Hearings scheduled on county bus service changes

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July 27—Niagara County will hold two public hearings to discuss proposed changes to Niagara County Rural Transit Bus Service bus routes. At each hearing, a brief presentation of the proposed amendments will be followed by comments and questions from the public.

Hearings are scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Niagara County Courthouse in Lockport and 5 p.m. Aug. 4 at Niagara Falls City Council Chambers.

The changes suggested by the county’s Department of Public Works, which operates the bus service, are intended to address declining ridership, poor coverage and low brand visibility. The service has not undergone significant changes for decades.

Some changes previously indicated by Public Works Commissioner Garret Meal include adding more frequency to common routes and less overlap with NFTA subway system routes. One particular change suggested was that the system should provide coverage for the village of Barker and the town of Somerset, which have not been covered to date.

“Our goal is to provide a consistent and frequent bus schedule that directly ties into existing NFTA bus routes to complement a more comprehensive bus system in Niagara County,” Meal said in a public hearings statement. “Passengers will be able to use their ticket to switch between systems, so we expect the integration to be seamless.”

Free transfers from one route to another, fare reciprocity with NFTA Metro, monthly fare plans and a smartphone app are among other recommended changes. Meal previously said there were no plans to raise fares.

Another issue addressed is misconceptions about the service caused by its name. According to Meal, some county residents feel the service is rural only. The planned rebranding of the system, as “Connect Niagara”, was recommended to convey that the service is more inclusive of the county as a whole.

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