Mobility Across the Ages at Buffalo Central Terminal Saturday
Back in the day before international airports and interstate highways, the Central Terminal was Buffaloâ€™s gateway to the world. But in a turn of events scarcely imaginable to the generation that built the Terminal, passenger rail service is now a ghost of its former selfâ€”chronically late, infrequent, and boarded from sheds either miles away in Depew, or cowering hidden at the feet of the expressway downtown. Now, in a post-modern era of skyrocketing gas prices, re-urbanization, and increased recognition of transportation alternatives, what could our transportation system and options look like in the next decade or so? And what could be the role of the Central Terminal?
This Saturday, the Central Terminal will play a clear role in our transportation future by playing host to a unique transportation symposium, Mobility Across the Ages, which willâ€”appropriately enoughâ€”include discussions of regional passenger rail options.
According to Patrick Braun, of Buffaloâ€™s chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, which is convening the symposium:
Step into Western New Yorkâ€™s transportation history, and discover its future, as Buffalos Central Terminal comes alive with music, art, brews, and a sustainable future for all.
Mobility Across the Ages is an interactive event that will serve to engage and entertain the public while presenting both the historical context and the current reality of transportation and energy in our region. It is the first collaborative event of its kind to bring together all the sectors necessary to develop an efficient sustainable transportation system.
Planners, policy makers, community members, academics, businessmen and visionaries will convergeâ€”in a behemoth of Buffalos transportation pastâ€”to initiate a public dialogue about the regionâ€™s future in what is becoming an increasingly energy-driven society. The event will highlight a variety of local plans for regional transportation development, including a high speed rail connecting Buffalo to major regional hubs like Toronto and New York City, the development of sustainable sources of automotive fuel, and the expansion of intermodal transit facilities for rail, trucks and shipping.
As we approach a period of heightened energy prices, Western New York planners must set goals for the improvement of its transportation systems, in terms of convenience for riders and more than everâ€”energy efficiency.
If we look at Buffalo areas birth and not so distant past, our geography has endowed us with the benefits as a hub of transportation. Western New York needs to confront high energy prices as an opportunity for economic growth and development.
Attendees will be treated to a day of live music spanning the eras of the terminals life from the roaring â€˜20s to the electronic future with Flying Bison and delectable goodies from several local restaurants. The event will likely feel akin other successful Central Terminal fests, the historic venue brought back to life through art, music and good beer.
From 3PM on, a museum will host displays and a speaker series that will focus on the History of Transportation, Timing the Energy Transition, The Hydrogen Economy and Opportunities for Regional Leadership. Throughout the day university members, local and regional government, the NFTA, the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transit Council (GBNRTC), the rail industry, and the New York State Department of Transportation will present their plans.
In the evening hours, the terminal will be decked out with transportation-themed installations from local artists. Dinner will be available at 5:30PM, and the music of the â€˜60s will lead into the nighttime festivities.
Mobility Across the Ages is being put on by student chapters of Engineers for a Sustainable World from the University At Buffalo and the University of Rochester, in cooperation with the GBNRTC, the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation and Flying Bison Brewery.
Educational resources and transit plans and will be presented by The New York State Department of Transportation, the NFTA, Citizens for Regional Transit Corp., ESPA [Empire State Passenger Association], the Toronto Party Transportation Committee, the Office of Sam Hoyt and the Buffalo Museum of Science.
Through the production of this event, Engineers for a Sustainable World hopes to initiate dialogue, involve and educate the public, and support a forward-thinking regional transportation strategy.
Any profits from the event will be used to fund future projects by student organizations working on transportation feasibility studies for and the reuse of the Central Terminal as a transit hub.
Rochesterâ€™s chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World is one of the organizers of the event, and expects to bring a dozen participants to Buffalo Saturday, according to University of Rochester Professor Ben Ebenhack, faculty advisor for the chapter. Professor Ebenhack will be giving a talk at the symposium about timing our energy transition away from our current petroleum-based economy. Among other projects, his chapter is conducting a pilot effort to use biodiesel fuelâ€”including byproducts of the campus food serviceâ€”to help fuel the campus bus fleet. They also acquired a 1920â€™s-era duplex house and are experimenting with energy-efficient retrofits using one half of the house as a control.
Donâ€™t miss this opportunity to be part of visioning the transportation future of the region.
See the Brown Paper Tickets site for complete details or to purchase advance tickets. Tickets can be purchased at the event for $8, or in advance for $5 from Brown Paper Tickets.
Engineers for a Sustainable World
University at Buffalo
Photo credit: Ken Kramer