LOCKPORT – Niagara County’s Rural Transportation System will step in to provide bus service within Lockport after the MetroLink Route 201 shuts down at the end of the month.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced Friday that starting Dec. 3, the county system will augment its existing routes with four trips each weekday on almost the same route that Bus 201 has been serving for the past six years.

The NFTA is dropping Bus 201 as of Nov. 30 because of chronically low ridership, leading to heavy financial losses. Barbara Hill, the Social Services Department employee who directs the county bus service, said her system can provide the system for much less cost.

Hill said the extra stops will add only 66 miles per day to the county bus system’s travels, with an additional cost of about $9,000 a year. She said the county system will continue the service as long as ridership justifies it. Fares are $2 per ride.

“It’s the best alternative available to us, and really the only one,” said Michael Boron, director of the Outreach Center at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and part of a faith-based committee that agitated to save Bus 201.

NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said Route 201 cost about $300,000 a year to operate, yet ridership averaged only between four and five passengers per circuit.

The bus made nine circuits per weekday around Lockport, visiting major shopping and office areas and connecting them with housing projects and mobile home parks.

The county’s bus system, funded primarily through state and federal subsidies, was set up chiefly to connect outlying areas of the county with Niagara County Community College in Sanborn.

Hill said the Lockport circuit will be added to existing routes traveled by county buses 1B and 3D.

Bus 1B will start its Lockport circuits at 10:15 a.m., 11:05 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Bus 3D, which already has late-afternoon Lockport stops at the Dale Association, the corner of South Transit and Robinson roads, the corner of Bowmiller and Dysinger roads, Akron Road and High Street, will add a 5 p.m. jaunt into northwest Lockport, stopping on Corinthia, Trowbridge, Niagara and Michigan streets.

Hill said Bus 3C, a midafternoon run, also connects with South Transit Road shopping areas.

Bus 3C and 3D also connect with the Metro Bus shelter on Locust Street, the terminus for Buses 44 and 64, the NFTA’s routes to and from Lockport to Amherst and downtown Buffalo.