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FEB 03 - FEB 10, 2015

Reporter Predicts Train Station is Doomed

By Anna M. Howard

February 03, 2015

The present train station (above and below), although humble and modest in ap - pearance, is large enough to accommodate the dozen or less train passengers who happen to come here daily.

The Reporter has frequently poked fun at Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster's train station project AKA "Inter-modal Transportation Facility".

The Reporter has also posed serious questions regarding the need, the cost and wisdom in building a train station in an age where travel is ruled by air and road.

Niagara Falls remains primarily a destination reached by auto with visitors arriving from within New York, the northeast and the Midwest. Along with this we have travelers from Asia and Europe who arrive by air.

A cadre of politicians showed up for the cameras to break ground for the new $45 million train station. Note the smiling faces. Why? Because not one of them put up one dime of their own money to build the unneeded train station.

When it comes to the Dyster "Inter-modal Transportation Facility" we feel confident we can predict the future.

The train station "three phase" construction concludes at a minimal cost of $45 million.

The train station opens in late 2015 - just before election - to great fanfare as Dyster cuts the ribbon. As to the date of the ribbon cutting, we predict that if Dyster has a tough primary the ribbon cutting will be early September. If he has a tough general election the ribbon cutting will occur in October.

Although it won't be realized until after the election - train ridership will remains the same as it is now at the old train station: about 10 riders per day.

It’s going to be a huge, empty train station. The city got grants to pay for most of the construction, but will not get grants to maintain it. This suggests that just because you’re offered a grant, doesn’t mean you accept it. Suppose you got a grant for a white elephant, but you had to pay to feed him - would you still accept the grant? The present train station has only a few stop per day and never has a crowd. Unless people are going to start taking trains to the Falls because the new train station is pretty, people should assume ridership will be about the same. The only thing that will change is the huge cost to taxpayers to maintain the new station.

It will also not be until after the election when the true costs to maintain and manage a 25,000 square foot building with tall ceilings and a lot of glass will be calculated.

Costs may soar to $50,000 a month to operate a large, vacant facility.

Dyster and his senior planner, Thomas DeSantis will appeal to US?Sen. Charles Schumer for federal subsidies to cover operation and maintenance, and to aid in getting Border Patrol, Homeland Security and Amtrak to bear more of the operating costs.

But the formerly Democratically-controlled US Senate went Republican. A Republican majority will not give more federal money in support of Dyster's train station, a project built by a Democratic city in a Democratic state supported by Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Democratic Sen Schumer.

The burden to operate and maintain the train station will fall upon Niagara Falls taxpayers.

Those taxpayers presently pay $2.4 million annual mortgage and interest payments for the $45.5 million courthouse, $1.5 million annual charge for the conference center and for parties and events on Old Falls St, inflated cost of government for salaries, overtime and stipends designed by Dyster, millions in consulting fees, and over $100 million in casino funds Dyster spent since 2008, along with a repeating municipal budget deficit Dyster built into the budget against the advice of the NYS State Comptroller.

The train station wasn't needed and wasn't asked for. Its planning flew in the face of everything known about US travel habits and visitation to Niagara Falls.

The future is easy to see.

One of our favorite pictures. There are so few riders for trains in Niagara Falls that the hours of operation are posted on a makeshift wooden ledge above a garbage can. Note the train station is closed by 4:30 every day!

Within months of its grand opening the train station will be near lifeless with an annual operating expense the city, already on the verge of financial collapse, cannot afford.

Within a few years, it will be shuttered, or rented to someone else or sold at a fraction of its cost to build.

I know readers find this hard to believe.

Could government, could Dyster be that stupid?

He built a $45 million train station that few will use and in time will have to be closed, rented or sold?

You read it here first.

The new train station - at 10 times the size of the old - will have the same customers but will cost a fortune to heat. Note the high ceilings and the wasted space.


This fancy new train station will be an attractive but empty building. Note the empty parking lot. This artist rendering will come to show how life imitates art.





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