UB students explore feasibility of a rapid transit line along the New York State Thruway

A Proposed Road Train.

The proposed Road Train, a high-speed articulated vehicle, would travel along the New York State Thuway, connecting upstate metro areas from Buffalo to Albany. (Map created by student Claudia Savoy)

by Rachel Teaman

Published October 16, 2020

Environmental design students at UB will work this semester with regional leaders to conduct a feasibility study for an intercity high-speed bus line along the New York State Thruway.

The concept for a rapid transit system connecting Upstate New York metro areas from Buffalo to Albany is not new. However, the current study, sponsored by the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, would feature an articulated vehicle – as opposed to a rail line – that uses the thruway corridor as an existing right-of-way.

The capstone studio in the BA in Environmental Design program at UB is taught by Jeffrey Rehler, an adjunct instructor in urban planning. The final deliverable will be a series of design and policy recommendations for the transit line. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo, which has also invited urban planning students from Cornell University to consider other aspects of the project, will incorporate the results into its overall feasibility study of the project.

In addition to improving travel time to the state capital, project leaders are seeking to increase transit integration with local networks across key upstate cities, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany.

Recommendations will consider existing conditions in the project area, precedents and best practices in bus rapid transit, competing transit modes, and the social, economic and environmental implications of an upstate transit line.

Students will consider a range of BRT scenarios, including areas served, connections to other networks/modes, operational attributes, station design, vehicle design, corridor design, and implementation considerations.

The concept of a high-speed "Road Train" was recently featured on WBFO in an interview with Tim Tielman, Executive Director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture, joined WBFO. Listen to the interview