The Buffalo Metro

Buffalo, which is located on the state of New York, USA, is the second biggest city of said state, ranking just one position below New York City. It has around 258,000 inhabitants living in an estimated area of 136 square kilometers.

Historically speaking, this state has been an important meeting point for merchants that transported their goods between New York and Canada since it lies just in the middle of the road. In fact, this city is one of the main enclaves within the Buffalo Niagara Region, a region that is located within the area bounded by the eastern Great Lakes of North America.

However, even though it is located at a good geographical location, Buffalo is one of the poorest cities of the United States, with an average income per family that is barely above 50% of the national average income. The poverty in this city was caused by the transition from the old industry-based economy, which was the main source of jobs, to the new service-based economy. The economic reality of this city was quite different during the 70s and the 80s.

During these years, projects such as the Buffalo Metro Rail became a reality. This train service consists of a light rail train that goes through downtown Buffalo through 10.3 kilometers of length, stopping at 13 stations.

Its construction began on 1979, and it was originally planned to be an extensive heavy train system that would also offer service to the suburbs within the metropolis. However, while the metro was still being built, Buffalo’s population started to decline. As a consequence, the local authorities came to an agreement to only leave a single operational line, which was opened to the public on 1985. The construction of the remaining parts project are currently halted.

Buffalo Metro Rail train at Erie Canal Harbor station, August 1988

Lines and stations

The Buffalo Metro has only one operational line that goes from the north of the city to the south of the city, crossing through downtown Buffalo. It has 13 stations, some of which are at surface-level (in which the journey is free), while the rest are located underground. Its road is spread throughout 10.3 kilometers of length.

Below, we will see the stations of the system in detail:

  • University Station: This station is located between Main Street and the Niagara Falls Boulevard, which is to the south of the campus of the University of Buffalo. Since this is a terminal station, it is an important transfer point for urban and interurban buses.
  • LaSalle Station: This stop lies between Main Street and LaSalle Avenue. Up until November 10th, 1986, this stop was the terminal station for the system, before University Station became the new terminal stop. In its interior, there are paintings of Richard Gubernick, an artist that was born in the city.
  • Amherst Street Station: This stop is located on the intersection between Main Street and Amherst Street. It is close to the All-High American Football Stadium, the Buffalo Zoo, and the Delaware Park-Front Park System historical district.
  • Humboldt–Hospital Station: It is located on the western end of Kensington Avenue, just at the Main Street intersection. This station lies quite close to the Sisters of Charity Hospital, as well as the nearby residencies of the medicine students.
  • Delavan/Canisius College Station: This station is located between Main Street and East Delavan Avenue, and it is widely-known for having the longest escalator in the USA. It is close to Canisius College and the Forest Lawn Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries on Buffalo.
  • Utica Station: This stop is located between Main Street and East Utica Street. It is quite close to Brylin Hospital, the NFTA Transit Police station, and the Cold Spring Bus Garage bus stop.
  • Summer–Best Station: It is located on the intersection among Summer Street, Best Street, and Main Street. It mostly gives service to the inhabitants of Allentown, a nearby neighborhood.
  • Allen/Medical Campus Station: This station is located on the Allentown neighborhood, between Main Street and Allen Street. One of its highlights is the fact that this station is very close to the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.
  • Fountain Plaza Station: This stop is built right in the middle of downtown Buffalo. It´s located on Main Street, right at the intersection between Huron Street and Chippewa Street. It lies close to the Babeville and Trinity Episcopal Church cathedrals. It is also close to Shea's Performing Arts Center.
  • Lafayette Square Station: It is located on the Buffalo Central Business District, right at the center of downtown Buffalo, between Lafayette Square and Mohawk Street. It lies close to Buffalo´s City Hall and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
  • Church Station: This station is close to Main Street, at the intersection with Church Street. It is close to the Buffalo Metropolitan Transportation Center bus terminal and Main Place Tower.
  • Seneca Station: This station is located between Seneca Street and Swan Street. Its location allows you to have access to the Sahlen Field baseball stadium and the One Seneca Center tower.
  • Erie Canal Harbor Station: It is located between Hanover Street and Scott Street. It is close to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park complex and the Canalside street market.
  • Special Events Station: Located between Main Street and Perry Street, right at the southern end of the line, this terminal station lies close to the KeyBank Center complex, the Harbor Center mall, and the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park´s building.
Buffalo Metro Rail Buffalo Metro Rail

Connections

The Buffalo Metro has connections with at least one of the bus lines throughout most of its stops. This is done with the purpose of giving many transportation options for the passengers, so that they don´t have to drive their own cars.

  • University Station: It has connections with the 5 Niagara-Kenmore, 8 Main, 12 Utica, 13 Kensington, 19 Bailey, 34 Niagara Falls Boulevard, 44 Lockport, 47 Youngs Road, 48 Williamsville, 49 Millard Fillmore Suburban and 81 Eastside bus lines.
  • LaSalle Station: It has a connection with the 8 Main bus line.
  • Amherst Street Station: It has a connection with the 8 Main, 23 Fillmore-Hertel and 32 Amherst bus lines.
  • Humboldt–Hospital Station: It has a connection with the 8 Main bus line.
  • Delavan/Canisius College Station: It has a connection with the 18 Jefferson, 29 Wohlers, 8 Main and 26 Delavan bus lines.
  • Utica Station: It has a connection with the 12 Utica, 13 Kensington, 8 Main and 12 Utica bus lines.
  • Summer–Best Station: It has a connection with the 8 Main and 22 Porter-Best bus lines.
  • Allen/Medical Campus Station: It has a connection with the 7 Baynes-Richmond, 8 Main, 29 Wohlers, 64 Lockport, 66 Williamsville and 67 Cleveland Hill bus lines.
  • Fountain Plaza Station: It has a connection with the 7 Baynes-Richmond, 8 Main, 64 Lockport, 66 Williamsville, 67 Cleveland Hill, 81 Eastside, 204 Airport-Downtown Express and 74 Hamburg bus lines.
  • Lafayette Square Station: It has a connection with the 1 William, 2 Clinton, 3 Grant, 4 Broadway, 5 Niagara-Kenmore, 7 Baynes-Richmond, 8 Main, 11 Colvin, 20 Elmwood, 25 Delaware, 40 Grand Island, 60 Niagara Falls, 61 North Tonawanda, 64 Lockport, 66 Williamsville, 67 Cleveland Hill, 68 George Urban, 69 Alden, 74 Hamburg, 79 Tonawanda, 81 Eastside, 204 Airport-Downtown Express, 6 Sycamore, 14 Abbott, 16 South Park, 24 Genesee, 36 Hamburg, 70 East Aurora, 72 Orchard Park, 74 Hamburg and 76 Lotus Bay bus lines.
  • Seneca Station: It has a connection with the 60 Niagara Falls, 61 North Tonawanda, 64 Lockport, 66 Williamsville, 67 Cleveland Hill, 68 George Urban, 69 Alden, 79 Tonawanda, 81 Eastside, 204 Downtown/Airport Express, 8 Main, 70 East Aurora, 72 Orchard Park, 74 Hamburg, 75 West Seneca, 76 Lotus Bay, 6 Sycamore, 14 Abbott, 16 South Park, 24 Genesee, 36 Hamburg and 79 Tonawanda bus lines.
  • Erie Canal Harbor Station: It has a connection with the 6 Sycamore and 8 Main bus lines.

Schedule

The Buffalo Metro, unlike the huge New York metro, does not operate all day long. However, its business hours are still quite convenient for its users. From Monday to Friday, the stations open at 5:00 am, which is the time when the first train arrives at each station. However, some of these trains arrive a bit later than 5:00 am depending on the distance between the target station and the terminal station. The stations close at 1:00 am, which is the time in which the last train arrives at the northern and southern terminals.

Meanwhile, on Saturdays, the rolling stock begins its journey starting at 7:00 a.m., since there are less passengers, and end their journey throughout the 13 stations of the system at 1:00 a.m. If you plan to use the metro on Sundays and holidays, you will have to wait until 8:00 a.m. to board the first train. The last wagon transits the railroad until 11:30 p.m.

Throughout the regular course of the day, the vehicles stop by the stations each 12 or 15 minutes from Monday to Friday. On weekends and holidays, the waiting time between trains increases to 20 minutes, which is a significant increase.

Fares and tickets

The Buffalo Metro offers different prices in order to adjust to the needs of the different users. The total cost of the journey becomes cheaper if you buy tickets with a higher price. For instance, if you are going to travel frequently, a monthly pass is a better option than buying a ticket every day.

Standard Fare

This ticket is only valid for a single ride on the metro or the bus within the city of Buffalo, and it can be used only once. Therefore, if you transfer from the metro to the bus or vice-versa, you will need to get a new ticket.

  • Normal fare: 2 USD.
  • Reduced fare: 1 USD.

Day Pass

This alternative allows you to travel on the trains and buses of the city of Buffalo throughout most of the day, specifically, from 5:00 am to 2:00 am. This ticket can be used in both trains and buses.

  • Regular fare: 5 USD.
  • Reduced fare: 2.25 USD.

Seven Day Pass

With this ticket, you can travel on the Buffalo Metro and the urban bus lines for 7 whole days, which will be counted from the day that you buy the pass.

  • Regular fare: 25 USD.
  • Reduced fare: 12.50 USD.

30 Day Pass

It is a pass designed for users who frequently travel on the public transportation system of Buffalo. It allows you to use the bus lines and the metro system unlimitedly for 30 days. The days will be counted from the moment that you buy the pass.

  • Regular fare: 75 USD.
  • Reduced fare: 37.50 USD.

PAL Pass

Unlike previous passes, which have fares based on the number of days that the ticket lasts, this alternative brings you the possibility of travelling many times, regardless of the moment in which you decide to use them. There are two versions, 10 journeys and 20 journeys, and they are not eligible for a reduced fare.

  • 10 Journeys: 35 USD.
  • 20 Journeys: 70 USD.

Summer Go Pass

This option is targeted towards people under 17 years of age during the months of the summer. It is not eligible for a reduced fare, and it is only valid for the given time, regardless of whether it is used or not.

Fare: 60 USD.

Note: The people that are entitled to a reduced fare are children between five and 11 years of age, and people over 65 years of age.

Rules:

  • While you are waiting for the train, whether you are on a bus stop or a metro stop, keep a safe distance from the yellow line. Also, before entering a train, let the other passengers within the train to disembark first.
  • The seats that are available on the frontal part of the trains’ wagons can only be used by people with disabilities, pregnant women, and senior citizens. Avoid sitting on these seats.
  • If you have not been able to find a seat while you ride the trains and buses in Buffalo, avoid obstructing the doors, and avoid leaning on them. This could be dangerous for yourself, and it would represent an obstacle for the other passengers. Grasp the straps or handrails so that you don’t fall if you can’t find a seat.
  • You cannot ingest food, drinks, nor smoke while travelling on the trains and buses of the city.
  • If you play multimedia content with you mobile device, use headphones to avoid disturbing other passengers.
  • The only animals that can board the system´s trains and buses are guide dogs, which need the proper identification.
  • If for any reason one of your belongings falls on the metro´s tracks, be very careful while picking it up, and make sure that no trains are coming.
  • Children under five years of age should be accompanied by their legal guardians to avoid emergency situations.
  • Wait carefully until the train completely stops. Do not try to board the train if it is still moving.
  • If you bring a stroller with you, go to the first or last wagon, and then go to the end of the wagon. This way, you will not disturb other passengers.
  • Be careful with the space between the trains and the platform, since, if you get stuck in said space, you could be in a high risk situation.

Connection to the airport

Going from the Buffalo metro to the Niagara International Airport is quite simple, even though there are no stations that would let you disembark directly on the airport. The express bus service is fast, cheap, and safe to use. It also connects the airport not only to downtown Buffalo, but also with other nearby locations, as well as this region´s main attraction, the Niagara Falls.

To board any of the buses of the express line towards the airport, you should head towards the Lafayette Square metro station. From this point, you will need to wait for the bus from the number 204 route, also known as the Airport-Downtown Express. Likewise, it is possible to board these vehicles at Seneca Station, since this bus line has a stop at both stations. This journey does not last over 30 minutes, but that depends on the level of traffic from that moment.

The travel fare is 2.50 dollars, and the vehicles that stop by at a frequency between 25 and 30 minutes from Monday to Friday. On weekends and holidays, the waiting times could last for up to two hours. In any case, you can check the arriving times for the buses on the Buffalo Metro’s website.

Likewise, if you wish to go to downtown Buffalo from the airport, the buses are the cheapest and most reliable option. You will find many stops outside of the building, in which you can board the bus lines that travel throughout the entire downtown region of Buffalo. You can also board other bus lines, which have as destinations the metropolis’ nearby communities. However, if you prefer a private means of transportation, there are taxi lines and rent-a-car agencies in front of the airport.

Future expansions

The Buffalo Metro is ranked as the 25th metro with the highest number of daily passengers in the world with its five million passengers. This system could potentially be expanded to significantly expand its already large daily ridership, which is why many firms have shown their interest to eventually expand it. One of them has been the CRTC group, which has chosen to educate the citizens and the governors of Buffalo about the inherent benefits of enlarging the city´s metro. In fact, thanks to initiatives such as this, the NFTA (the organization that manages Niagara Region´s public transportation) announced that they had a budget of 1.6 million dollars to do research to decide the viability of expanding the metro.

Some of these proposals were:

  • Amherst Passage : It´s a project to connect the northern part of the campus of the University of Buffalo with a metro station located at the center of the University. According to a study done on the year 2014, this project would be profitable, and would greatly help the university community of the location.
  • Airport Passage : According to some of the found blueprints, this connection to the airport would start a journey near Church Station, which would then continue through Division Street and Jefferson Avenue, and then through the Buffalo Central Terminal. Then, it would cross through the Broadway district, and, from this point, the train would go to Walden Gallery, until the journey would finally end at the Niagara International Airport.
  • Tonawandas passage : This connection would make the trains start at LaSalle Station towards the northeastern direction, and then they would go to Tonawanda City while transiting the old abandoned roads of the Erie railway. However, the authorities would have to make an investment so that the stops of the new route would fit the size of the pre-existing route.

Touristic attractions

Near the Amherst Street Station, you will find the beautiful Buffalo Zoo, one of the city´s most visited touristic attractions, which is visited by almost 400,000 visitors per year. It was inaugurated on the year 1875, making it the third oldest zoo in the United States. It has a very interesting collection of exotic creatures, as well as a collection of 320 plant species from all over the world. Currently, this zoo is more than just a place to exhibit wild animals. It also acts a shelter that protects species in danger of extinction, and educational guides are offered to make people aware of the importance of protecting the Earth´s biodiversity.

Meanwhile, near the Delavan/Canisius College Station lies the Forest Lawn Cemetery, which dates back to 1849. Since its inauguration, this place has been used as a park, cemetery, crematory, and outdoor museum. Inside of this building you will find mausoleums, memorials and quite striking sculptures, which have been able to get the attention of the visitors throughout time. Also, the people in charge of the place organize events continuously, in which they make tours and expositions about the historical past of the most important characters that have been buried in Forest Lawn. In any case, you should find your visit to this place at least to be a curious experience. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you visit it if you spend a few days in Buffalo.

Metro map of Buffalo

Metro map of Buffalo Full resolution
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Buffalo Metro Rail map

  • Also Known As: Metro Rail
  • Passengers/Day 23200
  • Fares: honour system
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Walk between platforms: No
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • Operator: Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA)
  • 2USD/Free
  • Buffalo Metro Official Website
  • Tlf: +1 716 855 7300

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