NFTA Transporter

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Metro sponsors Kevin Guest House Beat the Train Race

Runners getting ready to go - Mike Moore #1442
On Saturday, September 15, the annual Kevin Guest House's Fall Fest 5k and Fun Run presented by NFTA/Metro took place.
Registration for the event was held in Metro's Allen-Medical Campus rail station, as participants geared up to attempt to beat the train (29:42). 

Helen Tederous and
Sabretooth
The NFTA was represented by its
Public Affairs Director, Helen Tederous, who was part of the opening program and also had the honor of shooting the gun to begin the 5k run.  NFTA's Mike Moore participated in the race and was considerably ahead of the train the entire time; coming in third place overall.

Runners, walkers, and party-goers enjoyed a great evening of food and family fun in the beautiful landscape of Buffalo/Niagara Medical Campus.  Buffalo Sabres mascot, Sabretooth, even stopped by and took some "Metro train selfies" with attendees.

The event was a great success, which helped raise funds for the organization's mission of providing a comfortable and supportive home-away-from-home for patients and their families traveling to Buffalo for cancer treatments and medical care.   We are already looking forward to next year!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Patricia Wiseman nominated for 2018 Buffalo Black Achiever's Award

Patricia Wiseman, Superintendent of Special Services for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, has been nominated as a recipient for the 2018 Buffalo Black Achiever’s Award.  A gala to honor all 2018 achievers will be held on Saturday, October 6, in the Grand Ballroom of the Adam’s Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo.

Patricia is an extremely positive influence at the NFTA and is highly regarded among her colleagues and the communities in which she serves.  In Patricia’s supervisory role, she oversees NFTA Metro's reservation based service available to riders with disabilities, which serves over 4,800 customers and provides over 17,000 trips per month within Erie and Niagara counties.

Over her three year career with the NFTA, Patricia has been instrumental in implementing NFTA Metro’s new PAL Direct. This innovative scheduling system enables paratransit customers to schedule their paratransit rides 24 hours per day.  The system also allows access through both the internet or by phone, which has helped enhance overall customer service and Metro’s scheduling efficiencies. 
She has also been influential in streamlining the operations and enhancing efficiency within the customer information center located in the bus terminal at the NFTA's headquarters.  This busy informational resource hub serves Metro customers and has become an integral part in serving our local transit-riding community.
As part of her continuing passion for and commitment to diversity and inclusion, Patricia also serves as a technical advisor on issues relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act. She actively helps educate local agencies and the public on Metro’s ADA services.  She also represents Metro at annual American Bus Benchmarking Group and American Public Transportation Association events.   Her collective efforts focus on assisting individuals with disabilities to increase their mobility and independence through public transportation.
Patricia stays active within the community and is a core volunteer with the Food Shuttle of WNY. This organization is dedicated to helping alleviate hunger by transporting excess prepared and perishable food to soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters throughout the Buffalo area.  Over the years, she has been recognized by the Food Shuttle for her perseverance in helping those in need.
I am extremely honored to be nominated for the 2018 Black Achiever’s award.   I feel fortunate to be a part of an outstanding team of skilled and dedicated professionals at the NFTA, and I’m thankful for the support since joining the company over three years ago.  A heartfelt thank you to Tom George, Director of Public Transit, for the nomination and the support of the NFTA's leadership team," said Patricia.  
Patricia holds a Master of Science degree from Buffalo State College and a Bachelor’s degree in Community Mental Health from University at Buffalo.

 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

K9 Rogan of the NFTA TAPD passes away on 9/11

Officer K9 Rogan of the NFTA Transit Police Department was laid to rest on Sept. 11, 2018, after 10 years of service with Officer Mark Martinelli.  They retired from the TAPD together and Rogan was adopted and remained with Officer Martinelli's family for the rest of his years.

Rogan was the namesake of Matthew Rogan, who served with the FDNY and lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001. The black Labrador puppy named for him was born three years later and became part of the TSA puppy program. The program named all service dogs after fallen first responders at 9/11.

FDNY Firefighter Matthew Rogan
Officer Martinelli met and trained with Rogan for 10 weeks at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Rogan and Mark became inseparable. Rogan, a K9 explosive bomb-sniffing dog, never let Mark down. "I was so proud of him. Everyone loved Rogan. I met so many people and was sent to so many places and events with my dog that I will always cherish. Rogan was my partner and best friend. He was a beautiful gift and a constant part of my life for 14 years. I was lucky to work with such an incredible partner," said Officer Martinelli.

On the day of Rogan's passing, Martinelli, his father and other members of the family draped an American flag over the dog and carried him to the car.  The retired K-9 officer intends to have
his companion cremated, and he will save his ashes
for one last shared act of duty.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Run the Runway


NFTA's Exec. Dir. Kim Minkel (left) and
Dir. of Aviation Bill Vanecek (right)
with the male age 35-39 race winners
On Sunday, August 18, 372 runners participated in Calspan's first ever Run the Runway 5K at the Niagara Falls International Airport. It was the first race of its kind in Western New York, and a very special experiences.

The race took place over the runways and taxiways of the airport, which is shared with the US military. Most of this space is never open to the public.  

The event was coordinated by Eclipse Multi-Sport, a local race management company. Proceeds from the race went to Friends of Family Support Association - 914th Tactical Airlift Wing, which assists local families with members in the military, and the Niagara Aerospace Museum.
Among the finishers, the NFTA was represented by Mike Moore (pictured right), Bruce Izard and Carolyn Concannon. 

The event was such a success, planning has already begun for next year! Stay tuned more information soon.

 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

Operator. Mike Mercado, in Metro uniform (center)
with marching team






















The 16th annual Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade and Festival sponsored by the Hispanic Heritage Counsel was held August 18-19, and NFTA Metro was thrilled to be a part of the festivities again this year. 

As part of its participation, Metro provided two "floats" in Saturday's parade; one 40 foot Metro bus driven by Operator Mike Mercado, who also helped organize Metro's participation in the parade, and a new low-floor paratransit van driven by Operator Lance Zee.  Both vehicles were accompanied by 25 proud and dedicated Metro employees donning specially designed festival T-shirts.  The team walked along in the parade from Niagara Square to LaSalle Park while handing out token Puerto Rico flags and candy to parade-goers of all ages. Later that day, the Metro marching team were thrilled to learn that they had received third place in the float competition.

Saturday morning's Metro
community engagement team
"It was so great to be a part of this event on behalf of Metro and to witness the comradery between our riding public and our operators.  Individuals were coming up and warmly embracing our operations staff out of mutual respect and friendship.  It just goes to show how important Metro and its drivers are within this community," said Misael (Mike) Hernandez, a former bus driver whose current position is in Metro accounting.

Festival-goers also had the opportunity to visit the Metro community tent where staff was on hand to discuss
Metro services, job opportunities as well obtain responses to Metro's newest customer survey. Visitors who took the survey had a chance to enter to win one of three monthly passes.

There were over 8,000 attendees at this year's esperanza-themed event meaning "hope," which helped serve as a reminder of the ongoing hurricane relief efforts for
Puerto Rico.
 


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Beyond the Call of Duty

Crystal Edwards, Cust. Servc. Mgr, Tony Cason,
Chief George Gast and Officer David Zarbo

On August 1, the NFTA's TAPD Chief of Police George Gast presented certificates of appreciation to Tremain (Tony) Cason of the NFTA's Customer Service Department and Bobby Morland from the Facilities Maintenance Division. Both gentlemen were recognized for their assistance with the NFTA's Transit Police Officers while on duty at our downtown bus terminal.

Chris Brophy, Facilities Mgr, Bobby Morland,
Chief George Gast and Officer David Zarbo



Tony has often helped officers working at the MTC by providing Metro system information for those travelers who have been distraught or alone in travel, and Bobby, while working within the bus terminal, has on critical occasions come to the aid of our officers who were dealing with combative issues or physical struggles.

"We appreciate the quick and proactive assistance both of these gentlemen have provided to Officer David Zarbo and other TAPD officers while working at the MTC.  Their behind-the-scenes efforts are truly commendable,"  said Chief George Gast.

Nice job gentlemen - congratulations!    

Tim Meyers recognized in the NFTA Pit Crew Campaign

The newest edition of the NFTA's Pit Crew Campaign highlights Safe Lifting and features Airfield Supervisor, Tim Meyers, who has worked at the NFTA for 39 years.  
 
The new "Lift Safely" poster brings attention to the proper way to lift heavy items.  A couple of tips include the following: 1) stand close to the object, 2) squat down by bending knees while keeping stomach tight, 3) pull load close, 4) as you rise,
lift with your legs, 5) avoid turning body, and 6) most importantly -
always ask for help when needed.

     
Tim was chosen for this campaign due to his commitment to safe work practices for both himself and within his team.   He currently works as the NFIA's Airfield Supervisor where he oversees 13 employees.  Prior to this role, he has held various positions at the NFTA, starting as a custodian at the Buffalo Airport. 
 
Tim is a father of four children and also serves as Town Councilman for the Town of Cheektowaga.  Please join in congratulating him on being selected to represent the NFTA in this authority-wide safety initiative. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Festival-goers get a 'Taste' of Metro

NFTA Metro Bus and outreach display in Niagara Square.






NFTA-Metro participated in the Taste of Buffalo on July 7- 8, with staff on hand to talk with festival-goers about the benefits of using public transit.  At its site, Metro had one of its full size 40-foot buses, which operates on compressed natural gas. Festival attendees had the opportunity to enter their names for a chance to win a free Metro Monthly Pass for August; six winners were chosen out of over 700 entries. Token giveaways were also available for those boarding the bus and learning about Metro’s services.


Ultimately, the goal was to expand awareness of Metro’s services within the community and help develop choice ridership.  Visitors had a blast taking photos with the Metro “selfie frame” and the amazing, full-scale, interactive system map, laid out in front of the bus, featuring all of the restaurants in attendance and how Metro can help get you to them.  Those boarding the Metro Bus listened to ‘Metro Radio,’ a customized music loop featuring attention-grabbing informational messages about Metro services.


The Taste of Buffalo, presented by Tops, is considered one of the largest food festivals in the nation and hosts an estimated 450,000 attendees annual. Its overall mission is in strong alignment with that of our own - in supporting our local community with great places to go and a safe and convenient way to get there.

The outreach was well-received and we are already looking forward to next year’s festivities!

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 significant part in the development of ARFF's new state-of-the-art firehouse.  However, in addition to overseeing all the firehouse's operations 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 his team “go the extra mile” and taking genuine interest in the well-being of those that they serve.

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 recovery proceeding the attack.  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 where he can also feed his passion for photography.

“I’ve seen a lot of things and have been exposed to a lot.  That's part of the reason why  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. 



.

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!