The Buffalo Bills are back, and so is the option to take a bus to games.
After a 12-year hiatus, Metro Bus plans to reintroduce service to Bills games at Highmark Stadium this season as a result of ridership surveys indicating significant interest.
Helen Tederous, spokeswoman for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, said Metro has been in talks with Erie County, the Bills and others about the four-route operation, with a “soft launch” set by in the Aug. 20 preseason game.
“It’s something we haven’t done in a long time, but there was a request in our user survey,” he said, “and it came not only from people who want to use our service to go to games, but also of people who have jobs there too.”
Plans for the pilot program call for service on routes from five starting points, most with car park facilities and transit connections:
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• Downtown Bus Terminal at 181 Ellicott St.
• Black Rock/Riverside Transit Center.
The routes will drop passengers off at Abbott Road in front of the stadium. Four journeys from the city center bus station are planned for each match, while other routes may offer two journeys.
The running backs, Tederous said, will leave the stadium at the end of the game to provide flexibility.
Metro will charge $5 per ride for the “premium service,” he said, adding that officials have not yet scheduled some trips serving games that have not yet been assigned a start time.
Tederous said “operational challenges” rather than lack of ridership led to the end of game-day service in 2010, but new demands are prompting the authority to relaunch a pilot service.