Buffalo Wings Service gives UB students chance to explore downtown Buffalo

Buffalo’s first entertainment shuttle gives students nightlife option outside of Heights


University Heights residents have complained for years about UB’s Stampede bus service that transports party-seeking and at times rowdy students into the area.

Now there’s a new shuttle service giving students a different alterative to crowded house parties and a chance to explore a night out in downtown Buffalo.

Buffalo Wings Service launched last weekend, making the shuttle service Buffalo’s first hop-on-and-off entertainment shuttle. The service provides rides with 26 total stops – 13 stops each northbound and southbound – and takes riders to Buffalo’s eight entertainment districts: the University Heights, Hertel Avenue, Elmwood Village, Allentown, Chippewa Street, Pearl Street, Canalside and Buffalo Creek Casino.

The route starts up at Main Circle in the Heights and ends down at Buffalo Creek Casino.

“You hear on the news of kids just walking around up in the Heights,” said Buffalo Wings co-owner Jacob Hager. “We’re trying to get them all downtown to the districts for the entertainment – there are bars, restaurants, sporting events and theaters down there so it gets people to all the main hot spots in Buffalo.”

Hager created the service and purchased the shuttle with his friend Riley McFarland. The idea for the business came after McFarland called Hager complaining about how he spent more than $60 on cabs during a night out in Buffalo.

The idea’s inception took place about a year ago and stemmed from the two’s frustration with transportation in Buffalo nightlife.

The root of their shuttle service idea stemmed from SUNY Brockport’s Eagle Run Shuttle – the two graduated from Brockport in 2012. The bus is similar to UB’s Stampede except it takes students into Brockport’s nightlife districts. Hager said that he and McFarlane wanted something like the Eagle Shuttle for students, locals and tourists in Buffalo.

Last weekend, they launched the Buffalo Wing Service on a trial run by providing rounds of free rides on Friday and Saturday night.

The launch wasn’t as big as they had hoped.

Hager said they pulled up to students to let them know they were giving free rides but students walked away because they weren’t aware of the service.

The shuttle sits 18 people but could fit 26 with the standing rails on board. The shuttle has leather seats, Bluetooth radio and a 32-inch flat screen TV.

Caroline Black, a senior economics major, said she would try the shuttle for a night out with her friends. If she liked the service better than taking a cab, Black would consider using the shuttle more often.

“I am questionable about this service but I think it has potential,” Black said. “I don’t think 26 people is enough to fit the demand and I think the business would do better if there were more shuttles running at once to make it more available.”

Before starting up this service, McFarland and Hager attended the same grade school and college and studied abroad together in Ireland. After graduating from SUNY Brockport, McFarland worked as a regional sales manager for an insurance company and Hager had a job as an American landman, performing various tasks for oil and gas companies.

The close friendship between them led to their co-ownership.

“Naturally we were close and understood each other’s goals and motivations,” McFarland said. “I knew the operations side of the business and he knew the tourism and marketing aspect – a good fit for business.”

The Buffalo Wing Service cost about $38,000 to get one shuttle running, Hager said. They plan to launch another bus to make the travel process more efficient.

McFarlane and Hager worked to reach people in Buffalo to raise money for their business but ultimately ended up relying on parents and some close friends for funds.

In addition to being co-owners, they operate the shuttle as well. One of them drives while the other manages the passengers when it gets rowdy and to retain a good image.

Hager said they are partnering with Step Out Buffalo, which makes list of things to do in the city.

“We are going to play it on the TV so people know where to go, what bars and specials to check out and what plays and games are going on,” he said.

Buffalo Wings Service shuttle can be tracked through GPS on its mobile app to present users with access of the shuttles location.

The service is available from Thursday to Sunday with hours ranging from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Round-trip tickets can be purchased online or on the app and prices vary from $5 to $10.

“I think Buffalo has been waiting for a service like this,” McFarland said. “Mainly because the options out there are subpar to say the least, but secondly – and more importantly – our service brings Buffalo into the 21st century with its easy to use mobile technology.”

Dani Guglielmo is a features desk editor and can be reached at dani.guglielmo@ubspectrum.com.