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Sunday, June 7, 2015
By +Scott Leffler

Arthur Kinney gets off the 55L Friday. He was one of seven passengers to do
so. The NFTA, however, says 28 people rode the bus in the fourth quarter of
2014. Using those figures, they've canceled the route effective June 19. 
"I can't take the 44 to the train. It takes too long."

Those were the exasperated words of a woman who missed the 55L back to Niagara Falls on Friday.

"I'm going to be stuck in Lockport and I have no money for a taxi," she said to the person on the other end of her cell phone call.

In two weeks, her only option on the NFTA from Lockport to Niagara Falls will be just that, however. With the cancelation of the Lockport to BOCES portion of route 55 — the 55L — the NFTA leaves her choice as catch the Niagara Rural Transit bus at 6 p.m. or wait for the 44 at 7 p.m. to catch the MetroRail, which she would take to Main Street in Buffalo where she would catch the 40A back to Niagara Falls. From there, she could get on the 55 to her original destination. Her now hour-long bus ride will be a three-and-a-half-hour ordeal including three transfers. The now $2 cost will be upped to $5.

The unnamed woman Friday night was lucky enough to get a ride to NCCC from a stranger. But one couldn't count on such good fortune regularly.

According to the NFTA, only 28 passengers were carried during the final quarter of 2014. That's a little less than half a rider per day. However, the bus pulling into Lockport at 6:05 Friday had seven riders get off. Two more got on to take the 6:09 from Lockport to the Falls. That makes for nine riders that used one of the four buses that traveled into and out of Lockport on Friday.

One of those riders was 20-year-old Art Kinney, who got off the 55L from Niagara Falls. He said he takes the bus five days a week.

Kinney said he's known about the 55L cancelation for about five weeks, having seen a notice at the Portage Road bus station in the Falls.

Another rider who got off the Lockport-bound bus Friday was 19-year-old Deshaun Lowe. He comes to Lockport for the weekends. He was unaware of the change until he was asked about it by East Niagara Post on Friday. He's not sure of how he'll manage his transportation two weeks from now.

Alliyah Jordon uses the 55L three to four times per week, going back and forth between Niagara Falls and Lockport, often stopping at NCCC for class. Like Lowe, she was unaware of the impending change until asked by ENP.

Her response: "This is the worst day ever."

Jordan said the NFTA's numbers are off. She said there's usually about five or six people riding between Lockport and BOCES — or NCCC, actually. That's a lot more than half a person per day.

The 19-year-old Niagara Falls resident said it's bad enough not being able to get to Lockport on the weekends. With the cancelation of the "L," it'll be even worse, she said. "I'll have no transportation. I'm young. I don't have a car right now. What will I do?"

Jordan isn't the only one wondering. For now, the clock is ticking. Jordan, Kinney, Lowe and others have two weeks to answer the question: what will they do?

Niagara County Legislator Dennis Virtuoso has asked for a meeting with the NFTA to discuss the issue, he told East Niagara Post on Friday.


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