SCHUMER CALLS FOR SUMMIT TO ADDRESS BUFFALO'S AMTRAK STATION & CURRENT STATE OF DISREPAIR – IN WAKE OF RECENT ROOF COLLAPSE, SCHUMER SAYS TIME IS NOW TO DEVELOP PLAN TO MOVE RAIL SERVICE IN WESTERN NY FORWARD
Last Week’s Roof Collapse At Buffalo’s Exchange Street Station Signals Need For Quick Action – While Stations In Rochester, Syracuse, Jamestown, And Niagara Falls Have Been Renovated, Buffalo’s Station – Built In 1950s – Has Yet To Receive The Attention & Investment It Deserves
Senator Invites Amtrak & Local Buffalo Transportation and Economic Development Officials To Meet In DC To Hammer Out A Plan & Discuss Funding Strategy That Would Improve & Modernize Rail Service In Western NY
Schumer: Western New York Deserves Top-Notch Rail Service
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called for a summit to address the Amtrak station in Downtown Buffalo and its current state of disrepair. Schumer said that, following heavy rains last week, Buffalo’s Amtrak station was forced to temporarily shut down after a section of the ceiling collapsed in the passenger waiting area. The waiting area remains closed until further notice. Schumer said further infrastructure problems at the Exchange Street station could threaten travelers’ personal safety and hurt tourism and area businesses. As a result, Schumer invited top Amtrak officials as well as officials from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to join him for a meeting in Washington, DC, to develop a plan and funding strategy for improved and modernized rail service in Western New York. This unfortunate accident comes after CityLab called the Exchange Street station one of the “Saddest Amtrak Stations in America” in July of 2015.
“The incident last week should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and Amtrak, in conjunction with local officials and the federal government, now has a unique opportunity to create a comprehensive strategy to upgrade and modernize this aged train station,” said Senator Schumer. “Western New Yorkers deserve a modern, safe and efficient train station – not the outdated and dilapidate and increasingly dangerous station they have now. Improving our rail service is not just a matter of convenience; more reliable infrastructure will also improve public safety, and support the economic resurgence of Buffalo and the development of our waterfront, which is just steps away. Modernized rail service is also key to connecting tourists, residents and workers to the entire region – from Canalside to Niagara Falls.”
Schumer continued, “Failure to revamp the Buffalo Amtrak station is putting travelers and our economy at risk. That’s why I have invitedtop Amtrak officials and local leaders in Buffalo to come together and discuss next steps and how we can move forward. Now is the time to hammer out a firm plan of action and funding strategy, for improving the station and the surrounding infrastructure to support jobs and economic development.”
Schumer said the Downtown Buffalo train station has long been due for an upgrade. While train stations in Niagara Falls, Jamestown, Rochester and Syracuse have been renovated and reborn in recent years, Schumer said Buffalo’s station, which opened in 1952, has yet to receive the attention and investment it deserves. Buffalo has a rich history when it comes to rail travel; the Buffalo Central Terminal was once one of the great gateways to Buffalo. However, visitors now arrive in Buffalo and are greeted by a crumbling, small, and unwelcoming train station. Schumer said now is the time to take advantage of the fact that Congress continues to work with Amtrak to improve and modernize rail service. Schumer said local and federal officials must come together and seize the opportunity to re-think Buffalo’s station by developing a collaborative long-term solution to improve the station. Schumer also noted the need for public input.
Schumer has long fought to secure the funding needed to revitalize Upstate NY train stations. In 2011, Schumer helped secure $58 million in high speed rail money for the Empire Corridor, which helped replace the entire Schenectady Station and construct a fourth station track at the Albany-Rensselaer Station. Niagara Falls recently debuted its new International Railway Station; in 2010, Schumer successfully secured $16.5 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds to help make this major upgrade possible. Also in 2009, Schumer helped secure more than $1 million in federal funds that allowed Jamestown to rehabilitate its Gateway Intermodal Station. In 2006, Schumer was a part of the effort to secure $5 million to design and build the transit center in Downtown Rochester. Depew, Utica, Rome and Syracuse have also made improvements to their stations in recent years.
A copy of Schumer’s letter appears below:
Dear Wick Moorman, President & CEO of Amtrak; Rep. Brian Higgins, Member of Congress; Byron Brown, Mayor for the City of Buffalo; Robert Gioia, Chairman of the ECHDC; and Kim MinkelExecutive Director of the NFTA:
I write today to ask that you join me in my DC office for a meeting to discuss the future of the Amtrak Station and service in downtown Buffalo. The downtown Amtrak Station is currently closed following the partial collapse of the roof over this past weekend. This problem shed a bright light on the ongoing challenges of Amtrak service in downtown Buffalo, and has brought into sharp focus the need for a long-term solution. Buffalo is in the midst of an incredible resurgence, the waterfront and downtown Buffalo are both bustling with new investment, and it’s time to develop a plan for rail service in Buffalo that keeps pace with that growth. With that in mind, I ask that you join me for a meeting in my DC office with the other stakeholders in this effort so that we can develop a collaborative long-term solution.
In recent years train stations throughout Upstate New York have been reborn – in Niagara Falls, Jamestown, Rochester, and Syracuse new stations have just been completed or are on the way. However, downtown Buffalo’s station, which opened in 1952, has yet to receive the attention and investment it deserves. Buffalo has a rich history when it comes to rail travel; the Buffalo Central Terminal was once one of the great gateways to Buffalo, but now visitors arriving in Buffalo via train are greeted by a crumbling, small, and unwelcoming train station. We have a tremendous opportunity, especially now as Congress continues to work with Amtrak to improve and modernize rail service, to re-think Buffalo’s station, and we should not let that opportunity go to waste.
In addition, with plans underway for new NFTA light-rail service and stations along the waterfront, as well as potential expansions of the light rail service further north, and the increasing investment and development along the waterfront, the time is now for re-imaging Buffalo’s Amtrak Station in a collaborative way. By working together we can develop a plan and a funding structure that can help move rail service in Buffalo and the entire region forward. Amtrak service holds a number of potential opportunities for Western New York, not just long-distance service, but also including the potential to provide vital links to Canada, Niagara Falls, and other regional destinations. By working together to develop an action plan we can make best use of the opportunities we have and ensure that a plan with stakeholder and public input is developed and implemented.
In the coming days I will have my office reach out to your staff to invite you to a meeting to discuss this issue and I’d ask that you strongly consider participating. I’m looking forward to collaborating on this project, should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Charles E. Schumer
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