Niagara Gazette

Tourism

June 21, 2006

Falls trolley service staying on track

Routes won’t be extended this summer

Those free trolley rides are back on track after some local hoteliers and the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. reached an agreement on keeping the existing route.

The hotel owners had objected earlier when NTCC President John Percy said he wanted to see the trolley shuttle service extended to other places like Youngstown, Lockport and North Tonawanda.

With both sides apparently unable to agree on the matter, state Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, said he would not support any bill in the Senate — the session was scheduled to end today — unless the hotel owners and Percy settled their differences.

The state Assembly had already approved a measure for Niagara Falls hoteliers to increase their 4 percent bed tax to 5 percent, with the additional revenue earmarked for the trolley service.

Frank Strangio, who operates the Quality Inn, Niagara Falls Boulevard, said the hoteliers were primarily interested in extending the service this year for a longer period of time and to include the downtown trolley as part of the same free trip. At present, the other trolley has offered a shuttle around the South End, charging passengers $1 each.

“The NTCC never had any intent to block this plan for the trolley,” Percy said. “We support the existing legislation and we’d like to take another look in early fall to see if we can possibly expand the service. To do it this season was never part of the plan.”

Percy added that, in his opinion, if the trolley service extends to Lockport and other county destinations, it could be a significant factor in extending a visitor’s stay.

“Percy and I are actually on the same page about this. And we believe the whole idea of the trolley is a great service for the Falls,” Strangio said, “There’s no question it would make sense to extend it. Our guests would certainly like the idea of getting a free ride to Old Fort Niagara and other attractions.”

Strangio, however, contends that the local tourist industry has to build on what it now has.

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