Niagara Gazette — New York's Authorities Budget Office believes the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority could be run more efficiently.
In an operational review of the NFTA released Tuesday, the budget office determined that while the local transportation agency has adopted a series of cost-saving measures in recent months, it could be doing more to achieve additional savings and maximize available revenues not currently being realized.
According to the report, the budget office found as many as 165 employees — more than 10 percent of the NFTA's total workforce — perform functions that need not be performed. The authorities budget office pegged the annual cost for those employees at more than $13.8 million, including $10.8 million in expenses for roughly 85 NFTA police officers stationed at local airports and throughout the Western New York transit system.
The budget office made 13 recommendations for improving NFTA efficiency, including re-evaluating the need for in-house public safety personnel, continuing to reduce or eliminate low-performing bus routes and actively marketing available space inside regional transportation centers, including two in Niagara Falls.
In response the audit findings, NFTA Chairman Howard Zemsky issued a statement, saying it validates the "extensive effort put forth by senior staff over the past year to address both short- and long-term financial efficiencies throughout the authority."
"We will fully process the audit and staff will completely review the recommendations made by the ABO for future consideration," he said.
One of those revenue sources not being fully realized relates to operations of two transit centers in the Niagara Falls area, including the bus terminal on Portage Road and the Niagara Falls Transportation Center on Fashion Outlets Boulevard.
In its review, the budget office found that while the NFTA spent more than $2.4 million to maintain and operate both transit centers as well as its main terminal in the city of Buffalo in fiscal year 2011-12, it collected only about $500,000 in rental and vendor payments during the same time period.