Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Western New York Transfer Points
Niagara Frontier Transit System,Inc. and NFTA Metrobus and Rail
Home
Transit in the Salt City
Transit in the Cataract City
Transit in the Flower City
Serving The Niagara Frontier
Buffalo's Largest Suburban Bus Line

This page covers the Niagara Frontier Transit System,Inc. from its 1950 takeover of the assets and liabilities of the bankrupt International Railway  Company, through its 1961 acquisition of the Buffalo Transit Company to the  NFTA Metrobus and Rail system of today.

The Niagara Frontier Transit System,popularly known as the NFT, had its origins in 1902 as the International Railway Company,which was the product of a merger among seven smaller companies, of which  the Buffalo Street Railway was the largest, and formed the core of the system. IRC began operating with 983 street cars and 353 miles of track. Peak ridership reached 4.3 million during the week of July 9,1916. Seven years later, subsidiary, International Bus Company was formed  to operate bus service on streets not  served by the then current streetcar network. It began operating its first route on Bailey Avenue. It was one of the  first bus lines operating in Buffalo. 1924 saw IRC bus service operate with double decker buses on Delaware Avenue. Thus began  the gradual conversion of IRC's transit operationn to buses as equipment and facilities wore out or became too expensive to maintain. In Niagara Falls, IRC replaced   the streetcars with buses. At that time, the company then operated 366 streetcars on 17 lines and 325 buses on 10 lines. Many of these buses were 25 to36 seat Macks. By 1940, larger buses  from Mack and Twin Coach began to replace these  smaller buses. At that time, the streetcar system and facilities, though still a major mover of  passengers was in bad shape. IRC was beginning to get delivery of its larger buses when WWII broke out, thus requiring IRC to use everything that  could turn a wheel to handle the  load. After the war was over, the IRC found its debt to be   well in excess of the company's net worth and a July,1947 bankruptcy declaration was the result. Between 1948 and 1950, the IRC had lost $1 million a year. Its reorganization was completed in the spring of 1950,  at which time the 9-Parkside,8-Main,13 Kensington,4-Broadway,23 Fillmore-Hertel, and 24-Genesee were the  last six lines still operating  with streetcars. On June 1,1950, the IRC's assets were transferred to the Niagara Frontier Transit System, which soon bused   the Parkside-Zoo,Main, and Kensington lines a few weeks later. On July 1,1950, the Fillmore-Hertel,Broadway, and Genesee car lines went out together amidst considerable ceremony,thus making NFT an   all bus operation.. In 1954,   the NFT introduced radio dispatching to the transit scene   and received Buffalo's first air conditioned buses in 1956. The advent of the New York State Thruway made express bus service between downtown Buffalo and suburbs possible. This was begun on August 3,1959 on the 15-Seneca,16-South Park, and 2-Clinton routes. As   the expressway network developed, so did the express bus service. In addition,  the Buffalo Transit Company, which would come into the NFT fold in 1961, developed express runs on its routes into downtown Buffalo as well. As the suburbs began to prosper trouble was brewing for public  transit.

Table 1. 1950 NFT Bus Fleet
Mack      C37DT     1949             Nos.3700-3759         60 buses
Mack      C45DT     1949             Nos.4500-4599       100 buses
Mack      C45DT     1950             Nos.4600-4739       140 buses
Twin     41GS     1947-48            Nos.5001-5172       172 buses
Total 472 buses. In addition, six deluxe highway cruiser type buses were acquired for long distance charter  service.
Table 2. 1954-60 Fleet Additions
Mack    C49DT       1954             Nos.6000-6029          30 buses
Mack    C49DT       1955             Nos.6100-6159          60 buses
Mack    C49DT       1957             Nos.6200-6244          45 buses
Mack    C49DT     1958-59         Nos..6300-6359          60 buses
GMC   TDH5106     1958            Nos..7001-7059          59 buses
GMC   TDH5301     1960-61      Nos....7400-7459        60 buses
These replaced the remaining gasoline powered buses along with the pre 1950 Macks.. In 1958, NFT bought its first sizeable  group of GMC buses.
Table  3. 1960-69 Fleet additions (final round)
GMC    TDH5301     1961         Nos.7460-7489            30 buses
Gmc    TDH5304      1963        Nos... 7500-7549         50 buses
GMC    TDH5304      1964       Nos. 7550-7599            50 buses
GMc     TDH5304      1966       Nos.7600-7684             85 buses
GMC     TDH5304     1967       Nos. 7685-7719            35 buses
GMC  T6H5306         1968       Nos. 7720-7744            25 buses
GMC  T6H5306          1969      Nos. 7745-7794            50 buses
Thus, NFT was now a major GMC operator.
Table 4. Divisional Structure of NFT
This followed the pattern established by the International Railway Company:
COLD SPRING DIVISION          BROADWAY-BAILEY DIVISION
7-Baynes-Richmond                      !-William
8-Main                                                2-Clinton
9-Parkside-Zoo                                4-Broadway
10-West Utica                                  6-Sycamore
12-East Utica                                   14-Abbott
13-Kensington                                15-Seneca
17-Central Terminal                       16-South Park
18-Jefferson                                     19-Bailey
21-Michigan-Forest                         24-Genesee
22-Porter Best                                  27-Ridge Road
23-Fillmore-Hertel                            31-South Buffalo
28A Sheridan Shuttle                      35-Hamburg-via S.Park
32 Amherst                                         36-Hamburg via Abbott
FRONTIER DIVISION                       37-Boston via Camp
3-Grant
5-Niagara
11-Colvin
20-Elmwood
25-Delaware
30-Kenmore-River Road
All three divisions operated out of former IRC carbarns until relatively recently. The Broadway   Bailey facility  was replaced with a garage at Giesel-Wolford just off of Babcock street on Buffalo's east   side. Only Cold Spring seems to still operate from a former IRC car  barn.  This divisional structure continues in effect for the Buffalo city lines and interurban routes 40,44,76. The bringing of the Niagara Falls city bus operation into Metrobus  added a fourth division, the Niagara Falls Division, which caters to the city routes in that city.
Table 5. Buses of smaller operators conveyed to NFTA in1974-1975:
From D&F Transit: PD4106s 641-644,651,and682 to NFTA 241-244,251 and 282. From Lockport Bus Lines:TGH3102 No.23,TDH3714 No.28, PD4104s 34,35,40,41,43-48 and PD4106 No.50 all renumbered as follows: 223,228,234,235,240,241,243-248,and 250.From Grand Island Transit came SDM4501s 66 and 68,which became 166 and 168,SDM5302 104, which kept the same number as did S8M5303A 114. The two limousines 53  and 54 came with these four buses but were never used in service.