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Here, we will take a look at the Niagara Frontier Transit System, a product of a 1950 reorganization of the bankrupt International Railway Company. As such, this company constituted the largest component of what would evolve into the NFT Metrobus system of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which will also be covered later on. Route lists, rosters, and other information will be presented showing how the NFT's bus fleet evolved from one consisting mostly of Mack buses to one consisting mostly of General Motors buses of about half a dozen models.

This company had its origins on February 19,1902 as the International Railway Company, which,itself, was the product of a merger of seven smaller companies, of which the Buffalo Street Railway Company was the largest. IRC began operating with 983 streetcars and353 miles of track. Peak ridership reached 4.3 million riders during the week of July 9,1916. Seven years later,subsidiary International Bus Company was established to operate a route on Bailey Avenue. It was one of the first motor bus lines operating in Buffalo,NY at that time. 1924 saw the IRC bus service operate with double decker buses on Delaware Avenue, thus beginning the gradual conversion of the IRC network from streetcars to buses as equipment and facilities wore out or became too expensive to maintain. 1937 saw the replacement of the Niagara Falls streetcars with buses, while the Buffalo operation operated 366 streetcars on 17 lines, and 325 buses on 10 lines, many of them Mack 25 to 36 seaters.Larger buses from Mack and Twin Coach began to replace these smaller buses by 1940, by which time, the streetcar system and facilities, though still a major mover of passengers, was in bad shape. IRC was beginning to get delivery of the larger buses when World War II broke out, requiring IRC to use everything that could turn a wheel to handle the passenger load. After the war, the IRC's debt was well in excess of the property's worth and a bankruptcy declaration in July,1947 was the result. Between 1948 and 1950, the International Railway Company lost $1 million a year. The company's reorganization was completed in 1950, at which time, the 9-Parkside,8-Main,13-Kensington,4-Broadway,24-Genesee, and 23-Fillmore-Hertel, were the last six lines still operating with streetcars. On June 1,1950, the assets of the International Railway Company were transferred to the Niagara Frontier Transit System, which bused the 9-Parkside,8-Main, and 13-Kensington Lines. On July 1,1950, the last three car lines; 23-Fillmore Hertel,4-Broadway, and 24-Genesee all went out together with considerable ceremony, thus, making NFT and all bus operation.

Table 1. 1950 Bus Fleet

Mack C37DT 1949 37 seats 3700-3759 60 buses

Mack C45DT 1949 45 seats 4500-4599 100 buses

Mack C45DT 1950 45 seats 4600-4739 140 buses

Twin 41GS 1947-48 41 seats 5001-5172 172 buses

In addition, there were also six deluxe cruiser type buses purchased for long distance charter operation. In 1954, NFT introduced radio dispatching to the transit scene and received Buffalo's first air conditioned buses in 1956. The advent of the New York State Thruway, both mainline and Niagara sections made express bus service possible. This service was first begun on August 3,1959 on the 15-Seneca,16-South Park, and 2-Clinton routes. As the expressway network developed, so did the express bus network. In addition, the Buffalo Transit Company developed express runs on its routes into downtown Buffalo as well. As the suburbs began to prosper, trouble began to brew for public transit.

Table 2. 1954-1960 Fleet Additions

Mack C49DT 1954 49 seats 6000-6029 30 buses

Mack C49DT 1955 49 seats 6100-6159 60 buses

Mack C49DT 1957 49 seats 6200-6244 45 buses

Mack C49DT 1958-59 49 seats 6300-6359 60 buses+

GMC TDH5106 1958 51 seats 7001-7059 59 buses

GMC TDH5301 1960-61 49 seats 7400-7459 60 buses

+indicates the last Macks NFT ever bought. 7400 series were the first of GM's new look design to come into Buffalo. In addition,suburban operator Buffalo Transit Company received 10 TDH5302s, each with 53 seats and numbered 340-349 out of a total order for 30 buses, which included20 TDH5301s configured to seat 55 passengers, which would have made these buses the first and only single door 'muzzle loaders'

in the Buffalo area. NFT took those over and added those to the 7400 series buses in the process of being delivered. NFT acquired control of the BTC in 1961. It was about 1964 that the operations of the Buffalo Transit Company were fully integrated into the NFT system, which, by that time, gave up its Niagara Falls bus operation.

Table 3. 1960-69 Fleet Additions

GMC TDH5301 1961 7460-7489 30 buses

GMC TDH5304 1963 7500-7449 50 buses

GMC TDH5304 1964 7550-7599 50 buses

GMC TDH5304 1966 7600-7684 85 buses

GMC TDH5404 1967 7685-7719 35 buses

GMC T6H5306 1968 7720-7744 25 buses

GMC T6H5306 1969 7745-7794 50 buses,last new buses ever ordered by NFT.


GMC TDH5106 1958 51 seats 600-629 30 buses,exBTC

GMC TDH5302 1960 53 seats,700-709 10 buses,exBTC

Mack C49DT 1958-59 49 seats 6300-6359 60 buses

GMC TDH5106 1958 51 seats 7001-7059 59 buses

GMC TDH5106 1954 51 seats 7100-7114 15 buses

GMC TDH5301 1960-61 49 seats 7400-7489 90 buses

GMC TDH5304 1963 53 seats 7500-7549 50 buses

GMC TDH5304 1964 53 seats 7550-7599 50 buses

GMC TDH5304 1966 53 seats 7600-7684 85 buses

GMC TDH5304 1967 53 seats 7685-7719 35 buses

GMC T6H5305 1968 53 seats 7720-7744 25 buses

GMC T6H5305 1969 53 seats 7745-7794 50 buses

This entire fleet was conveyed to NFTA Metrobus in 1974 upon the purchase of the NFT by the public authority.

OPERATING DIVISIONS-Post 1964. The NFT had three operating divisions, all of them located in former streetcar barns. They were as follows and routes assigned to them:

Cold Spring Division (Main and Michigan,Buffalo)




10-West Utica

12-East Untica





23-Fillmore-Hertel(some buses on this line out of Frontier Division on Military Road)



Broadway-Bailey Division







16-South Park



31-South Buffalo

Frontier Division (Military Road,Buffalo)






30-Kenmore-River Road
GMC TDH5302 1960 53 seats BTC 340-349 to NFT700-709
GMC TDH5106 1958 51 seats BTC 300-329 to NFT600-629
Since the other buses were all 45 seaters, most of those were sold off to other companies,such as Baltimore Transit
Company of Baltimore,MD which bought quite a few buses from
BTC as they were replaced with newer models. BTC was not fully integrated into NFT until about 1964, by which time
the BTC buses retained by NFT had their destination and side signs modified to conform to NFT operating practices and were both renumbered and repainted into the then current NFT cream and red paint scheme.

Here is a link to an album showing samples of NFT bus schedules: