NFTA Transporter

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Friday, March 16 - Remember to Thank your Metro Transit Drivers

Metro Driver Mike Mercado
Friday, March 16 is National Driver Appreciation Day, and we need your help in thanking those individuals that get you where you need to go every day - and safely!  

Our Metro drivers served 27 million riders last year which includes over 4,500 bus stops and thousands of trips along the rail line.  That's a lot of service!  

Even though our drivers make the job look easy, maneuvering large vehicles through traffic and inclement weather is tough.  In addition, they maintain tight schedules so that riders get where they need to go on time and safely.  With all that on their "to do" list they deserve some praise, and the best day to do it is one designated for just that!

If you want to recognize your Metro driver(s) you can do it a few ways; something like a nice smile and a wave as you’re boarding your bus or rail car or when you're leaving can go a long way!  You can also post your kind words on social media using #tdad and by tagging @TheNFTA - Facebook, @nftametro - Twitter, @nfta_wny - Instagram, or by calling our Customer Care Center with a commendation at (716) 855-7211.

We hope that you will help us in celebrating the hardworking and dedicated transit drivers that serve our community daily and say thanks especially on March 16. 


Monday, March 12, 2018

800 Steps - A Great Start to a Saturday Morning!

Team Captain Mike Moore in center with NFTA Climbers
including ARFF members on right.
Saturday, March 10, the American Lung Association held its annual Buffalo Air Climb at One Seneca Tower in downtown Buffalo. The event hosted over 500 attendees, many of which were there to climb 36 flights (800 steps) all in support of lung health awareness and cancer research.

There were over 25 teams on site and the NFTA showed up in spades!  They raised over $6,000 and were in the top three group fundraisers.

Now, if that isn't cool enough, four of our 14 climbers also took home awards as follows: Andrew Laforce - 2nd place overall male firefighter (who climbed in full gear), Sean Purtill-3rd Place, male ages 19-29, Patrick Concannon-3rd Place, Male ages 50-59 and Jack Murphy-2nd place, Males ages 60-69. 

Some other highlights - Jessica Dudziak, a former two-time Air Climb award winner, took part as a civilian leaving her 65 pounds of firefighting gear out of the mix but while still carrying a very important bundle, her unborn child.  Brian McDonald, who has been with the NFTA for less than six months was very excited about his participation and rocked it both in fundraising and physically (placing #22 overall).  "It was so great to be a part of this wonderful event and to climb alongside my NFTA colleagues and some of their family members.  I am happy that I was able to support our team, and I look forward to doing it again next year," said Brian. 

Nice job NFTA climbers - what a great achievement! 


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rachel Maloney Is Making Strides in Transit

Congratulations to Rachel Maloney as she has been selected to take the lead on the Amherst Rail Extension environmental study and preliminary engineering efforts as the Project Manager.  Rachel has been a point person for Metro on this project since its inception and has effectively managed numerous consultants while engaging with the public and collaborating with internal and external stakeholders.

Through her six years in the Service Planning Department, Rachel has been a key member on large planning initiatives including the Amherst Rail Extension, DL&W Station and Niagara Street as well as proactively working with the Citizens Advisory Committee and Go Buffalo Moms.  Prior to joining Metro, Rachel spent three years at the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority as the Manager of the Paratransit LIFT Division and then as the Manager of Grants and Planning.

Rachel is also known for her team-player attitude and willingness to support group initiatives outside of her project manager role.  Each year she helps coordinate the NFTA corporate team for the American Lung Association's Buffalo Air Climb and ascends 36 flights of stairs (800 steps) on behalf of her mother who passed away from COPD.  She is also a graduate of APTA's Emerging Leaders Program and continues to remain active within the network.  

Recognizing Barbara Thomas in Women's History

In honor of Women's history month, the NFTA is highlighting Barbara Thomas who is the first woman to hold the role as Metro Station Manager.

Barbara has worked for the NFTA for 35 years. She started as a bus driver and has made significant trailblazing strides since then.  She has held roles including Transportation Supervisor for Frontier Station and Metro Link as well as Operations Manager of Special Services. 

Barbara currently oversees an estimated 168 employees at Metro's Cold Spring Bus Station in Buffalo.  She has been successful at implementing initiatives to help build rapport among drivers, increase operator commendations and dramatically improve overall customer service.  

"Being a bus driver can be very rewarding, but the job has its challenges.  In my role it's important for me to provide our operators with the necessary resources to help make their job easier and support them so that as a team we can continue to provide the best customer service to our riders as possible," says Barbara.

Outside of the station, Barbara remains extremely involved within the community and over the years has served on several boards including the Erie County Office of the disabled for Erie County.  She is an active member in The Linwood Church of Christ and participates in several Christian committees there.  Barbara is also a former Black Achiever Award recipient. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Prior Aviation Hosts Fly-in Career Fair

On February 27, the NFTA and Prior Aviation hosted a Fly-In Career Fair for Maryvale's NAF Academy of Hospitality and Tourism students.  

The Fly-in which was held at one of Prior's hangars at the Buffalo International Airport, provided a unique opportunity for students to engage in one-on-one conversations with representatives from the NFTA, Prior Aviation, Delaware North, JetBlue Airways, the TSA and Enterprise Car Rental.   Throughout the day, the students had the chance to talk in small groups about what type of opportunities are available in the hospitality industry and ask detailed questions specific to each organization that was on hand. 

Maryvale High School is one of two area high schools that offers an intense course of study to qualifying sophomores through seniors that focuses exclusively on the hospitality & tourism industry.  The academy courses are offered in addition to the students’ regular curriculum and is intended to help them make informed decisions on what they may want to pursue in college and possibly their ultimate career.    Mark McNess, who is the Academy lead teacher said, "The students take a plethora of classes that help them define what they want to do in their future.  In addition they are offered great exposure to the wonderful connections that we have in our community like the one we have with the NFTA." 

Approximately 20 students took part in the fly-in and many of them took advantage "flying" one of the few private jets that were located in the hangar.    One of the students, Jamie Kolarch, said, "It was great; I actually got to see it from a point of view when there is nobody on the plane and see what it actually looks like clean and not in use.  What a great experience." 

The day ended with a post-event review and all were on their way - by bus that is!  Thanks to everyone who took part in this, it was very informative for the students and a whole lot of fun!


Friday, March 2, 2018

Lee Weitz appointed the new President of NYAMA

Congratulations to NFTA Deputy Director of Aviation, Lee Weitz, who has been appointed President of the New York Aviation Management Association. NYAMA is the premier aviation organization in New York State and across the country, providing a forum for members to exchange information and ideas and to connect with industry leaders and experts.  

As Deputy Director of Aviation, Lee oversees all maintenance and operations at the Buffalo Niagara and Niagara Falls International Airports, which serves approximately 5 million individuals annually. Lee has led numerous construction projects including BNIA’s inline baggage system replacement project and the TSA security checkpoint improvement project.   He was also a significant contributor to the rehabilitation of Runway 5/23 and 14/31 as well as the economy parking lot expansion projects.

In addition to his responsibilities at the airports, Lee’s knowledge and expertise has also been extremely valuable in unexpected crisis situations.  Lee devoted numerous hours to the Town of Clarence and the families of the Colgan Air Flight 3407 tragedy.   He has also provided critical airport operations assistance during severe weather conditions including the lake effect October Storm of 2006 and November Storm 2014.  Both storms left the City of Buffalo and surrounding areas in a State of Emergency that required a focused closure and clean-up strategy to ensure the safety for anyone traveling to and from Buffalo and the surrounding vicinity.   

Lee’s commitment to the community also continues outside of the airport.  He has served on the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce since 2006 and was the Chairman from 2008-2009.  
He also serves as a mentor for MBA business students at Canisius College.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sock & Glove Drive Rocks

NFTA Exec. Dir Kim Minkel and Officer Dave Zarbo (center)
with representatives from Matt Urban, the Buffalo Zoo,
and Leadership Buffalo
On January 31, the NFTA's Executive Director Kim Minkel announced that it would be hosting a Sock & Glove Drive to benefit the Matt Urban Hope Center and individuals enduring homelessness.

In addition to placing donation bins at all business locations authority-wide, the NFTA worked with some amazing corporate partners which included the following:  The Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo Medical Campus, Leadership Buffalo, Ingram Micro, United Uniforms, Philip D Smith & Associates and the TAPD Teamsters..  

NFTA Transit Officer E. Justinger getting some help
from Dallas, the Seal, at the Buffalo Zoo
NFTA Transit Police Officer Dave Zarbo, who helped manage the drive said: "It was so amazing to see everything that was collected.  Everyday there are people living on the streets in need of new socks and warm gloves.  Most of us never have to worry about something that seems so simple, but people who are homeless do not have this luxury.  I couldn't be more grateful to each and every person who donated to this great cause, and I know that this collection is going to help a lot of people in need." 

The drive concluded on February 14, Valentine's Day - which is recognized as Socks for the Homeless Day in New York State.  The initial goal was to collect approximately 2,000 items to which was well exceeded with an estimated 6,000 pieces. 

Thank you to everyone who supported this great cause -we look forward to doing it again next year! 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Career Fair at Fort Drum

On behalf of the NFTA, John Dembik, Superintendent of Bus Maintenance, attended  the Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program Career Fair on February 1 at the Mountain Warfare Simulation Complex in Fort Drum.  There were approximately 80 vendors which included a vast array of employers, vocational trade schools and colleges.   

In attendance was a variety of military personnel seeking employment or career direction, and many stopped by the NFTA table to ask about job opportunities and public transportation in general.  Some inquired about apprenticeships and internships that may be in  place also.
While there, John conducted a facebook live video which included information about NFTA Metro job opportunities and company benefits.  In addition, many event placement counselors and transition readiness liaisons stopped by the table and asked about recruitment packages and videos. It was a great networking event as well as another opportunity to spread the word about the jobs the NFTA has to offer. 

The event proved to be a great success and follow-up will be conducted by representatives from the NFTA within the next few weeks.

NFTA Headquarters Opens New Mailroom

Patrick and Louis - Central Services
The NFTA has opened a brand new mailroom on the first floor at its downtown headquarters at 181 Ellicott Street.  The street level location will allow for easier accessibility for delivery agents as well as by all employees compared to that of the former location on the sixth floor.  The new contemporary mail center includes a compact centralized sorting system and new postage equipment that will help increase the speed in weighing and sorting mail and packages. 

Central Services employees, Patrick Reulbach and Louis Manolis, are looking forward to working within the center's efficient design that will help provide a more professional and enhanced quality of service.  And, who can resist the smiling faces you will see at the new delivery window.  The mailroom will be open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Welcome Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald has officially joined the NFTA's HSEQ division as an Environmental Engineer.  Brian’s role will focus around environmental compliance for all NFTA locations as well as related special projects.

Prior to coming to the NFTA, he worked as Project Manager for Environmental Resources Management in Rochester for seven years. Brian holds a Bachelor’s degree at Canisius College with a major in Environmental Science, and a minor in Political Science.

During his free time, he enjoys numerous outdoor sports.  He likes taking long treks on his bike, hiking through the Adirondacks, and skiing at Bristol Mountain Resort.  Brian is also looking forward to participating in the Buffalo Air Climb as part of the NFTA corporate team.  The event is hosted by the American Lung Association and includes a 35 flight (800 step) stairwell climb at the Seneca Tower building in downtown Buffalo on March 10.

If you haven't already, please give Brian a warm welcome - he is located at the downtown NFTA headquarter offices.  

Celebrating Black History Month

The NFTA is celebrating Black History Month which is an annual recognition of achievements by African Americans and the central role that blacks have played in all industries in the U.S. including transportation. 

Some notable African American contributors in transit include Harriet Tubman for her involvement in the Underground Railroad, and Granville Woods, an electrical genius, for his numerous advances in transit operations.  In addition, Garret Augustus Morgan created the first stop-and-go rotating lighted traffic signal, and Rosa Parks gained national attention in 1955 when she refused to give up her public transit seat for a white passenger, to name a few. 

As part of this recognition, we would just like to take this opportunity to thank the many dedicated African American professionals who have worked at NFTA Metro over the years, and for those whom continue to make extraordinary strides within our transit industry today.  


Grab and Go Newstand Doing Well

In fall of last year the NFTA's downtown bus terminal, located at 181 Ellicott Street, received a new tenant - a Grab & Go Newsstand that features fresh food items and other snacks as well as convenience merchandise for travelers.  The store is owned operated by Amhed Adhadhari and is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Business has been good and Amhed indicated he is very pleased.  "The Grab and Go has been doing well since we opened.  The downtown terminal hosts a lot of individuals using Metro or Greyhound services, and it can be very busy at times.  Having an option for individuals to shop for items quickly and easily while traveling through the bus station has seemed to make a lot of people happy, whether they are short term visitors or returning customers," says Ahmed.

In the future Ahmed is also going to be opening another Grab & Go at the NFTA Metro's renovated Main and Allen Rail Station near the base of the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Hector Lozada - Recognized in NFTA Safety Pit Crew Campaign

Great news -  another NFTA employee, Hector Lozada, is being recognized in the NFTA's Safety Pit Crew Campaign.  This initiative highlights employees who go the extra mile every day: those who religiously follow sound safety practices, take pride in their work, and who exemplify the values of the NFTA.

Hector has been in the Facilities division at the NFTA for ten years and has no plans on leaving.  He started his career at the Niagara Falls Transportation Center and now works at the downtown bus terminal - MTC.  He says, “I love my job and the people here.  It’s a very rewarding place to work, and I look forward to many more years ahead.”

Outside of work, Hector is an active member of his church and has been part of the choir for 32 years.   Originally from Puerto Rico, Hector indicated that he enjoys living in this great city, but admits that the snow can be very difficult at times (which is ironic because of his big smile in the "snow poster").   When time permits Hector enjoys going on family vacations with his wife, daughter, and stepson.

Please help in congratulating Hector on a job well done!

NFTA Sponsors its first annual Sock & Glove Drive

Matt Urban Exec. Dir.
Marlies Wesolowski at Podium
A media event was held on January 31 at NFTA headquarters to kick-off its first annual Sock and Glove Drive to benefit individuals of homelessness through the Matt Urban Hope Center. Additional partners include the Buffalo Zoo and the Buffalo Medical Campus. The drive will run through February 14, and all items donated will be distributed by the Matt Urban Hope Center.

“We can’t stress enough how important these types of events are to the Homeless,” said Marlies Wesolowski, Executive Director of the Matt Urban Center. “I wish to thank the NFTA, the Buffalo Zoo and the Buffalo Medical Campus for their wonderful support, it will truly make a major difference in our community.”
NFTA Exec. Dir  Kim Minkel (left) and
Offcr. Dave Zarbo (center) with reps
from Matt Urban, BNMC and the Zoo
NFTA's Transit Police Officer Dave Zarbo has been a catalyst to moving this initiative forward. "It's something that many of us take for granted as we usually do not have to worry if we will have a clean pair of socks or something to keep our hands warm. Over the years, I have encountered numerous  homeless individuals who have experienced illnesses and shame because they cannot obtain these simple but extremely important items. Having all of these entities partner together to help those in need in our community is truly amazing."
Each year, it’s estimated that between 2.5 million and 3.5 million Americans sleep in shelters,  transitional housing and public places not meant for human habitation, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.
The Sock and Glove Drive drop off locations are as follows:
    • Matt Urban Hope Center, 385 Paderewski Drive
    • Buffalo Zoo Main Gate Entrance, 300 Parkside
    • Buffalo Medical Campus - Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott Street
    • NFTA Transit Police, MTC 181 Ellicott Street or 1404 Main Street
    • NFTA Buffalo Airport Air Rescue and Firefighting Facility (Firehouse),
      120 Amherst Villa Rd. - Cheek.
We are grateful to anyone who can help!  Please follow us on Facebook and twitter for updates!  

Welcome Boukou (Gina) Karchofsky

Boukou Karchofsky, who goes by Gina, is a new member of the NFTA’s Internal Audit department. In her new role she will perform various functions of internal and external auditing as well as working on related special projects. Before joining the NFTA team, Gina worked for Dresher & Malecki CPAs.

Gina holds a Bachelor’s of Science in International Business with a minor in Accounting from Niagara University, and a Master's of Business with a concentration in Accounting from Niagara University.

Gina resides in Williamsville with her son.    In the summer months she enjoys gardening and being outside and taking  special trips to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Niagara Falls with her son when time permits. Along with her many other talents,  Gina is also fluent in French and teaches accounting courses at Bryant & Stratton College.

Please help in welcoming Gina.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

NFTA TAPD K9 Teams are Superbowl LII Bound

NFTA TAPD K9 Teams Offcr. Dave Capretto and King and
Offcr. Andre Taibbi and Holly
Two NFTA TAPD K9 teams have been selected to help with security at Superbowl LII.   Officer Dave Capretto and his partner King along with Officer Andre Taibbi and Holly will be leaving for Minneapolis late January for a ten day trip.  They will be assisting with explosive detection and overall stadium security prior to and during the big game on February 4.

Our NFTA TAPD officers are among 80 police handler and dog units selected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and whom have been deputized and granted full arrest power by the United States Marshalls and the City of Minneapolis.   These officers and their K9 partners will patrol parking lots, spectator stands, sidelines and numerous areas within the vicinity of U.S. Bank Stadium including parking lots and vehicles. 
"K9 teams really are the most successful tool in detecting explosives.  With any large-scale special event these days, there is a potential for some sort of nefarious activity.  Although our teams are extremely well-trained, they have been also undergoing an event-specific security orientation to help protect everyone involved in this highly-visible national event." said Chief George Gast, NFTA's Police Chief. 
This is the third time that NFTA TAPD officers have been asked to help patrol during a superbowl, and we couldn't be more proud.  Maybe next year we will also be able to cheer on own home team, the Buffalo Bills!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gary Bennett promoted to Metro's Business Manager

Gary Bennett has been promoted to the position of Business Development Manager for Metro.  Gary’s new role will include managing all of Metro’s College Riders Accessing Metro (CRAM) program while maintaining responsibility for the Buffalo Board of Education contract.   

Gary will also now be responsible for the Corporate Pass program, reintroduction of the Metro Extras program, development of corporate relations including route and pass development as well as community outreach associated with ridership programs and incentives. 

This new role will allow Gary to continue to provide incredible value to the organization while positioning Metro for ridership growth.  Prior to this Gary held the role of Metro's Senior Transportation Planner.

Please help in congratulating Gary on his  new position.


Metro Cold Spring Operators recognized for heroism

Operator Herrera (far L) and Operator Blackman (2nd from R)
pictured with Tom George, members of the TAPD team,
and Chief George Gast (far R)
On December 12, two of Metro's Cold Spring operators were recognized by the NFTA Transit Police Chief George Gast along with Metro's Public Transit Director Tom George for going above and beyond the call of duty.   

Metro Operator Hector Herrera was working the Utica line on October 30 when he noticed a small child along the road.  Operator Derrick Blackman had a similar incident on November 16, when he too noticed a small child with very little clothing near the road during his work run. Both operators contacted transit police during these situations and kept the children safe until they arrived.  Both toddlers were unharmed and faired extremely well due to the quick action of these operators.

The commendation from NFTA TAPD recognizes the ability to act effectively in a serious and possible life-threatening situation.  Thank you Mr. Herrera
and Mr. Blackman for your compassion and quick-thinking!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Welcome Arlene Sebastian

NFTA welcomes Arlene Sebastian as our new Procurement Compliance Specialist.  This is a new role to NFTA, and her  responsibilities will include running our Minority and Women Owned Business enterprise and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business programs.

Prior to coming to NFTA Arlene worked at Sumitomo (formerly Dunlop) Rubber, and before this she was employed at ArcelorMittal (formerly Bethlehem Steel).  She has a variety of experience working in Accounting, Purchasing and HR.   In addition, she also owned and operated a gift shop for several years and was active within the North Buffalo Business Association during that time.

Arlene has a Bachelors of Management from Houghton College and a Business Degree from Villa Maria College.  In her spare time, she volunteers and helps with local fundraisers such as Carly's Club for Roswell, Make A Wish and the Food Bank of WNY. 

Arlene resides in the southtowns and in the summer enjoying beach-going, jet skiing, camping, motorcycling, and outdoor concerts.  In winter months she is also a fan of snowmobiling.

Please help in welcoming Arlene to NFTA.   

Christine Farrow, Appointed Board Vice President for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Christine Farrow, NFTA's Manager of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) & Diversity Development, has again been shaking things up!   Christine has been named Vice President of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County.  She has been involved with BBBS since the age of seven where she was a "little" (sister), and as a result of the experience went onto volunteer and give back to the organization and those in need.  

Throughout her early years with BBBS, Christine used public transportation often.  Much of her experiences and professional growth were influenced by her ability to get around the city without a person vehicle.  So, ironically as she walks into her office every day at the NFTA -- it feels like home.

Christine began her career with the authority in 2007 and has held roles as Superintendent, Special Services and Manager of Employee Assistance.   While at NFTA she has participated in several leadership trainings such as Eno Center for Transportation-Mid Manager Training and is currently participating in New York Public Transit Leadership Institute (PTLI) which gives her a firsthand look and hands on experience in the role of a transit agency executive. Further, Christine serves as one of the Authority’s Racial Equity Coaches and is spearheading the Authority’s first-ever Strategic Diversity Plan.

She also teaches classes at the University at Buffalo, Graduate School of Education and is a member of the Rehabilitation Counseling Program Advisory committee where she assists with the accreditation process of various counseling related programs.  Christine is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and truly embodies their motto of “Service to All Mankind.”

Christine continues to be a champion for diversity and is heavily involved in related initiatives  throughout the community.  The Pegula Foundation, Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres recently recognized Christine for her dedication to WNY as she was the November 2017 recipient of the One Buffalo Award.  

Please help in congratulating Christine on these great accomplishments; she may have started out as a little sister but look at her now.  If she keeps up like this, she is going to need her own newsletter one day!



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

TAPD brings joy to families of BBBS

NFTA TAPD Officers shopping for gifts

During the months of November and December, NFTA's Transit Police Department sponsored a  No-Shave campaign to support the families of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County.  All money raised was used to purchase gifts for four families who were selected by BBBS.  The officers also received  donations from NFTA and Metro employees.

The NFTA TAPD successfully collected over $3,500 and sent their team of elves out to purchase items from Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us.  All of the gifts were wrapped and presented to the families on Dec. 22 at their homes.

Family of BBBS

Big Brothers Big Sisters is the largest provider of youth mentoring services in the United States. In Erie County, they have been matching caring adults with local children for more than 40 years and have impacted the lives of over 9,500 youth.

This is the third year that the NFTA TAPD worked with BBBS in this special holiday partnership.    Thank you to everyone who was involved with this great cause!  

Monday, January 8, 2018

Go Bills!

January 5, 2018

How awesome ... the Buffalo Bills made the NFL playoffs!  The Bills will be taking on the Jacksonville Jacquars in the wildcard game on Sunday, Jan 7.

Exec Dir. Kim Minkel with
members of NFTA's legal team

As you can imagine there is excitement and anticipation throughout the Queen City.  At NFTA Metro we are no different.  Employees got together this week to show support for our home team by donning their best Bills blue and red.  It's an exciting weekend of football ahead - let's hope we can come out with a victory and continue on the journey to Superbowl 52. 
Gooooo Bills!