How should Buffalo, NY extend its light rail lines?


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This week we’re looking at Buffalo, NY, where planners are currently considering different options for extending the city’s light rail line. Should new extensions go toward the jobs at Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, new development at Canalside, or economic development near Amherst? Leaders are factoring in the potential for TOD as they make their decision.

The challenge before Buffalo right now is a tricky one because planners will need to balance possible future development with existing riders on the system. Connecting to existing employment centers is the best way to get ridership on new lines, but how can communities do that while also accomodating future growth? In the archive, a document called Destinations Matter: Building Transit Success shows how connecting new light rail alignments to employment can drive ridership, with examples from Houston and Denver showing that getting 30,000 riders a day depends on connections to almost 230,000 jobs on the transit alignments.

Another document in the archive, TCRP 167: Making Effective Fixed Guideway Investments, also discusses what is necessary for fixed guideway investments to succeed. Employment and population proximity, downtown parking restrictions, and grade separation are highly influential metrics in predicting ridership. A companion toolkit is also a great resource for deciding alignments that will garner the most benefits to a community.

Recent TOD news

Here’s what has been happening this week at TOD projects across the country.