NFTA Transporter

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Metro Community Night at the Ballpark

NFTA-Metro held its annual Community Night on the plaza at Coca-Cola Field on June 26, before the Buffalo Bisons took the 3-1 win against the Pawtucket Red Sox.


TAPD Officer Dave Capretto and King
and NFTA Executive Director  Kim Minkel
NFTA Metro staff were on hand at the main entrance an hour before the game greeting game-goers with give-a-ways. As part of this outreach event, Metro had one of its full size 40-foot buses on site which operates on compressed natural gas. The “green” CNG vehicles are more environment-friendly helping to decrease fuel costs and greatly reducing overall emission levels. In addition, Metro showcased its latest Paratransit vehicle which is one of its first front wheel drive low-floor vans providing more user-friendly service for the disabled community.

Transit Authority Police K-9 Officers were on-site with two of the department’s amazing service dogs, including Officer Dave Capretto and his K9, King. The TAPD also displayed its fully-functional “retro” Dodge Diplomat police car which is an exact replica of the original vehicle used in 1985.

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA Executive Director said, “This annual event presents a great opportunity to thank our many riders for their loyalty as well as talk with potential customers about an additional transportation option for the emerging multimodal riding community.”

This program is part of an overall customer appreciation initiative to thank customers for being loyal riders of the Metro system and to help make others aware of Metro services.

See you all again next year!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Bill Major Celebrates One Year as the Chief of ARFF

Chief Bill Major is celebrating his one-year anniversary as the head of the Airport Rescue Fire Fighting team. Chief Major has been a part of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority since 2008, when he began his service as an Airport Rescue firefighter and member of the 3rd Platoon under the direction of Captain Hal Hathaway. Since then, the chief has climbed the rankings, holding positions as Lieutenant and Assistant Chief, which prepared him for his current role.

Chief Major is an integral part of the NFTA and has done an amazing job in assisting with overall safety and adjunct operations at the Buffalo and Niagara Falls airports.  He has also played a major  part in the development of ARFF's new state-of-the-art firehouse.  However, in addition to overseeing all operations at the firehouse and managing his firefighting team, he also goes above and beyond to support his community on an every day basis.  This is a characteristic he hopes he has passed down to his assistant chiefs and firefighters.  As a matter of fact one of his favorite things about his job is seeing members of his team “go the extra mile” and taking genuine interest in the well-being of those that they are serving.

However, the Chief himself, a humble man, should also be celebrated for his countless "miles" of heroic service.  Among his many honorable moments stands a time in which the chief was called into help a man suffering cardiac arrest at the Buffalo Airport.  In addition to helping save his life, he continued to follow the man and his family through care proceeding the attack to ensure his recovery was going smoothly.  This kind of selflessness is what has made the chief such a well-respected role-model within the NFTA and to those that know him in the community.
Photo taken by Chief Bill Major.

Outside of the firehouse, the Chief enjoys spending time with his four daughters and three grandkids. He loves travelling and visiting local parks and scenic areas to feed his passion for photography.

“I’ve seen a lot of things, been exposed to a lot, and that’s part of the reason that I love photography - to kind of reset. But I truly have a passion for my profession and helping people… being a firefighter is the greatest job in the world, and I wouldn't trade it for anything,” said Chief Major.

Congratulations Chief on your anniversary - thanks for doing what you do! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

NFTA HSEQ tips save Jeff Lesanti and his family from disaster

The NFTA HSEQ team regularly provides safety tips to employees and although they contain important information, it is always their hope that no one will need to worry about dangerous circumstances.

However, Jeff Lesanti, found the information provided in May on "Grilling Safety" came in extremely handy during a recent situation at his home.  Jeff has owned his grill for about three years and in getting ready for summer barbecuing he checked the tank hose and related equipment prior to use.   When he did, he could smell gas, heard a hissing noise and subsequently found a leak in the tank.  Upon realizing there was a serious problem, he referred to the grilling safety tips and proceeded with caution to address the situation.  Since he is handy, he was able to properly replace the gas line himself. 

The grill is located underneath a patio off of his house, and if the grill would have caught fire it could have spread throughout his entire house and quickly. He has two children under the age of four, and he was extremely grateful to catch this leak before anything serious could have occurred. Jeff generally uses his grill two to three times per week to cook for his family and friends, so by checking things out prior to seasonal use, he saved himself and his family a whole lot of trouble.

Now, Jeff is ready to get back to safely grilling his burgers, hot dogs and his specialty - shish kebabs!

Friday, June 15, 2018

On the Run


Another great finish for the NFTA at the 38th annual JP Morgan Corporate Challenge. The NFTA, GBNRTC, and NITTEC fielded a team of 31 athletes, posting some very respectable times.

14,145 runners and walkers (a record number), from 391 companies, took part in the race. The course leads from Delaware Park to Gates Circle and back. Part of the proceeds go to the Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy.
Special thanks go to Michael Moore, pictured above, who once again captained our team and organized our part in the event, along with assistance from Tom Kingston, Max Thayer, and the Transit Police Department. A fun time was had under beautiful blue skies in Delaware Park, and once again Jeffrey Sweet showed off his grilling skills.

Corey Hacker in the PR Dept. was behind the design for the this year's shirt and banner inspired by the event being held on Flag Day.




Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Alyssa Mancinelli becomes Metro's newest Customer Service Associate

Alyssa Mancinelli is the new face in the customer service center located in the bus terminal at the NFTA headquarters in downtown Buffalo.

Prior to this position, she worked as a Metro bus Operator for the past four years out of Frontier Garage.  Although she loved driving for the company, having the opportunity to work as an agent was very appealing to her.  In her new role she will be assisting customers with their Metro travel needs including reduced fare and PAL.  

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and her three year old son James. In the fall she plans on going back to school to finish her degree in business.

Good luck in your new position Alyssa.

Welcome Nadine Chalmers as the NFTA's new Transportation Planner

Nadine Chalmers has just joined the NFTA as a new Transportation Planner.  She comes to us from the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) where she served in the role of project manager for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects, including integration with transit.

Prior to working for NYCDOT, she was employed as an active living planner with Hennepin County in Minnesota, where she worked on station area planning and public engagement for their light rail expansion efforts in the Minneapolis area. She will have an active role in many of our current and future planning initiatives, including community outreach and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC).

She holds a dual Master’s in Urban Planning and Public Health from the University of Minnesota and was the recipient of the Women in Transportation Scholarship. Prior to enrolling in graduate school, she received a bachelor of arts and sciences in biomedical sciences and history from McGill University in Montreal. She brings with her a new perspective and passion for alternative modes of transportation along with a diverse background in community outreach into the fold.

Welcome Nadine!

NFTA Metro participates in Annual Developmental Disability Awareness Day

The 30th Annual Developmental Disability Awareness Day was held on May 24 at the Niagara Falls Conference Center. NFTA Metro, along with many area organizations who provide service to people with disabilities were on hand to share information about services, and celebrate inclusion and diversity. 

The Developmental Disability Awareness Day conference is the largest event of its kind in the U.S. It recognizes the achievements of people with disabilities and others who are making a positive impact toward accessibility and inclusiveness. Awards for personal achievement, direct service provider of the year, community service of the year and caregiver of the year are presented at the convention’s luncheon. Awards are also presented to professionals, organizations and individuals with developmental disabilities. The festivities include an art show featuring artwork from local artists with disabilities, various workshops and entertainment.

Patricia Wiseman, Superintendent of Special Services, Christopher Antholzner, Senior Operations Manager and Vivian Rodgers, ADA/EEO Administrator, were on hand to share information with individuals about Metro’s Paratransit Access Line and its fully accessible bus and rail system. There were over 100 vendors and 1,200 attendees at this year's event.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Congratulations to Louis Giardina, NPELRA President's Award Winner 2018

Lou Giardina tabled any negotiations in April while attending the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association Annual Conference held in Charleston, South Carolina.

This year's 2018 NPELRA President's Award of Excellence was given to none other than our own Louis Giardina.

The prestigious award is given to the individual who exemplifies dedication and achievement in the development of positive labor management relations. It signifies their professional efforts, which have demonstrated creative and innovative leadership.

Lou has served as Labor Relations Manager at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority since 2006.

He has had quite a distinguished career serving as NYSPELRA President twice from 2007-09 and again in 2011-12. Currently, he is a Board Member-At-Large at NYSPELRA.

Lou was also awarded the 2013 Holcomb Award. This award is presented to those NYSPELRA members demonstrating exceptional achievement on behalf of the public employers and citizens of New York in the field of Labor Relations.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Congratulations to William R. Vanecek, Inductee of the Niagara Frontier Aviation and Space Hall of Fame



William R. Vanecek, Director of Aviation for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, was flying high on Friday night at the 33rd Annual Dinner and Induction of the Aviation and Space Hall of Fame Ceremony as one of the inductees for this year.

May 11, was the annual ceremony recognizing individuals who have made a significant contribution to aviation and aerospace on the Niagara Frontier since its beginning in 1985.

Mr. William R. Vanecek, also known as Bill, is responsible for the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and the Niagara Falls International Airport.

Since his start in 1998, Mr. Vanecek has implemented and completed the FAA Noise Study for homes and businesses surrounding the BNIA that provided noise mitigation improvements to more than 1,400 properties to improve the quality of life within the airport community.

He also oversaw three major expansions of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Those expansions included a two-gate expansion in 1997, a seven-gate expansion in 2000, and a terminal expansion project for passengers and baggage in 2007. At this same time, he extended both runways at BNIA to the maximum length possible to accommodate both long haul domestic and international flights.

The BNIA expanded air carriers such as JetBlue Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which began service in 2002.

Besides the improvements at the BNIA, Bill orchestrated construction of a new passenger terminal at the NFIA. Additional improvements at the Niagara Falls International Airport were made to enhance viability of attracting commercial air service to Niagara Falls. The airport also saw the extension of the main and crosswind runways to the maximum length accommodating the needs of the USAF 914th Reserve station and for long haul international and domestic commercial flights.

Bill recruited Direct Air to serve Niagara Falls in 2007, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Airlines were added and began operations in 2011.

During his tenure, more than $90 million of capital investments have occurred at the BNIA.

To say his career has “really taken flight” is an understatement. During Bill’s tenure the annual economic impact for Western New York resulted with the successes from both airports totaling more than $1.1 billion annually.

Among Bill’s other accomplishments: Served as President of the New York Aviation Management Association from 2006 to 2008. Bill was also awarded ‘Visit Buffalo Niagara’ Beacon Award for Tourism Executive of the year in 2013.

He has served as Chairman of Airports Council International North America (2016 – 2017).

Also inducted that evening were the following individuals:

Dr. Michael G. Dunn, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (CAL) Calspan

Harry A. Ferullo, Bell Aircraft/Bell Aerospace Company

Dr. H. Robert Leland, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (CAL) Calspan (Deceased 2002)

Mel Ryder, Moog, Inc.

John A. Spina, Eastman Kodak Company

Friday, May 18, 2018

TAPD Officer David Zarbo honored at Erie County Law Enforcement Awards Dinner

Officer David Zarbo pictured with Kathy Chubb and
Samuel Palmiere, E.C. Law Enforcement Foundation Board Members
The Annual Erie County Law Enforcement Awards Dinner was held at Salvatore's Italian Gardens on Thursday, May 17, during National Police Week.

The awards dinner honors law enforcement professionals and citizens who have contributed to their communities in support of the criminal justice system.   All funds raised for the foundation will assist local police in efforts to decrease crime in their communities by providing training, equipment and other resources. The event hosted 300 attendees and honored 10 award winners.

This year, Officer David Zarbo of the NFTA’s Transit Police Department was recognized for his collaboration with the Matt Urban Hope Center and Crisis Services in assisting homeless individuals as well as people in crisis.

Officer Zarbo was also commended for his initiative in running an NFTA sponsored Sock and Glove Drive to benefit individuals suffering from homelessness.  Through the drive, which was held in February of this year, 6,000 pairs of gloves and socks were collected.  Bridgedale Outdoor Limited, which is a Canadian global leader in the manufacture of socks, also recently donated an additional 3,000 pairs of socks after hearing about the drive and wanted to help.

“I am so honored to receive this award. I am grateful to our Chief of Police George Gast, our Executive Director Kim Minkel as well as my fellow colleagues for their extraordinary support in my efforts to help those in need.   In relation to the drive, socks and gloves are often the most needed and requested items at homeless shelters in Western New York yet they are among the least donated. I am so appreciative to all of the organizations and individuals who came together and donated to this great cause. The 9,000 items are going to help a great deal of people in need in our local community,” said Officer Zarbo.

 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

NFTA Metro launches seasonal trolley service in Niagara Falls

City of NF - Anthony Vilardo, Tom George, Frank Strangio,
NYS Senator Robert Ortt and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello 
On May 17, the NFTA, in conjunction with the City of Niagara Falls and the Niagara Falls Hotel Association hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to symbolically launch Metro's season "tourist-friendly" Trolley service that will begin, coincidentally, on Green Your Commute Day, Friday, May 18.

"I am once again very excited for the kickoff of one of the most successful and popular tourism related projects in the City of Niagara Falls. I am honored to have been a part of the creation of this service over a decade ago as well as involved in its continued growth. The success of this service could not be accomplished without the help of the fantastic tourism professionals in our local hotels and industry, the great leaders we have in the City of Niagara Falls, and the phenomenal service provided by everyone at the NFTA," said Frank Strangio, President of the Niagara Falls Hotel Association.

"Metro's trolley service provides an opportunity for tourists here in Niagara Falls to travel easily from their hotel to venues and attractions throughout the city. When using their trolley day passes, riders also have access to the entire Metro system which provides added value within the community and throughout the region. We appreciate all of the partners that have come together to make this service happen, and we are excited to launch our service for this year," said Tom George, the NFTA's Public Transit Director.

Metro's trolley buses will operate from 9 a.m. to midnight and will serve hotels and motels along Niagara Falls Boulevard, Pine Avenue, Niagara Falls International Airport and downtown Niagara Falls USA. Patrons receive their free trolley day passes upon request at participating hotels and motels. The trolley pass, supported by the local Niagara Falls bed tax, allows pass holders free access to the trolleys and the entire Metro Bus and Rail system in Niagara and Erie Counties. The 2018 trolley schedule and service map is available at nfta.com.

TAPD's Honor Guard attend Police Week Events

St. Joseph's Cathedral - TAPD Officers (L-R) A. Danderski,
S. Dalton,  T. Franco, and J. Glodowski

During the week of May 14-20, deemed National Police Week, Police Departments across the country took part in specially organized ceremonies to honor fallen officers.

The week-long tribute was established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962 to recognize United States law enforcement officers whom have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.

NYS Troop A Memorial - TAPD Officers A. Danderski,
E. Justinger, J. Messina and J. Glodowski

The NFTA Transit Police Honor Guard participated in two memorial services within Erie County, one at St. Joseph's Cathedral in downtown Buffalo as well as the NYS Police Troop A Memorial in Batavia.

Both masses honored officers from various law enforcement units, which included Officer Craig E. Lehner who drowned while conducting a training dive in the Niagara River last October.

These ceremonies provided opportunities for officers to pay respect to those who have died serving their communities and of whom will always be remembered for their devoted service.

“In honor of National Police Week members of the Department’s Honor Guard Unit attended services to remember those that we have lost. We stand together with our brothers and sisters from the law enforcement community to support the families, friends and colleagues of our fallen heroes," said the NFTA's Transit Police Chief George Gast.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Metro participates in 4th Annual Niagara Falls Hospitality Event

NFTA Metro Staff
Members of NFTA Metro participated in Destination Niagara USA's 4th Annual Day of Appreciation which honored more than 700 employees from the local hospitality and tourism industry.

The event, which was held at the Niagara Falls Conference Center, hosted over 25 vendors showcasing various things to do within the City of Niagara Falls.    In addition to lots of conversation and networking, attendees also had the opportunity to enjoy a catered lunch, get ice cream from an "old fashioned" styled cart, and pose for photos.
 
Metro's Gary Bennett talking with attendees 
John Percy from Destination Niagara said, "The event is a great way to show appreciation for all the individuals working in the hospitality and tourism industry across Niagara County. This event is at no cost to attendees and is simply an afternoon for all employees in the industry to get together, have fun, enjoy great food and have an opportunity to win prizes."
 
NFTA Metro representatives were on site to introduce information about Metro's Niagara Falls Trolley service which will operate from May 18 through October 28.  The trolleys serve guests at participating hotels in downtown Niagara Falls, along Niagara Falls Blvd, Pine Ave. and the Niagara Falls International Airport.  
 
"Today's event offered a great opportunity to talk with various members from the Niagara Falls hospitality industry about what Metro has to offer and obtain valuable feedback from those using our services.  We have been attending this event for the past few years and find it extremely beneficial and a whole lot of fun.," said Gary Bennett. 
 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Bridgedale partners with NFTA Transit Police and donates 3,000 Pairs of Socks

Bridgedale Outdoor Ltd. a global market leader in the manufacture of performance socks in Ontario Canada, has donated 3,000 pairs of socks to the Niagara Frontier Transit Police Department after hearing about the sock and glove drive that was organized earlier this year by Officer David Zarbo.

“This donation is going to make a tremendous difference in the Western New York Community,” said Officer Zarbo. “We are so thankful to Bridgedale for stepping up to help make a difference for the men, women and children in our area who are struggling to stay warm and dry in our challenging climate.”

Officer Zarbo interacts with the homeless community in Buffalo on a daily basis and can see how they are struggling with wet socks and shoes. In 2017, he took it upon himself to do something that would enhance their lives by organizing a sock and glove drive. The drive which was held for two weeks in February and involved numerous community partners was a great success bringing in over 6,000 sets of items. However, the need for socks never ends, so he is continuing the program with other interested donating parties. The Bridgedale socks will be distributed via the Matt Urban Hope Center, a non-profit organization that provides housing and programs to those in need in Western New York and whom has a hub located in the downtown bus terminal.

“The Matt Urban Hope Center is eternally thankful to both the NFTA and Bridgedale for coordinating this massive donation. We look forward to making sure we spread this gift out to all our partners in Western New York who are working tirelessly to end homelessness, one pair of socks at a time,” said Dan Auflick, Matt Urban Hope Center’s Director. “Our North American warehouse is located in the Buffalo area so it just makes sense for us to contribute to the community in a way that is meaningful,” said Anna Nikolaus, marketing manager at Bridgedale. “When we heard about Officer Zarbo’s drive, we wanted to be a part of this community effort to help those in need and to help fuel this program.”

Congratulations Officer Zarbo for your perseverance in this much-needed and extraordinary effort!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Reddy Bikeshare Expands to NFTA-Metro's LaSalle Rail Station

James Morrell with Jennifer White
and biking enthusiast 
On a glorious sunny morning in Buffalo, Reddy Bikeshare, in conjunction with Independent Health, unveiled its newest bike hub that is located right outside of NFTA Metro's LaSalle Rail Station and at the Southern Terminus of the region's first urban rail trail.

Reddy Bikeshare is a Buffalo-based non profit organization that works with other organizations to advance innovative transportation services that focus on shared mobility.  Using cutting-edge technology and best practices, shared mobility systems serve smaller and sometimes more challenging markets.  In these areas, having easy bike availability is often a great option for public transit users and individuals looking for other alternative and clean-air options of travel. 

"For National Bike Month this year, we want to make it as simple and affordable as possible for people interested in becoming more involved in biking, and to try out a Reddy Bike," said Jennifer White, Marketing and Communications Executive for Reddy Bikeshare.  "For only $1, members can have access to all 200 bikes, 24/7 for 30 days, and at the end of that rail period, they will have an opportunity to upgrade to an annual membership."
Bike Trail

With this new location, Reddy Bikeshare riders can easily hop off the Metro Rail and onto a Reddy Bike for a car-free cruise along the recently completed 5-mile North Buffalo and Tonawanda Rail Trail, which is supported by the University Heights Collaborative as well the Business Association.  This new hub is Reddybike's 39th station in the City of Buffalo. 

"We are excited and pleased to have the new Reddy Bike hub located adjacent to Metro Rail's LaSalle Station.  Enhanced connectivity between our bus and rail network and bikesharing offers a cost-effective and sustainable strategy to bolster public transit usage and get more individuals biking in our community."   

Reddy Bike also has a station located outside of the NFTA headquarters at 181 Ellicott Street in downtown Buffalo.




Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Snow Plow Cowboys Battle It Out at BNIA

Chris McBride, 2nd Place
During the week of April 16, in conjunction with the Northeast Chapter of American Association of Airport Executives, the NFTA hosted the 52nd Annual Aviation Snow Symposium, which featured a snow plow rodeo.   The exciting community-friendly event was held in a parking area adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. 

The symposium hosts hundreds of representatives from all around the world, even as far away as Norway, and provides a great opportunity for qualified plow drivers to show off their operational skills on a specifically-designed obstacle course for the honor of being named the World's Best Snow Plow Driver in the World.

During the rodeo, the competitors were judged by how well they prepared their ride for the challenging course and how impressive their operating skills were in front of the panel of judges  while time was click-clicking away.  It was all about being able to control their vehicle under pressure and remaining "cool in the saddle," almost like a real cowboy. 

"This symposium is such a great annual event.  Representatives from all around the country have the opportunity to come together and learn more about vehicle plow operations, safety practices, and how to prepare for inclement weather and effectively execute snow removal plans.  It truly is a great opportunity for everyone involved to exchange information and further enhance our snow-navigation skills, so that we can continue to serve our individual aviation communities in the best way possible," said Joe Guarino, NFTA's Airfield Superintendent and Chairman of the Snow Symposium.

The winner of this year's rodeo was James Scripture from Bangor, Maine (second place in 2017) and the NFTA's own Chris McBride came in second place (first in 2017).  It was a very close race; the difference between these two drivers was only 1.5 seconds.  The third-place winner was from Alaska.   All of the 30 snow plow competitors were required to have a valid CDL license with a minimum A or B endorsement and have a minimum of four years of airfield snow removal operations.

Congratulations to our own Chris McBride for a job well done!  Save the date - next year's rodeo is scheduled for May 1, 2019. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

NFTA Metro supports 3rd Annual Earth Day Clean Up in Tonawanda

Clean-Up Volunteers
NFTA Metro was proud to be a sponsor of the 3rd Annual Town of Tonawanda's Earth Day Clean up on Saturday, April 21 at Lincoln Park.

Over 200 volunteers came out on the sunny 65 degree day to help clean up the areas surrounding the 3.9 Rails to Trails path.  New this year, volunteers planted 750 seedlings at the Brighton and Sheridan Golf courses. 

"Our tree community suffered a great loss in the October 2006 snow storm and we are experiencing a lost of the Ash tree population due to Emerald Ash borer infestation.   The planting of native deciduous and coniferous tree seedlings helps accelerate our reforestation efforts. Plus, it's easy to do, fun and rewarding.," said Jim Jones, Town of Tonawanda Engineer.

Also, each planting volunteer received a special NFTA Metro logo'd spade or hand rake to help make their job easier.  The clean up was followed with refreshments and special gifts for the children.

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated in the United States in support of environmental protection and related initiatives.  

Metro's Railcars Continue to be Rebuilt

Refurbished Railcar
Exciting news - the last of 27 of Metro's rail cars has shipped out to Hitachi Rail U.S.A, in Dansville, N.Y for its complete overhaul. 

This process is part of the NFTA Metro's Railcar Rebuild Program which began in 2006.   This rehabilitation program provides the necessary actions to rebuild, refurbish and replace nearly 90% of the equipment and components that make up our railcar fleet. 

"Each car has been completely gutted to a shell and the entire unit refurbished which includes new framing, flooring and various mechanical and safety improvements.   This overhaul process will help maintain our Metro railcar vehicles in a state of good repair, improve reliability, ensure operations and maximize the useful life of the cars.  We are about two-thirds through the process with the last refurbished railcar expected to be in service in late summer of next year." said Kevin Rogers, NFTA Metro's Manager of Rail Operations.   

Currently there are 19 of the refurbished cars in service on the Metro rail system and the remaining eight are in various stages of rebuild, which is anticipated to be complete in July 2019.






Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hats off to our latest class of NFTA Metro Operators

Class photographed with Metro's Tom George (far right)
and Christopher Antholzner (far left)
Friday, April 20, marked the last day in the seven-week training for our recent class of Metro drivers.  In order to graduate, potential drivers must undergo a written exam and a rigorous road test for their Class B Commercial Driver’s License.  They also receive extensive customer service training and driving practice with an instructor for exposure to Metro's expansive system.  

“The training is extremely intense and is designed that way so that we can provide all of the students with the proper education and necessary tools to best serve the public and our riding community.  I am so proud to meet the new group of drivers, and I hope that everyone will stay safe, be on-time and nice to our riders.  These individuals truly are the face of NFTA Metro, and I hope that they all enjoy a long and rewarding career with us,” said Tom George, Director of Public Transit.  
Training class size ranges from 18 to 20 drivers every eight weeks. If you would like to be considered for the next class, applications are available on Metro’s website at jobs.nfta.com or at our office at 181 Ellicott Street.  Once a candidate's application is submitted and are considered qualified, they are  asked to come in ergonomics and safety testing.   Once completed with a passing grade, the next phase of the hiring process includes a formal interview and a pre-employment physical. 

If you are interested in joining Metro’s team, please contact our HR Department at 716- 855-6500 to start the process.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The NFTA hosts its 35th Annual Welless Fair

The NFTA's John DePaolo speaking to
representative at Sam's Club

The NFTA held its 35th annual Wellness Fair in the downtown bus terminal  This year, for the first time, the Wellness Fair was split across three days and hosted over 40 vendors and an estimated 120 employees. 

The Fair offered various hands-on treatments including massages, immunizations and health screenings. In addition, attendees had the opportunity to set up dental appointments and wellness visits with various organizations on-site.   
Pennette Green

On day two there was a table that featured Buffalo Sabres Hockey alumni Larry Playfair and Derek Smith who took photos and signed autographs.   In addition, the NFTA's own Kara Jeziorski from the HSEQ division promoted overall safety for employees and distributed some trinkets. Pennette Green added her own healthy touch by providing items to "make your own trail mix,"  complemented with other light refreshments.

A special shout out also goes to Chris Brophy and the entire NFTA facilities team for their assistance with set up and clean up.  The event would not been such a great success without their attention and hard work.  

We want to thank everyone who attended and took advantage of the wellness fair's offerings; it was great to see so many employees involved in the three-day event.  Stay tuned for information on similar upcoming events soon.
 
 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Safety Belt Use highlighted in NFTA Pit Crew Safety Campaign

Bus Operator Jessica Maldonado, from Metro's Babcock Station, is the newest face in the NFTA's HSEQ Safety Pit Crew campaign which highlights various safety topics. 

Buckle Up - Drive - Stay Alive
The first segment of the campaign focused on hand safety, and the importance while working that we guard the extremely valuable assets including our arms, hands and of course all ten fingers (ft. Lemar Robinson from Cold Spring).   Our second segment focused on winter surface preparation and keeping the snow and ice at bay (ft. Hector Lozada in Facilities Maintenance).  In addition, the adjunct internal "walk like a penquin" campaign helped remind employees on the best method for walking steadily and safely on ice. 


The most recent phase of the campaign focuses on proper seat belt use.  In an event of an accident seat belts really do save lives, so it's critical to buckle up.   In addition to being a great practice, New York State mandates that seat belts be properly worn by all vehicle operators and front seat passengers, and even though it's something simple it significantly helps  protect the lives of our employees, customers and the public on a daily basis.  
Jessica has dedicated the past seven years to her instructing and driving career at the NFTA.   She is well known for her great safety record, her positive attitude, and lovely smile.   Congratulations Jessica for a job well done!

 

 

 

Monday, April 9, 2018

NFTA hosts its 33rd Safety and Service Award Luncheon

Safety Award Winners at Salvatore's Restaurant
The NFTA hosted its 33rd Annual Safety and Service Awards luncheon on Sunday, April 8, at Salvatore's Italian Gardens.  The annual event recognizes the exemplary safety performance of Metro bus and rail drivers and vehicle maintenance workers as well as employees who have reached 25 years of employment at the NFTA.

This year's program began with introductory remarks by Helen Tederous, the NFTA's Public Affairs Director and was followed with an inspiring Invocation by Reverand Ray Mitchell, who is a MetroLink Operator out of Babcock station.  After lunch, the NFTA's Executive Director, Kim Minkel, accompanied by Commissioners Margo Downey and Phil Wilcox individually recognized each award-winning employee present at the event.

Service Award Employees  
Although not everyone was able to attend,
16 drivers received awards for 10 years of safe driving, one with 20 years, two who have 30 years and five with over 30 years - wow!  There are also seven maintenance employees that have a 10 year safety record and 21 employees celebrating a silver anniversary.

“I am so happy to be here today to honor our amazing employees who have achieved outstanding safety records and those celebrating 25 years of service.  These milestones could not have been reached without a true commitment to the company and to the welfare of our customers and the community we serve everyday.  Congratulations to each of you, and thank you for your continued dedication and service." said Kim Minkel.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

WNY Delegation Announces $9 Million in NFTA Funding

Hon. Monica Wallace, Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Sean Ryan
pictured with NFTA's Tom George and members of Metro's engineering staff
On April 2, New York State Assembly members Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Sean Ryan and Monica Wallace along with members of NFTA's leadership team came together at the Delevan/Canisius Metro Rail Station in downtown Buffalo.  The delegation members were on site to announce a $9 Million capital grant through the New York State Department of Transportation for improvements to the NFTA's light rail system. 

The timely funding comes amid significant deterioration through the Metro Rail system, which accounts for 90 percent of the NFTA's capital dollars.  Issues stem from the fact that there is no dedicated state funding line for the light rail system, as current STOA and capital funding only account for bus service at all upstate transit authorities.

"We are extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo, the entire Western New York delegation and the New York State Department of Transportation for these funds.  The Metro Rail system is a tremendous asset in our community, and we need to continue to invest in it to make sure that we maintain a sustainable public transportation network.  This funding will allow us to move onto making improvements at LaSalle Station, to rebuilding rail cars, and taking care of our track and catenary.  Although riders may not physically see these components, they are critical to the system's operation and to providing our riders with safe and consistent rail service," said Tom George, NFTA's Public Transit Director.

Last year Metro rail served an estimated 5 million riders, and these funds will help to continue to serve its customers in the best way possible and further support the resurgence of the great Queen City.

 
 
 
 

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. 



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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.