NFTA Transporter

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

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.