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NFTA Commissioners Vote for No Fare Increase

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By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Metro Bus and Rail passengers will not be paying more for public transportation. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority approved a resolution Tuesday that will keep Metro fares at the current level for 2002-2003.

The NFTA decided to dropped plans last month to seek a 25-cent fare hike in light of Governor George Pataki's state budget proposal. It calls for a $10 million increase in operating assistance for the NFTA.

The NFTA board also approved a recommendation to keep three suburban express routes operating in North Tonawanda, Amherst and Lockport. But Commissioners did approve a recommendations to eliminate the Number 14 Abbott "C" line, extending past the ECC South Campus. Other routes were also modified.

NFTA Board Chairman Luiz Kahl says it is always a "balancing act" when adjusting services.

"We are never going to able to satisfy a 100 percent of the population," Kahl said. "But what we tried to is minimize as much as we could the impact on the 90,000 people that ride our system every day."

Modifications in some of the bus routes will mean layoffs for about 30 to 40 part-time bus operators. Vincent Crehan, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1342, urged the board not make any service changes.

"What we need to do instead of to start cutting back, it's so much harder to restore service then it is to cut it," Crehan said. "This would be the second time in the last six months that we have cut service out on the street."

NFTA Executive Director Lawrence Meckler says there has been a decline in ridership. Since December, the NFTA has experienced a $2 million deficit. Meckler says there has not been a Metro fare increase since 1995.