NFTA Confronts Paratransit Controversy

BJ Stasio gets a public response from NFTA officials

Mike Baggerman
March 24, 2017 - 6:40 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - After an incident on March 16 where he waited over an hour at the Southgate Plaza for the NFTA’s Paratransit bus to take him home from work, BJ Stasio finally received a response from NFTA in a public setting.

NFTA Public Policy Director Doug Hartmeyer and Public Transit Director Tom George explained in general terms that the NFTA is doing everything they can to accommodate all people who use the various forms of their transportation, but New York State’s funding makes it difficult. 

Hartmeyer presented a graph which explained that Paratransit rides have increased 59% from 2008-2016 but have only received a 4.5% increase in state funding.

“You can’t have those types of increase and only receive a minimum amount of assistance which we are very grateful for and very appreciate of,” Hartmeyer said. “But as our business continues to grow we need a dedicated source of revenue so we can plan accordingly and provide the type of service that we want to provide to each and every one of our customers each and every day.”

Complaints from many people with disabilities at Friday’s meeting included slow response times, poor communication, rude drivers, and more.

NFTA officials explained there are plans for a new communication system to better assist all people who attempt to contact NFTA. However, they also said there may be some growing pains as a result of the new systems.

Stasio told WBEN after the meeting he had mixed-satisfaction after the meeting.

“It wasn’t really a meeting of solution,” he said. “I feel it was more of a meeting of ‘let’s have a gripe session’ which I never wanted in the first place. My goal was to bring unity and bring people together.”

He explained that he didn’t like how emotional the meeting became at times and wanted supporters to become a true advocate. He said he would like “quarterly forums” to help give people in similar situations as him a voice.

NFTA officials told WBEN that it can be assumed similar incidents could happen in the future because of funding. NFTA is expected to receive a 1.5% increase for the upcoming fiscal year.

Assemblyman Mickey Kearns hosted the public meeting in West Seneca. 

 

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