Niagara Gazette

March 21, 2010

LEWISTON: Slight detour for bus

Town attorney ties to proposed bus company may alter plan’s course

By Nick Mattera
Niagara Gazette

NIAGARA FALLS — Plans for a planned free bus service for tourists set to run between Niagara Falls, Lewiston and Youngstown may be taking a slight detour because of a town attorney’s ties to a transportation company.

Set to run for eight weeks during the key tourist months of July and August, the details of where the bus would start, stop and frequency of operation are all being sorted out by officials, county Legislator John Ceretto told members of the Village of Lewiston board during a recent meeting.

Also being sorted out is the bus company providing the service. At the recent meeting, Ceretto said the shuttle service would be provided by Niagara Rural Transportation at an estimated cost of $20,000.

A closer look at the bus service shows it has ties to Town of Lewiston and Porter attorney Michael Dowd.

Niagara Rural Transportation is funded by grants it receives from the county Legislature, and then subcontracts its service out to Niagara Falls Coach Lines, which is owned by Dowd. He could not be reached for comment.

When contacted following the meeting Ceretto said all plans were hypothetical and nothing was set in stone.

“If there is any conflict of interest, we will be sure to go another direction,” he said. “I am passionate about this project and want it to get done.”

Ceretto added the bus service was discussed informally with Lewiston Town Supervisor Steven L. Reiter and Lewiston Mayor William Geiben and a few other local government officials.

He said the company was suggested to him by another legislator and he wasn’t aware of Dowd’s connection.

“If the time comes, we will put the service out to bid,” he said.

Ceretto said he has been working on this idea for more than two years and would like to see the bus run for three years with the help of local and county government. Private businesses would take it over after that.