By SAMANTHA MCDONNELL
OBSERVER Staff Writer
GOWANDA - Residents in the Gowanda area will have to find alternative transportation to Buffalo next weekend. The NFTA is stopping its bus run effective May 11.
The bus, route 216, runs through Gowanda to the McKinley Mall. The route makes stops at the Gowanda Rehab and Nursing Center, Collins Correctional Facility, North Collins, Eden and Erie Community College South Campus. The route runs from 5:30 a.m. coming from the McKinley Mall and returns at 5:20 p.m. back at the mall.
The route is being discontinued due to "extremely low ridership," Director of Public Affairs for NFTA C. Douglas Hartmayer said.
On average, the route had 20 individuals riding throughout the day over the last three months. The bus which is a smaller NFTA bus serviced by MetroLink makes five trips both inbound and outbound per day, which on average was four people per trip on a 24-passenger vehicle. According to Hartmayer the route costs $875 per day and that number divided by the 20 riders equals out to $43 per rider per trip. A round trip ticket for riders only costs $2.
"The ridership just hasn't been there to support the bus," Hartmayer said.
According to Hartmayer, the bus runs Monday through Friday and is in service a total of 254 days out of the year. With the cost to run the bus, the route is costing more than $222,000 per year.
The route was started in September 2008 as a pilot program, Hartmayer said. In order to establish the route, the NFTA met with towns and villages and a lot of effort was put into the route. A park-and-ride is even offered in Collins.
"(The route) really didn't live up to expectations, despite all the hard work to get in implemented and laying all that groundwork," Hartmayer said.
The NFTA has been consolidating routes throughout Erie County due to budgeting issues. In total 14 routes have been or will be discontinued.
While the route is being discontinued, Hartmayer said that the route could come back in the future. In order to bring the route back, a financial commitment from the community or institutions.
"We'd be more than willing to sit down with businesses or institutions to sit down to subsidize the (cost of the) route," Hartmayer said. "It would be a financial commitment moving forward."
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