Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority


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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
Capital Planning

Issued: April 01, 2016
Link to full audit report 2015-S-37
Link to 90-day response


To determine whether the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) has complied with the capital planning requirements of the Public Authorities Law and whether its capital plans ensure the highest priority facility needs are adequately addressed. The audit scope period is January 1, 2012 through October 30, 2015.

The NFTA is a multi-modal transportation authority responsible for air and public transportation in Erie and Niagara counties in New York State. NFTA businesses include a bus, light rail, and paratransit system and two international airports. NFTA records show it owns more than 3,700 capital assets costing approximately $1.6 billion. The Public Authorities Law requires NFTA to prepare a five-year capital plan, along with annual capital spending plans. NFTA’s fiscal 2015-16 capital spending plan totaled $68.7 million.

Key Findings

  • During our audit period, NFTA prepared multi-year and annual capital spending plans as required by the Public Authorities Law. However, it could not demonstrate that these plans definitively addressed its highest priority capital needs.
  • Of NFTA’s 3,700 capital assets, 685 (19 percent) originally costing $184 million were not in a state of good repair, including: buses and light rail cars; light rail stations and bus shelters; NFTA’s radio and train control systems; its rail station escalators; and the light rail’s catenary system, which provides power for the trains through overhead wires. Further, NFTA could not demonstrate that the vast majority of these assets were given consideration for replacement or reconditioning or otherwise addressed in capital plans.
  • NFTA management does not maintain documentation to support the reasons behind their determination of projects selected for improvement, projects that are deferred, and projects denied funding in capital plans. Also, they have not established a documented system for ranking capital assets by importance, nor a schedule of replacement based on asset condition.

Key Recommendations

  • Require divisions to consistently prioritize projects submitted for the capital plan, per established NFTA guidance.
  • Maintain documentation for a reasonable period to support the decisions submitted in the capital plan.
  • Complete the Transit Asset Management Plan that is currently in progress, keeping in mind likely future regulatory changes.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

New York State Canal Corporation: Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance (2014-S-45)
Albany Port District Commission: Select Financial Management Practices (2015-S-55)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236