“As Western New Yorkers discuss the best location for its next train station, the best neighborhood investment, and the best site to maximize the passenger experience, again and again the community overwhelmingly chooses Buffalo’s Central Terminal,” Higgins said via a press release this morning.
Buffalo Councilmember David Franczyk concurred: “The Central Terminal is not only the logical choice, but the people’s choice for the location of the new train station, which the people know the time has come for eastside revitalization after such a long wait,”
The Train Station Selection Committee facilitators have outlined a number of criteria the Committee should consider as they make their decision including: Location, Operational Efficiency, Multi-Modal Connectivity, Construction Costs, Passenger Experience, Station, Track, Platform Planning Requirements, Overall Constructability, Station Area Context and Neighborhood Character. In each of these categories, Higgins says Buffalo’s Central Terminal stands above the rest. His assessment of each category follows from the press release:
Station Area & Neighborhood Character:
The Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood was originally established as the proud home to those with Polish roots and continues to maintain a rich and diverse ethnic fabric. Culture runs deep thanks to places like the Broadway Market and residents across the Western New York continue to feel an ingrained connection to the neighborhood. Stretching into the skyline is Buffalo’s Central Terminal surrounded by arguably some of the most architecturally magnificent churches in the country.
Sister Johnice, Director of the Response to Love Center spoke more about the neighborhood, “The Central Terminal is not about money, politics or even saving a building. The Terminal is a landmark, a historical and beautiful Structure. Central Terminal is about a Mission that will be accomplished --- new life and the revitalization of an area and neighborhood in the City of Good Neighbors. This is the opportune time to include and rebuild the East Side as an integral part of growth in the City of Buffalo. Together, LET US BUILD THE CITY OF GOD! "
Deacon Rick Mackiewicz, Administrator of St. John Kanty Parish Community added, “When you go to Washington – go to Union Station. It is a destination point as well as a train stop. Look at the Utica train station – once again, a marvelous edifice that showcases the area it represents. To leave abandoned the Buffalo art-deco masterpiece, already standing out as a neglected source of pride, would be another tragic mistake in the history of Western New York. Let’s get it right this time.”
Thanks to the work of the Central Terminal Restoration Corp., the Buffalo Central Terminal stands well preserved. The more than 520,000 square feet, Art Deco style iconic structure was built to support over 200 trains and 10,000 passengers daily. Amtrak continues to drive down the Central Terminal tracks daily and modifications could bring the once vibrant 1929 station back to life.
The Central Terminal sits just 2.1 miles from the Larkin District, 2.7 miles from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, 3.5 miles from Canalside and 3.9 miles to the Buffalo River. Each of those areas had little activity and visitors not so long ago. With investments and collaboration today they are vibrant and draw people from around the region – the same can be true for Broadway-Fillmore with attention and vision.
The Broadway area is already starting to see renewed interest and investment. Broadway Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services is taking on redevelopment of the building at Paderewski and Fillmore, Torn Space Theater is expanding along the corridor and Jericho Road is opening up a new medical center on Broadway.
“In following the public dialog about the new Amtrak station location, one of the issues that comes up regularly is the Central Terminal’s East Side location. Apparently, there are those who don't recognize the great potential of the area, or the fact that there are already the beginnings, the stirrings, of revival in the area,” said Anthony O. James. “As an architect in the City, and as a board member of Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services, I have seen some of those positive beginnings, which others may not. Investing in the City’s greatest remaining un-restored architectural treasure, and in its surroundings which likewise have great potential, is an investment that will pay great dividends, not only for this neighborhood, but for the whole city and the whole region.”
Torn Space Theater Founder and Artistic Director Dan Shanahan said, “Torn Space has made a long term commitment to the Broadway/Fillmore Corridor and we are developing a catalyst project that will encourage further investment in the area. The Central Train Terminal is the crucial component to revitalizing the Broadway/Fillmore Corridor. Any plausible mixed use development plan of the terminal requires a component reliant on a fully functioning rail yard. This is a rare window opening for a realistic use of the terminal and I hope the opportunity is taken.”
As it stands now, there is little space at a potential Canalside/Downtown station to accommodate parking, pickup and bus connectivity. Accessibility to a station at Canalside becomes even more difficult when sporting events, concerts or other public events flood the area with visitors.
By contrast the Central Terminal site includes turn-around points and a parking lot that can accommodate over 1,000 vehicles. The18-acre site has ample space to accommodate buses, taxis, ride-sharing and opens the door to future transportation options.
Passenger Experience & Operational Efficiency
Amtrak ridership has grown consistently in New York State over the last 7 years. In Western New York (Buffalo, Depew, Niagara Falls Stations) ridership has increased by close to 50,000 since 2009 and remained consistent at around 190,000 passengers over the last 4 years.
The Depew Amtrak station currently attracts nearly 3 times more passengers daily than the Exchange Street station because the suburban station provides ample parking and access to Chicago. The Central Terminal is the only Buffalo option that provides passengers with those same options.
Station, Track, Platform Planning Requirements/Operational Efficiency
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires platforms that provide access through all of the train doors which open at a given site. The tracks through Canalside/Downtown are on a curve which is problematic from the perspective of safety and ADA compliance.
The main east west lines of CSX and Amtrak are adjacent to the Central Terminal complex and proceed directly east to New York City, and directly west to Chicago when boarding from the Central Terminal. None of the other sites can provide direct Chicago connection.
No detours or train switching would be necessary to access these major transportation hubs from the Central Terminal. By contrast, in order to make Canalside work the Lake Shore Limited train would have to back up for more than a mile. To back the Lake Shore Limited out of a Canalside station, the train would have to be fitted with equipment which would allow the engineer to pilot the train from the last car. While parked at Buffalo, the engineer would have to get out of the engine cabin and walk to the back of the train (and Lake Shore Limited is typically a 15-car train that runs in all weather) and assume control there, and then the train would have to be slowly be backed up 1.2 miles to about Larkinville. This will lead to delays that Amtrak and its customers would surely find unreasonable and excessive.
The Train Station Selection Committee is scheduled to meet and make its final decision on April 20. The public can provide comments prior to that date via email to: BuffaloRail@City-Buffalo.com.