Niagara Gazette — Community organizers participated in National Voter Registration Day by riding buses and engaging public transit riders.
Members of the the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope, the Lockport 201 Coalition and VOICE-Buffalo boarded buses throughout Niagara and Erie counties to talk with the people who depend on public transit and to help them register to vote.
The organizations hoped to raise awareness of looming service cuts and to recognize the over 94,000 Western New Yorkers who use public transit every day, according to a joint press release from the organizations.
T.J. Colangelo, the chair of Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope's Transportation Task Force, said that while route cuts are an important topic organizers will be discussing a number of issues with transit riders.
"It's more about public transportation in general," Colangelo said. "Today is going to be an education session."
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority sent a letter to the Niagara County Legislature in February saying that if the county did not pay a substantial amount of the nearly $1 million operating deficit for the county the authority would be forced to cut services.
William Ross, the chair of the Niagara County Legislature, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Colangelo said that his organization wants the Niagara County Legislature to contribute the additional $800,000 to $1 million that the NFTA says it needs to keep all routes operating in the county.
"Niagara County is not contributing what they need to be for public transportation," Colangelo said. "Routes in Niagara County are in jeopardy."
Colangelo said that the organizations are not endorsing any specific candidates or concentrating on a specific race in today's effort, but that he hopes that transit users will consider the possible route cuts and other transit issues when they go to the polls.
"We're out there promoting people's fundamental right to vote," Colangelo said.