Mind you, when I say "Buffalo," I mean Western New York. We're all Buffalo. Lockport is Buffalo. Niagara Falls is Buffalo. West Seneca is Buffalo. We're all Buffalo. And we all have an inferiority complex. So much so that many of you were offended when I said we're all Buffalo.
But take it as fact that we're "Buffalo." We get upset when someone mentions "Wide Right" or "No Goal." We get offended when out of towners trash Western New York (Buffalo). We get our panties in a bunch when Anderson Cooper mocks Dyngus Day. Or when people say we get too much snow.
In short, Buffalo feels disrespected by the rest of the country. But who else has been to four straight Super Bowls? No one? And we know that the 1999 Sabres are possibly one of the best hockey teams in the history of hockey teams. Buffalo's a great place to raise a family on the cheap. We have great food — including Pierogi. And ... OK. We get a little bit of snow. We have to concede that. But we're still awesome.
So if Buffalo is the Buffalo of America, Lockport is undoubtedly the Buffalo of Buffalo. We opened the east to the west. We invented fire hydrants, voting machines and integrated schools. We've had some of the brightest engineers and hardest working laborers in the world. In short, Lockport's pretty awesome.
But like Rodney Dangerfield, we get no respect.
Case in point: The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority shows us no love. None. Thursday it was learned that the 55L bus route from Lockport to Niagara Falls is being discontinued two weeks from today. If you want to get to the Falls, you need to go through Buffalo (the city) or take a couple different buses by transferring from the Niagara Rural Transportation to the 55F at Niagara County Community College.
Now, I say "Thursday it was learned" because it's the first time I'd seen it confirmed. I'd heard rumors, but I hadn't seen anything in writing anywhere. And I sure as heck didn't get a press release from the NFTA about it. Apparently, Lockport isn't worthy of press releases. Wanting to make sure I didn't just drop the ball on this huge story, I did a "Google News" search for "NFTA 55L." Zero hits. None. No one beat ENP to the punch. There was no punch. Barely a whimper, actually. Just a tiny notice on the NFTA website.
Mind you, the NFTA canceled weekend service to Lockport a few years ago. Now they're canceling Niagara Falls service to Lockport. Because, hey, who would want to come to Lockport anyway?
I'm sure when I finally get ahold of someone at the NFTA — I tried last night to no avail — they'll tell me that some algorithm says there's not enough riders to make it worth their while. Translation: "Sorry, Lockport. No one cares."
It's a shame, too, because I was just sharing with my friends on Facebook how excited I was about Lockport and the coolness of this town that I've grown to call home — despite my being born on the other side of the county. The announcement that the Erie Canal would be home to a zip line in Lockport just put me over the top. I counted out loud the cool things happening here in the Lock City. But cool or not, we're about to be an island — or at least a peninsula.
And despite our rich history coupled with our newfound coolness, Lockport maintains an inferiority complex. The announcement of the planned zip line, for example, was met with many "I'll believe it when I see it"s. It's hard to argue the point. I had the same reaction when the ice arena was announced. But Cornerstone Arena has made a believer out of me. And the rest of the great stuff going on swelled me with pride ... until the NFTA smacked us and put us back in our place; "Go over there, Lockport. No one loves you."
I don't know if it's too late to save the 55L. I don't know if enough people even care to do so. I put out calls last night to nearly a dozen politicians from Lockport and Niagara Falls to get their take on the matter. Expect an update later today. But even if they all come back and demand the 55L be reinstated, there would be no guarantee that the NFTA would care.
After all, we're just Lockport ... the Buffalo of Buffalo.
+Scott Leffler is a proud "Buffalonian" who calls Lockport home. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler. Or don't. Whatever. It's not like he has feelings.
This column was originally published on East Niagara Post.