Thursday, 24 July 2014, 11:00 pm

Niagara Transit route changes causing headaches for riders

Amalia Harris shows her petition to initiate more changes after Niagara Falls Transit introduced different routes for the first time in 35 years in January.  PHOTO BY BECKI CREWEBy BECKI CREWE
Staff Writer
It’s three months into the new Niagara Falls transit system route changes and residents are still fighting the system.
Niagara Falls Transit implemented its new system on Jan. 5. Since the new bus routes took effect, many Niagara Falls residents have criticized it, calling the routes confusing and lack connectivity.
Amalia Harris, an advocate for transit changes, created a petition asking Niagara Transit to “fix the gaps” in this new system.
“We’re working with Niagara Transit, not against them,” says Harris.
In October 2013, when Harris first heard about the changes, she went to an open house held by Niagara Transit to see the new system proposal. Harris was instantly interested.
“I see, myself, that there were a lot of gaps in connectivity and there would be issues with timing. When I saw this I decided that I wanted to help people get ready for the changes,” says Harris.
This led to the creation of Harris’s Facebook page called Awareness For Niagara Transit Changes. She is known on social media as Leah Harris. She says her page, aims to raise awareness, keep people informed and receive their feedback.
Christian Mauriello-Cosby, 19, a broadcast student at Niagara College, says he struggles getting to and from work and school since the route changes took effect. In order for him to catch the 7:30 a.m. Welland campus bus at Morrison Street, he gets up at 6 a.m. and walks for 45 minutes.
Mauriello-Cosby says he wants earlier buses because the one he needs doesn’t start running until 8 a.m.
“Transit didn’t have to fix something that wasn’t broken,” says Mauriello-Cosby.
Since Harris’s petition captured the attention of many residents, she officialized her petition through a website called change.org in order to receive any recognition from Niagara Transit.
In response, on March 17, Niagara Falls Transit held a new route revisions open house session for all residents to attend. The meeting gave it the opportunity to propose the new changes it will be making to the current transit system.
Niagara Transit is not looking to add any services but to use the current system and make revisions to it to appease concerned residents.
Some of the revisions for daytime services proposed at the open house are starting services earlier in the morning to better serve residents who need transfers for work and school; revising departure times to better connect with the WEGO Red Line along Lundy’s Lane; revising departure times to better connect Niagara Square with Mount Carmel Plaza, and Target Plaza with Stamford Centre.
Revisions for evening services consist of interlining certain bus routes with each other for fewer transfers at the Main and Ferry Hub, extending some bus routes to later hours, and having buses 209 and 210 remain the same as the daytime services to provide better connectivity at the Hubs.
The main issues residents raise with Niagara Transit are the lack of connectivity, too many transfers, and the confusion with transfer zones when buses change their route number.
“A lot of the feedback was that we needed a half an hour service so that things could connect better,” says Harris.
The revisions proposed by Niagara Transit will be implemented on May 4.
“I think this is going to be a working progress over the next couple of years,” says Harris.

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