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Monday, April 27, 2015
State Sen. Rob Ortt says planned NFTA cuts will hurt riders of its Paratransit service. (SCOTT LEFFLER / ENP STAFF)


State Sen. Rob Ortt urged the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) today to reconsider its proposed plan to discontinue some of its fixed bus routes, which would consequently impact its Paratransit service.

The NFTA announced it planned to eliminate Route 57 — running between Niagara Falls and Tonawanda — as of June 21.

Paratransit Transportation is a van service used by individuals with permanent or temporary disabilities who are medically eligible.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Ortt said he fears cuts to the system would be a quality-of-life issue with those in the disabled community. The transit service is readily accessible and affordable for an individual who has a physical or mental impairment.

“When a fixed bus route is eliminated, the Paratransit system goes with it, unfortunately,” Ortt said via a press release. “I understand ridership is down and certain routes are not being used to its fullest potential, however, alternatives are few for those who use Paratransit, and they depend on it. This public transportation is key for independence for disabled riders.”    
Sen. Ortt said he and his colleagues fought for more money in Albany for the NFTA — a total of $6.4 million for the NFTA in the recently adopted New York State Budget. Of that amount, $2.5 million was earmarked to help the NFTA maintain current schedules for some of its bus routes. And, $3.9 million is for capital assistance.

Sen. Ortt says he is willing to sit down with the NFTA’s Board of Commissioners and the Western New York Delegation to discuss options to reconfigure possible effected bus routes throughout the Buffalo Niagara region in order to maintain the current Paratransit system.    

An NFTA response to Ortt's press release says that Metro is presently working on rerouting Route 25 to cover much of the eliminated portion of the 57 after June 21 and will be continue to offer Paratransit service for the eliminated portion of Route 57 through March 31, 2016, in order to give riders an opportunity to make other arrangements going forward.

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