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Support growing for Metro Rail extension

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Local supporters of expanded public transit are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, with increasing support for extending the Metro Rail.

Speaking to the annual meeting of Citizens for Regional Transit, Doug Funke says there is increasing public interest and the NFTA is doing two-extension studies, to UB in Amherst and into the Cobblestone District near Canalside.

Funke says the group is taking no position on the site for a new football stadium but he favors Orchard Park.

"We're already got parking. We've already got infrastructure and you have a right of way for light rail that goes there. So, instead of spending money in the city, put the stadium out there and use that right of way, use the money you're going to invest into light rail," Funke said.

"Not only does it give you light rail to the stadium on game day for all the thousands of people that need to get there in a short period of time, but it's also a park and ride for the rest of the year."

Funke says more and more cities are starting transit systems or expanding what they have, whether light rail, heavy rail or commuter trains. He says the Millennial Generation of young people is increasingly vocal on the need for better public transportation.                     

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.