BY FRANK PARLATO
There was a time when husbands and wives did it frequently.
Lovers thought it was incredibly romantic to do over and over again.
Sometimes they did it all night long and from city to city.
When was the last time you did it?
Ride the train, that is.
So now the City of Buffalo really thinks they need a new $50 million train station to accommodate the 57 arrivals and 57 departures in and out of the Exchange Street Station.
It is rather nonsensical.
Consider. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster’s completed a $45 million train station called “the Niagara Falls International Railway Station & Intermodal Transportation Center” late last year.
That’s a mouthful – in fact it is the longest name for any train station in America.
It is one of the loneliest too.
At 22,000 square feet, it is bigger than train stations in large cities. Niagara Falls averages 64 passengers per day [32 coming and going]. Amtrak serviced these in an 800 square foot station at no cost to city taxpayers. 800 square feet is all they rent in the new station since that is all the need.
It is up to taxpayers to pay for the other 21,200 square feet of new train station space.
Like what is proposed in Buffalo, the construction of the Niagara Falls International Railway Station & Intermodal Transportation Center was funded by federal, state and (when it went over budget) city-funded. Once it was finished the city taxpayers pay for its most of its maintenance about $500,000 per year.
The increase in city taxpayer burden will be paid by city taxpayers but offer no new train services — just a much larger station for what is an outmoded form of transportation.
In Niagara Falls, critics say Mayor Dyster built the train station to quench his childhood wish to be a railroad engineer.
But is it outmoded?
Please stop reading right here, turn to your friend, your spouse, your significant other or whoever is sitting or standing near you and ask: When was the last time you rode a train?
When you traveled to Disney World, did you take a train? When you went to Vegas for the weekend, did you take a train? When you went to DC and chaperoned your children’s school outing, did you ride the train? When you went to New York City with friends to catch a Yankee’s game did you take the train? When you and your girlfriends shopped the Big Apple for the holidays, did you go by train?
So, who is taking the train and, more importantly, who is going to be taking the train to Buffalo or Niagara Falls?
The millions of city dollars spent to build the train station could have gone toward further development of the airport. It could have gone toward road and highway improvement so that visitors would have a smooth, safe stay instead of pothole-filled roadways.
There are few places in America where roads are in poorer condition.
The millions could have been saved, gone to the general fund, to reduce what are the nearly highest property taxes in New York State in proportion to the value of the real estate.
In Niagara Falls, Dyster instead built an outmoded transportation monument to himself at a huge cost and a huge future maintenance cost – for what is an empty building.
That will be one of his legacies. A disproportionately large station that will be empty most of the time and cost taxpayers all of the time.
In Niagara Falls, we are indeed fortunate that Mayor Dyster never dreamt of becoming an astronaut.
What’s your excuse?