As the peak oil era stretches on, and high oil and gasoline prices become the norm, one would think it should be obvious that the last place state and local governments should be making budget cuts is in public transportation. Sadly, that is not the case, as this story out of Buffalo shows:
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has approved a budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Cuts in state aid and dwindling revenue from NFTA owned properties have left the transportation authority with a 15 million dollar budget gap. To fill that hole the Board of Commissioners has approved several deep cuts in personnel and service routes.At least Buffalo's mayor is cognizant of the negative effects these cuts are going to have on the citizens who have to ride the buses to get around. The scary thought is contemplating what is going to become of these people when the day finally comes that the buses stop running altogether.
- 50 positions are being eliminated. 20 of those positions come from the NFTA's police force.
- 81 bus service routes will be eliminated.
- 14 other routes will see reductions in service.
- Metro Rail service will be eliminated on Sundays after 8:00 pm.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was at the budget meeting and addressed the Board shortly after the vote. Brown says up to 80 percent of the NFTA's bus customers are city residents and many rely on the bus system as their only source of transportation. Brown added that he has reached out to the state legislature, the Governor's office and the New York Power Authority for assistance. The NFTA will be holding several public hearings on the budget cuts in the coming weeks.
Bonus: looks like the boys from ZZ Top may be waiting for the bus a bit longer