The Buffalo Metro Rail is a public transit rail system that is operated by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority . The system consists of a single 6.4-mile long light rail line that runs along most of Main Street in the City of Buffalo, from KeyBank Center in Downtown Buffalo to the south campus of the University at Buffalo in the northeast corner of the city. 5.2 miles of the route is underground, with 1.2 miles running the surface of Main Street from Shea's Theatre to Canalside.
At the time of construction, the rail system was intended to connect most of downtown Buffalo and extend into the nearby suburbs. Unfortunately, it never went further that the 6.4 mile run along Main due to the rapid decline of residents living downtown throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Main Place Mall was intended to be the downtown "centerpiece" that would draw heavy use of the rail with it's anticipated traffic; let's just say the mall never lived up to expectations. The rail operated in the red for many years due to the declining population, however has seen a comeback in ridership in recent years as Buffalo has rebounded. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo announced that funding will be secured for the first extension of the Rail. If successful, the Rail will be extended on the southern end to the Cobblestone District, with extensions to Amherst on the northern end.
Some fun facts: Regular fare costs $2, however the above ground portion is free. Fares are collected by a proof of payment system that's enforced by ticket inspectors (which I hear are few and far between). Trains arrive at each station every 10 minutes during rush hour, and no longer than every 20 minutes throughout the day. On average, the Metro Rail will service over 6 million riders annually. Catenary poles are spaced every 130 feet to support the overhead electrical lines. The NFTA's entire fleet consists of 27 trains, which are numbered sequentially from 101-127. Although the cars can reach speeds of 50 mph, you'll see them cruising at a cool 15mph.
My inspiration for this post came while I was browsing through some of my old albums. I quickly realized that I might have had a tram obsession at one point - and it showed with all the pictures I collected of them. To be honest, I simply enjoy seeing the light rail vehicles rolling along Main during my outings and I feel it adds a great element to our downtown. So to wrap things up, here's a bunch of pictures with LRVs. Enjoy!