Taxicab lineup, extra NFTA trains set to transport visitors at this month’s tournament.

An effort coordinated by the City of Buffalo and Visit Buffalo Niagara between local taxicab companies and public transportation will help ensure a smooth experience for spectators at rounds one and two of the NCAA Tournament later this month.

Mayor Byron W. Brown brought together several community stakeholders, including Visit Buffalo Niagara, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, local taxicab companies and the NFTA to hammer out a plan for ground transportation at the NCAA tournament.

The tournament is expected to bring thousands of visitors downtown and conservatively generate $8 million in economic impact when it arrives in Buffalo from March 16-18. When it does, Buffalo’s cab companies and the Metro Rail will be ready with a plan to accommodate that influx of visitors.

Some of the adjustments made following these discussions convened by Mayor Brown and VBN President and CEO Patrick Kaler include:

–          A taxi standing area to be sited along Hanover Street, in between Marine Drive and Prime Street at Canalside. Signage and volunteers stationed inside Key Bank Center will direct attendees looking for a cab to this location. (See attached map for more details). Additional taxis will be available along Marine Drive past Lloyd Street. Visitors to Buffalo can also order a cab by downloading the Curb app on their phones.

–          The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will adjust the Metro Rail’s capacity and frequency to include more train cars and additional trains during peak times over the course of the tournament.

–          The entire length of the Metro Rail will be free on the second day of the tournament, Saturday, March 18, courtesy of the Coors Light Drink Responsibly program.

These adjustments will be especially important because of a 90-minute time period on March 16 in between game sets where visitors must vacate Key Bank Center and will be looking for somewhere downtown to eat and drink. The specific times of those games – and the subsequent 90-minute intermission —  will not be announced until Selection Sunday, March 12. The taxi stand will also be operating following the last games on Thursday, and after the Saturday games.

“My administration worked proactively with Visit Buffalo Niagara, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, and the NFTA to develop a plan to enhance traffic flow along the streets near the Key Bank Center during the NCAA play-offs, particularly the flow of taxis,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said.  “This is designed to prevent bottlenecks in traffic in front of the arena, while still providing game-goers with taxi services in close proximity. We are looking forward to playing host to the NCAA teams and their fans and leaving them with a fantastic impression of the City of Buffalo.”

“We are confident that these adjustments will help visitors have a great experience when they arrive here later this month,” Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Patrick Kaler said. “Buffalo’s taxis and public transportation are up to the task to ensure our visitors can navigate our resurgent city as efficiently as possible.” 

“It’s been a pleasure to serve the Western New York Community for over 40 years,” said William Yunke of Liberty Cab. “We’re looking forward to working with Visit Buffalo Niagara and other community leaders to make Buffalo a first-class tourist destination.”

“NFTA-Metro is looking forward to providing safe and reliable public transit to the thousands of fans attending the basketball games at the KeyBank Center,” said Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA Executive Director. “Metro Rail provides free parking at University and LaSalle Stations and with its Special Events station just a ‘short jump shot’ away from the facility’s front door, it provides the most convenient transportation option possible.”