Niagara Gazette


March 10, 2007

TOURISM: Trolley expansion pitched

NIAGARA FALLS — A private tour company is pitching a plan to takeover and expand a trolley service that now shuttles tourists between Niagara Falls attractions and has been run by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for two years.

Doreen O’Connor, president of Niagara Majestic Tours, has approached the city’s Tourism Advisory Board with a proposal that she says would expand the trolley system to attractions throughout Niagara County for about the same cost as the current system.

“As a private company, I can go in and do it for less than the NFTA,” said O’Connor, who has pitched the plan to the advisory board and representatives from the region’s tourism industry.

O’Connor and Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. President John Percy have asked the city to consider a trial run in which the trolley service is expanded to attractions like Fort Niagara or the Erie Canal in Lockport.

Mayor Vince Anello said he plans to request proposals from companies to expand the trolley service. But expanding the service may meet opposition from other city leaders who would vote on the contract for the trolley service.

Councilman Sam Fruscione, who sits on the city’s Tourism Advisory Board, said he is adamantly opposed to Niagara Majestic’s proposal. Fruscione said city hotels and motels that pay an extra 1 percent bed tax to fund the existing trolley service shouldn’t foot the bill to drive tourists out of town.

“The other areas have to pay,” Fruscione said. “I feel that it’s not right to have the hotels and the motels of New York fund and provide a transportation service with a private company outside of the city limits.”

City to explore other options

Local officials have said the trolley has been a success since the NFTA first ran a trial program two years ago. Last year, the program received a dedicated funding source when the state Legislature approved an increase in the city’s hotel occupancy tax.

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