Written on: February 28, 2017
Sister Denise Roche retired in 2016 after 36 years as President of D’Youville College. In her “retirement” Sister Denise has taken on a new role in the Buffalo area as Commissioner of the NFTA Board. Here, she tells us about the mission of NFTA and the social responsibility of providing safe, reliable transportation for a community of people.
Expressed in the mission statement of the NFTA is the purpose of providing efficient, safe and reliable public transportation for the populace of the Niagara Frontier. That commitment is not an easy one to fulfill. There is the two-fold responsibility of keeping the fares affordable, so that those with limited means who depend on public transportation are able to use it frequently. Many who cannot drive or who do not own a car depend on the public transit system to get to school, jobs, stores, doctors and so forth.
On the other hand, there ought to be a safety and frequency to bus and light rail service which attends to the needs of the riders. Because public transportation is quite expensive and the efficiency of light rail and busses relies on frequent repairs and new and modern equipment, the overall budgetary and mission issues often pull in several directions.
Recently, an article in AMERICA magazine recognized the dependency of many low and middle income people on public transit, and the choices they are forced to make for living and for work because they require the use of public transportation. It also urged the consciousness of those who continue to pollute the atmosphere by the use of many cars to consider the expediency of using public transportation. Therefore, the issues facing public transportation are moral, including the environmental and service aspects of living in urban and suburban communities and our interdependency on one another.
Each week, a new circumstance needs to be addressed by the NFTA.
All of these issues are new ones for me and I am pleased to be able to put my position as commissioner of the NFTA Board in the broader and ethical questions facing public transportation, while focusing on the more immediate questions which call for action each day. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to interact with and learn from the staff at the NFTA, because they are dedicated to the mission of the organization and work tirelessly to fulfill it.