairwoman of the Surface Transportation Committee. "The restructuring of Metro routes to provide more service in its core areas has begun to pay dividends. Additionally, more people are seeing public transportation as a way to reduce the cost of their commute in light of the almost daily increasing price of gas and by eliminating their parking fees."

As part of its recently applied Service Restructuring and Simplified Fare Plan, Metro streamlined its fare structure Sept. 1 by eliminating its four-zone system, and implementing a one-fare per boarding standard of $1.75 reducing the cost of a monthly system wide pass to $64, making Metro easier to use and less expensive to ride.

Further, the entire route system was restructured Oct. 31 by way of adjusting routes and rebalancing service levels, making the bus system more efficient and cost effective. Bus frequencies were increased on the heaviest used routes, and operated less frequently over lesser-used routes. In addition, Metro Rail Sunday service was increased to start earlier and run later.

Metro's Advantage program continues to be popular as a way to reduce transportation costs. Currently 103 organizations participate in this pre-tax arrangement that allows both employees and employers to save money. Employees pay for their monthly Metro pass using pre-tax dollars, saving approximately 30 percent each month. Money spent on pre-tax transit expenditures reduces an employer's obligations to federal and state income tax, some unemployment taxes, and FICA.

"We are seeing the positive effects of the changes we made in the fall, but we are far from finished. We are going to continue monitoring ridership on all of our routes and continue listening to our customers in an ongoing effort to ensure we are providing the most efficient public transit service possible," Lewin said.

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Kimberley A. Minkel to Lead Transportation Agency

Buffalo, NY . . .

The Board of Commissioners of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced today the selection of Kimberley A. Minkel as the agency's new Executive Director.

Minkel, 45, started at the NFTA in October 2002 as its Director of Health, Safety, and Environmental Quality. She has over 20 years of experience in the environmental and safety regulations business along with experience in compliance managing. She earned a bachelor of science degree from Niagara University in 1988 and an MBA with a concentration in management from Canisius College in 1995.

Henry M. Sloma, NFTA acting chairman said, "Today's unanimous vote by the Board speaks volumes about the confidence we have collectively regarding Kim's ability to lead this multifaceted agency. She is a person of integrity, who knows the inner workings of the NFTA, the community and has the necessary qualifications to move the agency forward."

As director of the authority's HSEQ department, she has worked to ensure the safety and protection of its workers, riders, the public and the environment. Recently, she oversaw the completion of an award winning environmental project for the Buffalo Niagara International Airport that uses wetland treatment technology for treating spent deicing fluid in storm water runoff. The BNIA is the first airport in the United States to use such a process. This project was awarded the Diamond Award in the Environmental Category by the NY branch of the American Council of Engineering Companies and a very prestigious Honor Award by the U.S. national ACEC.

"I am honored and humbled at being selected to be the new executive director. I am looking forward to working closely with our 1,500 dedicated employees to ensure that the NFTA is doing all we can to provide the highest quality and safest transportation services possible. I am also looking forward to meeting and getting to know more of our elected officials, and regional stakeholders to make certain that we are engaged at all levels going forward, Minkel said."

Minkel began her career in 1989 at Sevenson Environmental as the Health and Safety Manager, Data Information Manager, and Quality Assurance Officer. She was responsible for managing all field and laboratory data, initiating system audits, and conducted employee safety evaluations.

In 1992, she became Manager of Environmental, Health, and Safety for Washington Mills Electro Minerals Corp. Following this, in 1999 she became Manager of Industrial Hygiene and Environmental Compliance at Xerox Corporation. In both of these positions, she ensured compliance with federal, state, and local guidelines and managed employee accidents, including prevention, investigation, and behavior modification programs.

She is a member of many professional organizations, including Western New York Safety Advisory Committee and Who's Who of Professional Management. In the past, she served on the Board of Directors for the Peace Bridge Authority, the City of Niagara Falls N.F.B. Development Corporation and she is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Buffalo. She has also co-authored several papers dealing with innovative approaches for managing storm water runoff at airports.

Ms. Minkel resides in Lancaster with her husband and two children.

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SUWANEE, GA. – NOV. 12, 2010 – Vision Airlines announces the launch of its low-fare, non-stop air service between Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG) and Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) and one-stop service to Miami International Airport (MIA) beginning Dec. 17, 2010, with rates starting at $79 each way.

Vision Airlines will operate twice a week flights, using a Boeing 737 aircraft, allowing travelers to experience outstanding destinations the minute they step off the plane. Encompassing the southern sea towns of Destin • Fort Walton Beach • Okaloosa Island, Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast has something for everyone, from basking on 24 miles of shockingly-white shoreline and teeing off on more than 1,080 challenging holes, to casting lines in the fish-filled waters of the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and watching dolphins dance at the state’s oldest marine, Florida’s Gulfarium. Just a short 85-minute flight further south, travelers escape to sundrenched Miami, a global mecca for dining, entertainment, nightlife and shopping. Situated along the Atlantic Ocean, Miami is known for its year-round festivals, theatrical performances, historical sites and warm, tropical weather for enjoying its sun-swept beaches.

“Vision Airlines is excited to offer this new, low-cost air service to the Niagara Falls community and surrounding areas,” said David Meers, senior vice president for Vision Airlines. “It is our desire to continue to grow our service and route structure and offer tremendous value to leisure travelers.”

Flight Schedule: Effective Dec. 17, 2010
Starting at $79/each way
Weekly Flights Friday and Sunday

 

“We are extremely pleased that Vision Airlines will be serving the Niagara, Buffalo and southern Ontario regions from the Niagara Falls International Airport,” said Henry M. Sloma, acting chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. “The Florida market is a very popular destination with our customer base and I’m confident they will find favor with Vision Airlines’ low fares and efficient service.”

Vision Airlines – headquartered in Suwanee, Ga. – began operations in 1994. Today it operates a mixed fleet of aircraft including Boeing 767’s, Boeing 737’s, and Dornier 328’s, and has provided leisure and business travelers with low-fare options for the past 12 years. Although it is undergoing expansion, the airline currently serves a number of cities and operates out of three hubs: North Las Vegas Airport, Gulfport Biloxi International Airport and Miami International Airport.

For more information about Vision Airlines, please visit www.visionairlines.com or call 1-877- FLY-A-JET. ###

SUWANEE, GA. – NOV. 12, 2010 – Vision Airlines announces the launch of its low-fare, non-stop air service between Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG) and Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) and one-stop service to Miami International Airport (MIA) beginning Dec. 17, 2010, with rates starting at $79 each way.

Vision Airlines will operate twice a week flights, using a Boeing 737 aircraft, allowing travelers to experience outstanding destinations the minute they step off the plane. Encompassing the southern sea towns of Destin • Fort Walton Beach • Okaloosa Island, Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast has something for everyone, from basking on 24 miles of shockingly-white shoreline and teeing off on more than 1,080 challenging holes, to casting lines in the fish-filled waters of the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and watching dolphins dance at the state’s oldest marine, Florida’s Gulfarium. Just a short 85-minute flight further south, travelers escape to sundrenched Miami, a global mecca for dining, entertainment, nightlife and shopping. Situated along the Atlantic Ocean, Miami is known for its year-round festivals, theatrical performances, historical sites and warm, tropical weather for enjoying its sun-swept beaches.

“Vision Airlines is excited to offer this new, low-cost air service to the Niagara Falls community and surrounding areas,” said David Meers, senior vice president for Vision Airlines. “It is our desire to continue to grow our service and route structure and offer tremendous value to leisure travelers.”

Flight Schedule: Effective Dec. 17, 2010
Starting at $79/each way
Weekly Flights Friday and Sunday

“We are extremely pleased that Vision Airlines will be serving the Niagara, Buffalo and southern Ontario regions from the Niagara Falls International Airport,” said Henry M. Sloma, acting chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. “The Florida market is a very popular destination with our customer base and I’m confident they will find favor with Vision Airlines’ low fares and efficient service.”

Vision Airlines – headquartered in Suwanee, Ga. – began operations in 1994. Today it operates a mixed fleet of aircraft including Boeing 767’s, Boeing 737’s, and Dornier 328’s, and has provided leisure and business travelers with low-fare options for the past 12 years. Although it is undergoing expansion, the airline currently serves a number of cities and operates out of three hubs: North Las Vegas Airport, Gulfport Biloxi International Airport and Miami International Airport.

For more information about Vision Airlines, please visit www.visionairlines.com or call 1-877- FLY-A-JET. ###

The following committee meetings have been scheduled for the month of November 2010. All meetings will be held in the 6th floor Board Room at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority located at 181 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, NY, unless otherwise indicated.

Please note each meeting scheduled on November 18th will be held in consecutive order, however, due to length of each meeting, specific time of each meeting may be delayed.

The subject of the special meeting will be to interview candidates for the Executive Director's position. It is the intention of the Board to discuss all matters in executive session.

Thursday, November 11 Special Board Meeting 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, November 18 Audit and Governance Committee 9:00 a.m.

Surface Transportation Committee 10:00 a.m.

Property Risk Management Committee 11:00 a.m.

Aviation Committee 11:30 a.m.

Monday, November 22 Board Meeting 12:30 p.m.

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WHO: Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police Tactical Team, Erie County Emergency Services, TSA, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, Buffalo Police, FBI and Cheektowaga Police SWAT

WHAT: A simulated exercise involving defusing a suspected explosive device on a bus parked in the parking lot and a hostage situation inside the rail station

WHERE: Metro Rail LaSalle Station, 3040 Main St., Buffalo, NY

WHEN: Sunday, October 17, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

SPECIAL INFORMATION: Metro Rail service will have ended for the day prior to the start of the exercise.

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The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that Phase II of Metro's Service Restructuring and Simplified Fare plan is on schedule to go into effect Sunday, Oct. 31 when changes to Metro routes and schedules will be implemented.

"Metro is adjusting routes and rebalancing service levels to make the whole bus and rail system more efficient and cost effective," said NFTA Commissioner Eunice A. Lewin. "This is necessary due to continued financial pressure on our budget, less available operating assistance and changes in riding patterns." The adjustments come after a thorough yearlong operational and financial evaluation of the entire Metro system.

Passengers can now see changes that have been made to routes and schedules as they are finalized by going online to nfta.com/metro. Each route is listed in a special section, showing the current level of service and what adjustments will be made as of Oct. 31. In addition, informational brochures will be available on buses, at Metro transportation centers and in rail stations.

The modifications are designed to improve service for Metro riders, however, a minority of riders will be impacted by some of the changes, though most of the higher ridership core routes, which carry a majority of Metro's passengers will have little change, except for adjustments to service levels. The goal is to have routes run at regular intervals of 15 minutes in certain areas and during peak ridership times, or every 30 or 60 minutes during the evening and weekends.

Buses will run more frequently over the heaviest used parts of a route, and less frequently over the lesser-used parts. Suburban service has been redesigned to be more efficient and easier to understand with some new route names and numbers and fewer confusing route and trip variations. Some route segments and two entire routes, #51 and #56, which have a history of low ridership will be discontinued. Express routes have also been revised to be more reflective of historical ridership patterns.

Metro Rail will increase Sunday service starting Oct. 31, as service hours will be expanded to operate from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. at 20-minute intervals. There will be no change to weekday or Saturday service.

Lewin added, "Perfecting the restructuring of Metro's system will take some time. It is more of a process than an event. The process starts now, making the system financially stronger, more efficient, cost-effective and ultimately better for our riders."

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WHO: Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting and Transit Police, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, Rural/Metro Medical Services, New York State Police, Erie County Sheriff's Dept., Lancaster, Cheektowaga, and Amherst police depts. In addition to the City of Buffalo Fire Dept., Erie County Emergency Services Department, Erie County Medical Center, Kaleida Health and Catholic Health.

WHAT: A crisis management exercise involving a simulated aircraft accident at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. There will be no business interruption or visual impact inside the terminal.

WHERE: Access to the exercise will be from 247 Cayuga Rd., north entrance, behind the Airfield building, just outside Gate 4. Because this exercise takes place on the airfield, access will be limited.

WHEN: Saturday, September 18, 9:00 a.m. If you wish to cover this event, you need to be at Gate 4 by this time. Michael Martineck, NFTA Public Affairs, will be available to escort media.

SPECIAL INFORMATION: As part of the drill, emergency vehicles will be responding to the airport. They will NOT be responding with lights and sirens, but may turn on their lights once at the scene. The sight of emergency vehicles converging to the airport may concern people living in the neighborhood, using the facility or to those having family working at the airport.

It would be very helpful if you could inform the public in advance that this is a planned drill and there is no reason for concern.

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Buffalo, NY . . . The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has launched a series of public information sessions to help the community fully understand Metro's new fare structure that goes into effect Sept. 1. Metro is eliminating zones, and zone charges, as well as moving from 12 different passes to two: the Metro Monthly pass and the Metro Day pass. Metro will have staff on hand to answer questions at the following times and places:

August 17 Old First Ward Community Center

10 a.m. - 1 p.m. 62 Republic Street

Buffalo, New York

August 20 University Rail Station, South Campus

2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Main Street

Buffalo, New York

August 23 Metropolitan Transportation Center

9 a.m. - 11 a.m. 181 Ellicott Street

Buffalo, New York

August 23 Niagara Falls Transportation Center

1 p.m. - 3 p.m. 2250 Factory Outlets Boulevard

Niagara Falls, New York

August 24 West Side Community Services

9 a.m. - 11 a.m. 161 Vermont Street

Buffalo, New York

August 25 Valley Community Center

10 a.m. - 1 p.m. South Park Avenue and Leddy

Buffalo, New York

August 26 Gloria J. Parks Community Center

1 p.m. - 3 p.m. 3242 Main Street

Buffalo, New York

August 27 LaSalle Rail Station

2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Main Street and LaSalle Avenue

Buffalo, New York

September 2 Tosh Collins Community Center

10 a.m. - 1 p.m. 35 Cazenovia Street

Recreation Department

Buffalo, New York

September 3 Allen/Medical Campus

2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Main Street and Allen Street

Buffalo, New York

A complete review of all of the service and fare changes can be viewed online at nfta.com.

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Buffalo, NY . . . The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that Metro would provide service on the 36 Hamburg and 14 Abbott bus routes to the Erie County Fair & Exposition Wednesday, Aug. 11 through Sunday the 22.

On weekdays, Route 36 Hamburg buses depart for the Fair from Mohawk and Ellicott Streets, starting at 8:37 a.m. and approximately every hour thereafter with the last bus leaving at 9:43 p.m.Buses returning to Buffalo start departing the grounds at 10:11 a.m. and continue almost hourly up to 11:02 p.m. Buses stop at both McKinley Avenue and South Park entrances.

Saturdays, the first 36 Hamburg leaves downtown Buffalo at 9:15 a.m. The last bus leaves the fairgrounds for Buffalo at 9:30 p.m. Sunday service to the Fair starts at 11 a.m. with the last bus leaving the Fair at 9:50 p.m.

Additionally, the 14 Abbott bus would provide service to the Fair on Saturdays only, with three round trips serving only the McKinley Avenue entrance. The first 14 Abbott leaves downtown at 9:10 a.m. from Mohawk Street and Washington Street, with the last bus leaving at 1:10 p.m. Departing buses start at 10:03 a.m. with the last bus leaving the Fair at 2:02 p.m.

Metro fare to the fairground is $2.35 for adults and $1.05 for children five to 11 years old, senior citizens (65 & older) and the disabled with approved identification. Children four and under ride free with a fare-paying adult (limit three children with fare-paying adult.)

Rider Alerts listing the outbound schedule to the Fair will be posted on all buses and in Metro facilities.

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Buffalo, NY . . . The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced it has installed eight touch-screen information kiosks at strategic points throughout Buffalo Niagara to provide current information about NFTA services.

The stand-alone computer terminals provide online information about Metro bus and rail service, the Niagara Falls and Buffalo airports, the NFTA Boat Harbor, and even the NFTA itself. Job postings and other details regarding the Authority are right at the users fingertips. In addition, the kiosks provide access to the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau and Niagara USA Web sites, giving users an easy, reliable overview of the region.

Lawrence M. Meckler, NFTA executive director said, "Our goal is to assist people who are looking for public transportation, and general tourist information, where and when they need it most. The kiosks will help keep people informed even when they don't have a laptop or smart phone handy."

The user-friendly kiosks are located at Metro's University Station, Portage Road Transportation Center, Niagara Falls Transportation Center, the Metropolitan Transportation Center and the Buffalo and Niagara Falls Airports.

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Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority

Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority   |   181 Ellicott Street   |   Buffalo, New York 14203
NFTA 716-855-7300   |   NFTA-Metro Customer Care 716-855-7211   |   TTY/Relay 711 or 800-662-1220
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Metro Bus & Rail Buffalo Niagara International Airport Niagara Falls International Airport