Metro rail to connect North Campus and Downtown Buffalo

NFTA project manager speaks to UB alumni about upcoming expansion

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Rachel Maloney said she frequently traveled between campuses to access the metro rail as a UB student and “always wished there was a better way.”

She’s trying to change this experience for current students.

Maloney, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority planning project manager and ‘09 urban planning alum, is spearheading a metro rail expansion that will “seamlessly connect” North Campus to Downtown Buffalo.

Maloney discussed the NFTA’s plans with roughly 50 UB alumni at Big Ditch Brewery on Thursday. The current metro rail runs between Harbor Station in Downtown Buffalo and University Station on South Campus. NFTA is working closely with UB on the expansion project, which Maloney said will replace Stampede buses, since it is relying heavily on ridership from faculty and students. The project is still in its “preliminary stages,” but Maloney said as the project head, she is “living proof” it will happen.

Maloney said the expansion of the metro rail to North Campus will provide a “convenient, safe, reliable and quick” transportation option for the UB community.

“UB is at the heart of our expansion project,” Maloney said. “I think this will provide students with an opportunity to have access to not only three different campuses, but also the community. They’ll be able to experience the community, Buffalo and the region more than they ever could.”

Students on North Campus currently must travel to South Campus in order to take the metro rail into the city. Tom Piwtorak, ‘09 electrical engineering alum, said he feels this process is a “major hindrance” to students experiencing downtown.

“When I was a student, I had Sabres season tickets,” Piwtorak said. “So with this expansion going to North Campus, it would be a seamless, single-transit trip from North Campus to the Sabres arena.”

Maloney emphasized how this expansion will benefit international students. 

 “A lot of international students are kind of limited,” Maloney said. “I think this will provide an amenity to those international students to get around and be more comfortable in this area.”

Alex Rankie, ‘17 finance and real estate alum, said he could see international students making use of the metro rail, since UB has a large international population. 

“I knew a lot of international students who didn’t have cars [when I was in college] so I could see them benefiting from this expansion,” Rankie said.

The metro rail will stop at three different stations on campus: east of Flint loop, near Lee Road and at the Ellicott Complex.

NFTA estimates the project will increase employment since roughly 100,000 jobs will be within walking distance of the transit line. Maloney said the line will also create temporary construction, mechanic and train operator positions. 

Rankie said one of Buffalo’s “biggest drawbacks” is the infrastructure and this line will help solve that.

“With this metro rail, it will allow people to commute downtown, be more centrally located and get around Buffalo easier,” Rankie said.

Piwtorak said the rail will be a “newer, better and faster” approach to the Stampede.

Brittany Gorny is a senior news editor and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com