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History of Metro

In 1834 Buffalo's first horse car line began operation. Since then, it has been 170 years of uninterrupted transit in this region. The men and women and Metro Bus and Rail are proud to carry on the tradition.

Metro has 1119 full time and part-time employees, utilizing 332 buses, 27 rail cars, 35 vans and four trolley-buses. Carrying about 94,000 people a day, Metro travels 8.9 million miles in a single year, helping the region save gas, reduce traffic congestion and preserve a clean environment.

Buffalo-Niagara continues to change and Metro continues change right along with it, keeping the region on the move.

Buffalo Public Transit Timeline
1825 Erie Canal completed (public water transportation giving Buffalo a prominent advantage)
1834 1st record of urban public transportation by a horse-car line on Niagara St.
1835 Omnibuses (forerunner of the modern bus) ran from downtown Main St. to Goodrich Hill in Clarence.  
1843 Buffalo linked to Albany by iron rails  
1860 June 11th began the horse-car service  
1870s Horsecars carried over 5 million passengers annually
1880s Cable cars waned rapidly and the city depended solely on horse-drawn transit
1888 Frank J. Sprague installed the first electric streetcar in Richmond, VA
1890 On Christmas Eve, the Buffalo Railway Co. begins operating the area’s first permanent electric streetcars.  They run from Main St. all the way to Cold Spring (near today’s Delavan Canisius college Station.  
1892 The Niagara Falls & Suspension Bridge Railway commenced trolley operations in the Cataract City of Niagara Falls  
1894 by the end of the year, horsecars became extinct and were replaced by electric streetcars
1895 August 20 the most famous of local trolley lines opened, the Great Gorge Route (Niagara Gorge Railway) which ran without any equal for 40 years
1898 August 15 interurban trolley service opened between Buffalo and Lockport  
1900 Construction of the principal city trolley car lines is mostly complete  
1901 It is possible to travel from Buffalo to Olcott Beach by trolley, with boat connections to Toronto  
1902 the electric streetcar reigned supreme Niagara Frontier’s electric railways were taken over by the International Railway Co.  
1908 Trolley cars ran between Buffalo, Lockport and Rochester  
1909 Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Co. was completed allowing continuous electric travel from Syracuse to Buffalo, then on to Wisconsin
1916 in July during a Shriners convention, the IRC carried 4.3 million passengers, the most ever in Buffalo transit history
1918 on June 9th the IRC opened the Buffalo Niagara Falls High Speed Line.  It cost over $4 million to build, but dramatically decreased travel time.  
1920s The interurban trolley network began to disintegrate and the beginning of the Great Depression 1929 only made it worse  
1923 the International Bus Co. begin a service on Bailey Ave. A year later motor-driver double-decker buses begin appearing  
1930s independent trolley lines of Buffalo go out of business or were replaced by buses  
1935 Sept. 17th the Niagara Gorge Route goes out of service due to a serious landslide just north of the bridge of the Grand Truck Railway  
1937 Aug.22nd the International Railway service on the high speed line and Niagara Falls streetcar service both abandon service  
1938 April 17th streetcars are replaced by buses in Lockport  
1940 City of Buffalo and the IRC agreed to eliminate streetcars within ten years because the system is in such bad shape.  
1942 IRC transports 100 Million people
1943 Riding customers rise to 123 million, as transportation resources are pressed into service for the war.
1947 IRC declares bankruptcy
1950 Assets of the IRC are transferred to a new corporate called the NFT (Niagara Frontier Transit System) Streetcar operation terminates July 1st with a parade in honor of the end of all street car service and the beginning of Mack buses
1954 Radio-dispatching is introduced.  Two years later air-conditioning entered the scene  
1959 August 3 express bus service begins over the newly constructed Niagara Thruway, due to massive population shifts from the City of Buffalo to the suburbs.  
1960s For the first time new buses are purchased with two-way radios.  August 23,1961 Buffalo becomes the largest privately-owned radio transit system in the world.  
1961 Aug. 11th NFT purchases the Buffalo Transit Co. bringing about unified service to the suburbs east and south of the City.  
1967 The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is created by the State Legislature  
1969 A 42 day work stoppage by transit workers drives away many customers for good.  
1973 The NFTA receives federal and state grants amounting to $12 million for the purchase of the Niagara Frontier Transportation and several other privately owned bus lines.
1974 April 1, the Niagara Frontier Transit Metro System Inc. begins public operation.  Fare is reduced by five cents (down to 40 cents) on June 1, in an effort to boost the number of riders  
1979 May 18 construction on the 6.2 mile Metro Rail line between downtown and University of Buffalo South Campus begins  
1986 Full completion of the rail base of Main Street from the Erie Canal Harbor station to University station  
1990 All Metro service shuts down due to funding shortfalls, but is restored after about two days when an agreement with the Erie County Government is reached  
1991 Americans with Disabilities Act charged all transit to be easily accessible with lifts or ramps  
1993 Metro introduces Paratransit Service with five vans.  
1995 Loss of financial assistance, which partially accounts for substantial fare increases and service reduction  
1998 July 20 the first non-traditional Hublink service is implemented as the MetroLink NY-West shuttle begins in Amherst  
1999 Celebration of the 25th anniversary of Metro Bus & Rail.  Fleetlynx AVL system is installed inside buses.     
2002 Metrolink services begin in Lockport, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda.  Metrolink Downtown Express bus service created with a Park & Ride lot and also at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport

Metro executes agreement with Bryant and Stratton as the first participant in Metro's Unlimited Access College Pass Program
2003 Metro rail fare increased by 25 cents for the first time since 1995 from $1.25 to $1.50

2004 Metro adds Airport Downtown Express Route 204 which connects downtown Buffalo to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Medaille, Buffalo State and Canisius Colleges execute agreements with Metro for College Pass Programs

2005 Metro adds Trolley Route 55T which serves Niagara Falls Blvd., Pine Ave., Niagara Falls International Airport and downtown Niagara Falls, USA

2006 NFTA releases first fleet of new Hybrid buses to the public. The buses use a combination of diesel/electric technology and have environmental benefits

2007 In April, Metro breaks ground for a new $6.4 million Transportation Center on Factory Outlet Blvd., Town of Niagara

2008 Metro adds Bus Route 210 - Airport-Niagara Falls Express to service the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and the Niagara Transit Center and downtown Niagara Falls

2010 Kimberley Minkel becomes the first woman executive director in NFTA history. Metro eliminates fare zones and transfers.


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