The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority board of commissioners on Monday unanimously approved the agency's 2006-2007 budget, which will increase spending to $162.1 million.

The package anticipates continued growth in revenues at Buffalo Niagara International Airport that will help offset rising fuel and health-insurance costs.
Total spending is about 8.8 percent more than the NFTA's $148.9 million 2005-2006 budget. The authority's fiscal years runs from April 1 to March 31.
The budget calls for the authority to add only six full-time positions and 21 part-time jobs to its nearly 1,600 person workforce -- including both full- and part-time employees.

It also maintains the basic Metro Bus and Rail ridership fee of $1.50 with incremental zone charges added.

Lawrence Meckler, NFTA executive director, said he anticipates bus and rail ridership to increase about 1 percent this year, due largely to rising fuel prices and an on-going marketing campaign.

"That 1 percent number may be somewhat conservative," he said.
Meckler anticipates passenger activity at Buffalo Niagara International Airport to increase 5 percent this year, bringing in slightly more than 5 million people to the Cheektowaga facility.

Meckler, however, said those estimates were made before JetBlue Airways announced plans to add three more daily flights between Buffalo and Boston and US Airways unveiled its plans to add four more daily flights between the two cities.

"We think we can beat that (the estimate)," Meckler said.