By Elijah Robinson
It was announced new routes were added to the Discover Niagara Shuttle in 2023, as part of the kick off of the summer season at Old Fort Niagara on May 26.
This year's features include an expanded route and a new discount program for Niagara County destinations. With the Discover Niagara savings pass, riders get 10% off at 30 small businesses in Niagara Falls, Lewiston, Youngstown and Lockport.
Visitors to Old Fort Niagara have been transported by the main shuttle since it launched, and this kickoff includes loops to Four Mile Creek, Devil's Hole State Park and the Erie Canal.
Sara Capen, executive director of Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, said campers who wish to bring their RVs to the fort will benefit from the connection point.
“We wanted to make it easier and help people keep their camping equipment where they’re at, and go directly to them to make it connect to here to connect to Niagara Falls,” she said.
Every year, Niagara Falls State Park Director Vincent Iacovitti said, the route will save almost 80,000 campers' time and money on driving around city streets or finding RV parking.
“It’s really a win-win for everybody. We have folks that are going to drive their personal vehicles less, it’s going to promote a healthier environment, and help to have a positive impact on the local economy,” he said.
Congressman Brian Higgins praised the fruits of the efforts, saying it serves as a beacon to the regions and all it represents.
“This is truly a great great celebration of place, of people, of history, of culture, anything that we embrace and we value as a society and a community,” he said.
The shuttles will feature artwork by late local artist Polly King, highlighting different sites in the area, including Niagara Falls, the Niagara River, Old Fort Niagara, and the New York Power Authority.
“In her lifetime, (she) painted and created over 10,000 pieces of art that depicted almost every place within Niagara County and places around the world,” Capen said. “Part of our work as a heritage area is preserving those assets, preserving those treasures.
With more things opening up and people traveling more, since the COVID-19 pandemic, these shuttles provide a convenient way for international visitors without a car to reach their destination.
John Percy, president and CEO of Destination Niagara USA, said these shuttles prepare for the international community that will visit to enjoy the treasures of the region.
“It’s great to see our international (community) starting to return,” he said. “The numbers are solid over the next couple (of) years. They’re projecting that we’ll see a return to 2019 numbers, or prepandemic numbers. We had over 130 appointments, talking to international buyers. Even pulling up today, (I saw) four L & L buses … filled with Chinese Americans out of New York City, and they bring a lot of business to this area.”
There are over 30 destinations within Niagara County served by the Discover Niagara Shuttle, including Lockport, Youngstown, Lewiston and Niagara Falls. it is complimentary, pet-friendly, and accessible to people with disabilities.
Up until June 23, the service will operate on Saturdays only. After that, it will operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Shuttle services are available until the middle of October.
From left: Niagara County Legislator Irene Myers and family of Polly King hop on the Discover Niagara Shuttle. (Photo by Elijah Robinson)