Between Buffalo’s population growth in the latest Census and the ever-changing impacts of COVID-19 on office work and commuting, our region’s array of transportation options are of even greater importance to those living and working in Western New York. Although the automobile has dominated Buffalo Niagara’s transportation for the last half century, our communities have started to transform by supporting biking, walking, transit, and other forms of transportation beyond driving alone. In embracing and offering a wide variety of transportation options, Western New York is working to make our communities more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable.
GO Buffalo Niagara can help. A program that helps commuters, businesses, and property owners understand all of the transportation possibilities available in our region, GO Buffalo Niagara develops plans that can encourage healthier transportation choices.
What are the benefits of sustainable transportation?
A Better Commute for a Better You
Research has shown that individuals who get more physical activity during the week tend to be healthier and have higher morale. And options like biking, walking, and others certainly provide that! Encouraging and supporting active mobility options is an important tool for health and wellness.
Stop Burning Your Money
When you bike, walk, ride transit, or carpool to work, your transportation costs are significantly more predictable (and lower). Aside from saving money on fuel for your car, sustainable modes of transportation also mean you don’t have to pay for parking. Currently, the average annual cost of off-street parking in downtown Buffalo is about $1,225, compared to $900 annually for a monthly NFTA Metro Bus/Rail pass. When you carpool, some parking lots and ramps in downtown Buffalo offer special permits and spaces for carpool commuters to save you money and make your trip more convenient. In some parking ramps, how’s a guaranteed spot on the first level sound when you’re running late?
Sustainability is Attractive
It’s one thing for an employer to say that their company is committed to sustainability, but an entirely better thing to demonstrate that commitment through policy that facilitates getting to and from work without a personal automobile. Making our region as a whole easier to navigate without a car is important for building our workforce as well, according to Business Insider. After the pandemic-induced shift to remote work, employees in larger, more expensive cities are looking to move to small and mid-sized cities that offer a more affordable cost of living and convenient lifestyle – including their commute.
Employers in Buffalo are already working to offer their employees transportation choices and flexibility. Tapecon, a printing, converting, and advanced manufacturing business in Buffalo, recently began offering each of their roughly 100 employees a monthly commuter benefit. Each month, employees receive an extra $75 in their paycheck they can use to pay for parking, a transit pass, or anything else an employee wants to use if for. Rather than simply provide free parking, the commuter benefit program helps cover costs for all types of transportation.
Places are for People
Fewer parking lots means more land devoted to walkable neighborhoods, housing, new small businesses, and green space. Over the last decade, Buffalo has seen transformational development projects on former surface parking lots, creating new housing, small businesses, walkable neighborhoods, hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship, and a renewed sense of pride in our community. Most recently, a parking lot that once covered an entire city block at 201 Ellicott Street has been transformed into a mixed-use development now home to Braymiller Market and 200 units of affordable housing in the heart of downtown Buffalo. The growth of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is another great example; what is now a hub for thousands of workers and students in health, medicine, technology, and entrepreneurship, was a handful of surface parking lots not long ago.
Freeing up space from cars also opens new possibilities for the way we design our streets. In recent years, Buffalo has invested in streetscape projects that reimagine streets as places that are safe and accessible for all users, not just for drivers. Through recent complete streets projects along Chippewa St., Allen St., and Niagara St., Buffalo is making it easier and safer to get around using sustainable transportation.
What GO Buffalo Niagara Has to Offer
So what exactly does GO Buffalo Niagara do to help people reap the benefits of sustainable transportation? Let’s break it down.
- Transportation information clearinghouse
- Commuter Rewards Program
- Guaranteed Ride Home Program
- Carpool Matching
- Interactive Maps and Live Traffic Conditions
- Commute Cost Calculator
For Employers and Property Owners
- Free commuter consultation for your business or property
- Free commuter class to educate employees and tenants of transportation options
- TDM Plan creation for Green Code compliance (City of Buffalo applicable properties)
- Commuter Kiosk Installation
- Bike parking installation
- GO Buffalo Niagara Membership
• Access to a transportation coordinator
• Customized transportation materials for employees and tenants
• Discounted membership to GObike Buffalo and Reddy Bikeshare
• Bike parking assessment and quote
• On-site commuter classes
• Customized carpool matching portal
• Employee/tenant transportation survey and reporting
• TDM Monitoring (for properties with City of Buffalo TDM Plans)
Sustainable Commutes are Not All or Nothing (or One-Size-Fits-All)
Switching to a sustainable transportation mode from driving alone may not work for everyone. We realize that everyone’s life and needs are different, and making the change may not be possible given your circumstances. But for many others, the transition can be gradual. You don’t have to give up your car for good overnight; just riding the bus a few times a month or biking to work once a week can have a notifiable impact on your health, wallet, and community. We encourage everyone to take a look at the options available to them, and before grabbing the keys and getting behind the wheel, ask if that trip could be made some other way. Reflect and find what works best for you. Collectively, small changes in our transportation choices can have a big impact on our communities.
If you want to learn more about how you can work with GO Buffalo Niagara to find sustainable transportation solutions for your business, property, or personal commute, reach out to us at email@example.com or by phone at (716) 256-2430.
By: Brendan Seney, Program Manager, GO Buffalo Niagara