Upcoming improvements to the ride on the No. 5 Metro Bus along Niagara Street sound enticing.
Gone will be the stop-start-stop-start experience. In its place will be a smoother and faster ride along one of the system’s busiest routes. And it will be thanks to the ability of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to obtain federal grant money to cover most of the $4.5 million cost of developing a “high-quality transit corridor,” from City Hall at Niagara Square to the intersection of Niagara and Ontario streets.
In addition to the 80 percent funding the authority obtained from competitive federal grants, New York State will pay for 10 percent of the project. That leaves the NFTA paying the other 10 percent.
One of the biggest pieces of this transformation has to be its enviable traffic signal synchronization. As reported, when a Metro bus on the new No. 5 route approaches an intersection, it will electronically send a signal to extend a green light. That will allow Metro to be able to develop faster runs and increase the chances of being on schedule.
Synchronized traffic signals in the city. Imagine that. But there’s more.
The move into the 21st century also includes bus shelters, some even with heaters and several with electronic signs indicating the arrival time of the next bus; a neighborhood transit center with a park-and-ride lot and bus holding spaces where Route No. 5 intersects with several other major transit lines, and the purchase of five new buses powered by compressed natural gas.
The NFTA made a commitment to energy efficiency years ago by purchasing several hybrid buses. The system now has 94 hybrids out of 300 buses. Good to see that it is going further along that road with a study of enhanced, solar-powered shelters along Niagara Street at the intersections of Carolina, Hudson, Ferry and Delavan, although there are no definite plans yet.
The transit center is set tentatively for somewhere in the Riverside neighborhood serving Routes 3, 5, 23, 32, 35 and 40. Public input in the design phase will soon begin.
New shelters, new buses, a transit center and traffic signal prioritization are estimated to be complete by March 2015.
Solar-powered shelters, synchronized traffic lights to reduce bus idling and lower emissions from cleaner-burning vehicles are all encouraging steps and good news for the neighborhoods along bus routes.
These changes are designed to make commuting by bus less of a chore. That should entice new riders to the system, and increase satisfaction among current riders. In addition, the increased energy efficiency of the system should attract those looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to commuting by car, one person per vehicle.