U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $11 million in federal funding for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), which operates in Erie and Niagara Counties. The funding was provided through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will be used to purchase modern and less-polluting Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses. Schumer previously wrote to the Department of Transportation in support of NFTA’s application for funding to buy new CNG buses.
“Transit service is a lifeline for many Western New York residents, and this new vital funding will allow the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to purchase brand spanking new, fuel efficient, Compressed Natural Gas buses to provide riders with a safe and efficient ride and help the environment all at the same time,” said Senator Schumer. “I fought tooth and nail to help create this funding stream because investment in transportation infrastructure is critical for residents and businesses. I will continue to work to ensure that the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and other transit agencies across New York have the funding they need to move from dirty diesel to cleaner CNG and to modernize their fleets so commuters can have a safer, faster and more efficient ride.”
“Bus transit is a vital form of travel for many New Yorkers, and this federal funding will be used to purchase new, fuel efficient buses to serve the communities in Erie and Niagara counties,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This is a major investment that will help strengthen our transportation infrastructure, making service more efficient for commuters while reducing air pollution.”
“We are grateful for the tremendous support we receive from Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand,” said Kimberley Minkel, NFTA, Executive Director. ” By replacing life and mileage-expired diesel-powered buses with new CNG-powered models, this project will increase access to clean, reliable, and efficient public transportation services for thousands of Metro Bus riders across the region.”
The senators explained that currently, almost one-third of the NFTA bus fleet are beyond their useful life in terms of both age and mileage, and over 40 buses are out of service each month for repairs. Due to these challenges, the NFTA has been forced to dedicate all federal formula funding to preventive maintenance activities. This has put a strain on the NFTA’s overall capital budget and has led to a significant backlog of deferred capital projects across the organization, including the purchase of new buses. The senators said with this funding from the FTA, the NFTA will finally be able to modernize their bus fleet.
The Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration awards capital investment grants for bus and bus-related facilities. This program finances the acquisition of buses, ancillary equipment, and the construction of bus facilities, like maintenance facilities, garages, storage areas and bus terminals. The funding appropriated for the bus capital program is fully allocated to projects designated by Congress.
A copy of Schumer’s original letter to the Department of Transportation appears below:
Dear Secretary Chao:
I write to express my full support for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s (NFTA) application to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for funding through the Section 5339(b) Bus and Bus Facilities Program to support their CNG Bus Fleet and Fueling Facility Upgrade project. Through this proposed project, the NFTA will purchase 24 replacement Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses, install two new CNG fueling compressors at their Frontier Bus Fueling Station, and upgrade the electrical system at the station for expanded fueling operations.
The NFTA is at a pivotal moment in the management of its bus fleet. With almost a third of its buses beyond their FTA useful life in both age and miles, and over 40 buses out of service each month for repairs, the NFTA has been forced to dedicate all federal formula funding to preventive maintenance activities. This has put a strain on the overall capital budget and has led to a significant backlog of deferred capital projects across the organization.
This project will allow the NFTA to replace life-expired buses with new CNG models, helping them to reduce their overall average fleet age and achieve their long-range state of good repair goals. In addition, it will allow the NFTA to expand the fueling capacity at their Frontier Bus Garage to accommodate newer CNG buses as older diesel models are replaced from the active bus roster. Together, these bus fleet and facility upgrades will help increase the availability of clean, efficient, and reliable public transportation options for transit-dependent and choice riders across Western New York.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator