How to get from BUF (Depew) to Niagara Falls Canada Side?

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Hello, My wife and I planned out CHI to Niagara Falls, ON, vacation package in 2020, but got delayed due to COVID. We have it rescheduled for 1st week of OCT 2022. Travel from BUF to the hotel on the Canadian side was provided in the package pre-COVID, but now AMTRAK leaves it up to you. So I'm looking for suggestions on how best to get from BUF to the hotel on the Canadian side (Oakes Hotel Overlooking the Falls).

We arrive in BUF ~ 9AM , and 4 days later, depart BUF just after midnight.

Can we count on UBER? Is that much cheaper than Taxi? I see taxi service from the airport to Niagara Falls, ON at ~ $110 (private car, not per-person, only about $10 less if they stop at border), and I just verified they will pick up from the Depew station. I can also call the hotel for suggestions, but since Amtrak customer service was no help, not sure the hotel will have good info either. On the way back, I think we'll plan to have dinner in Buffalo, so we aren't cutting it close that late at night.

This was the taxi service I found: Customer FAQ | Frequently Taxi Asked Questions )

I saw some references to taxi/UBER to the border, then walk from there (Rainbow Bridge), ~ 1.5 mile to hotel, so that's also do-able.

Though now that I was able to verufy that taxi across the border, I doubt UBER is going to be much cheaper for an ~ 45 minute ride?

Any other options? TIA.
 
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When we were there in 2019 we rented a car...Enterprise picked us up at BUF Depew station. We arrived from Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited.
We stayed in nearby Cheektowaga for several nights and drove ouselves to sightsee the falls, Erie Canal at Lockport, etc.
We continued on the Lake Shore Limited to NYC for a few more days of vacation.
 

Bob Dylan

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When we were there in 2019 we rented a car...Enterprise picked us up at BUF Depew station. We arrived from Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited.
We stayed in nearby Cheektowaga for several nights and drove ouselves to sightsee the falls, Erie Canal at Lockport, etc.
We continued on the Lake Shore Limited to NYC for a few more days of vacation.
Rent cars are hard to find, especially the Make and Model you want, and the Cost is Breathtaking compared to just using Public or Ride Share Transportation.
 
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Thanks - we already have the hotel near the falls for 4 nights, so I don't think the rent-a-car approach would work so well for us. But after checking in on the taxi service, that actually does look to fit our needs pretty well. It's like a 45 minute ride, so $110 doesn't sound out of line to me, and I can book ahead so takes some stress out of hoping to find an UBER at odd hours.
 
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Rent cars are hard to find, especially the Make and Model you want, and the Cost is Breathtaking compared to just using Public or Ride Share Transportation.
I only request a "class" of vehicle - not a specific make and model.
If the OP is only going to the falls, public transit might be better. In our case, we did a little some other exploring around the area. As far as availability goes, YMMV. I rented in October 2020 and again in July 2022 in Alexandria, VA and had no problems obtaining a (reserved) vehicle.
The base rate plus fees and taxes was certainly acceptable (to me) for the 9 days of my most recent rental.
 

danasgoodstuff

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I've taken the local bus from downtown Buffalo to the US side of the falls and walked over, I assume you can get a bus from Depew to downtown. Alternatively, you could take the Maple Leaf from Buf Depew or downtown to Niagra Falls ON if it works for your schedule. For the price of that Uber, you could stay in downtown Buf for a night and eat a decent meal. I assume you've got ArriveCan and other border issues sorted.
 
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If you plan to cross the border in a "taxi-like" vehicle simply use a licensed taxi - not Uber or Lyft. That applies in both directions. The reasons are well-documented in other threads here and in other travel forums, with the basic reason being that taxi drivers on both sides of the border are trained in crossing procedures and will have the necessary documentation to ensure that they (and you) will not be detained. That doesn't exempt you from completing any advance formalities required, but will reduce the possibility of an "encounter" out of your control.

If you do decide to walk across, the Oakes is a bit of a hike from the bridge so if you're not committed to it you may want to consider a closer hotel. You will pass several better hotels on the way (IMHO).
 

fdaley

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The Depew station is well outside Buffalo and not really within walking distance of any restaurants or stores. I recall years ago taking a city bus from there to downtown, although this required hiking south from the station to the next major east-west thoroughfare, and the bus service was not frequent. Switching from the eastbound Lake Shore to the westbound Maple Leaf would require a layover of nearly six hours at Depew, which has few in-house services, and the reverse connection is more like 11 hours. So, a rental car or taxi is probably the best plan.
 

JoshP

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I would suggest wait until after Sept 30th, that way COVID restriction will end so you can travel over freely. I would suggest take bus #46 that takes you to Thruway Plaza then transfer to #6 that will take you to downtown then go to the bus terminal, take the #77 that is a express bus that will take you direct to Niagara Falls then stay hotel overnight then you can walk over on bridge. Other way is take Uber all way. Don't rent a car, its too expensive here in Buffalo. Trust me.
 

Henry Kisor

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I'm headed to Quebec City from Chicago in October 2023 (that's NEXT year, folks!) to catch a cruise through the St. Lawrence Seaway down to Fort Lauderdale via Boston. Amtrak's website does show the connection from the Lake Shore Limited to the Maple Leaf with that six-hour layover at Depew, but that's OK by me . . . so long as I don't have to fly. Question: Does Depew have a wheelchair lift? I travel with a mobility scooter and a service dog (and a spouse who helps navigate).
 
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From Amtrak's website:

Buffalo, New York​

Depew Station​

Station Details​

  • Payphones
  • Accessible platform
    Accessible platform is a barrier-free path from the drop-off area outside the station to the train platform.
  • Accessible restrooms
  • Accessible ticket office
  • Accessible waiting room
  • Accessible water fountain
  • Same-day, accessible parking is available
    Amtrak cannot guarantee that a parking space will be available at the time of your trip.
  • Overnight, accessible parking is available
    Amtrak cannot guarantee that a parking space will be available at the time of your trip.
  • No high platform
    A high platform is a platform at the level of the vestibule of the train, with the exception of two-level Superliner trains.
  • Wheelchair available
    For passengers who cannot walk far or at all, we offer a wheelchair to help move around within the station. At some stations this may be a battery-powered people mover.
  • Wheelchair lift available
 

Amtrak25

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If doing a Lake Shore Ltd to Maple Leaf transfer, I would do it in Rochester, Syracuse, or Utica. You will go batty waiting 6 hours in Depew with nothing to do, and there is nothing there.

For a bus downtown, about 2003 I walked 1.8 miles up to Genesee Street and took that bus downtown, suitcase on wheels and a backpack. Several taxi drivers honked along the way to offer me a lift. But I am a cheapskate, and waved them on. As for the NFTA bus, it was a beaten up, high floor Orion or Gillig with no AC. I was sweating bullets until I got to the bus terminal.
 

fdaley

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Yes, transferring Lake Shore to Maple Leaf at Rochester and in the reverse direction at Utica is a good idea. Both stations are downtown and you can walk to things, whereas Depew is not near anything. Syracuse isn't exactly in a pedestrian-friendly zone either, though I think I remember that there is a mall nearby.
 

railiner

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Yes, transferring Lake Shore to Maple Leaf at Rochester and in the reverse direction at Utica is a good idea. Both stations are downtown and you can walk to things, whereas Depew is not near anything. Syracuse isn't exactly in a pedestrian-friendly zone either, though I think I remember that there is a mall nearby.
Offhand, is the fare higher (duplicating mileage), doing it that way?
 

zephyr17

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Probably a little higher. The VIA Rail portion of the fare is astounding. It can be nearly as much as the fare from New York City to Niagara Falls.
I had a NFL-NYP reservation for part of my Toronto-NY trip in November before the Maple Leaf resumed service to Toronto. When the Maple Leaf resumed it's full route, I looked into just booking Toronto-Niagara Falls, NY with VIA, so as to score an additional segment on VIA Preference. The cost was quite high. Booking through with Amtrak was considerably cheaper, the fare was only like $25 more TWO-NYP than NFL-NYP was. Needless to say, I changed my Amtrak reservation instead of trying to book the missing link through VIA.

As a aside, the agent I worked with (at AGR, though it was a cash ticket), could not get it modified. Something in the entry sequence bollixed him up because he could not get the id information entered with the payment already applied so could not finalize it. He finally gave up and cancelled it with full refund and made an entirely new reservation. Later, when the Cascades resumption was in the confirmed and in the system, I called again to have my reservation for that end modified from the weird Builder-"Can't Rail" bus itinerary from EVR to the Cascades. That went entirely smoothly, likely because my international ID was already in the reservation.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Syracuse isn't exactly in a pedestrian-friendly zone either, though I think I remember that there is a mall nearby.
You do recall correctly. The short direct route is a bit unsafe. The longer route with pedestrians crossing and sidewalks takes you on a tour of the area. Literally turn west and see a entrance to the mall, but walk east up and round to stay on a sidewalk with pedestrian crossing at intersection.
 

fdaley

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I had a NFL-NYP reservation for part of my Toronto-NY trip in November before the Maple Leaf resumed service to Toronto. When the Maple Leaf resumed it's full route, I looked into just booking Toronto-Niagara Falls, NY with VIA, so as to score an additional segment on VIA Preference. The cost was quite high. Booking through with Amtrak was considerably cheaper, the fare was only like $25 more TWO-NYP than NFL-NYP was. Needless to say, I changed my Amtrak reservation instead of trying to book the missing link through VIA.

Funny, I had the opposite experience when I went to Toronto in 2018. The through Amtrak fare from ALB to TWO was about $130 one way. But I discovered that if I booked ALB-NFS on Amtrak and then got a separate VIA ticket from there to Toronto, the cost worked out to about $100 US.
 
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I had a NFL-NYP reservation for part of my Toronto-NY trip in November before the Maple Leaf resumed service to Toronto. When the Maple Leaf resumed it's full route, I looked into just booking Toronto-Niagara Falls, NY with VIA, so as to score an additional segment on VIA Preference. The cost was quite high. Booking through with Amtrak was considerably cheaper, the fare was only like $25 more TWO-NYP than NFL-NYP was. Needless to say, I changed my Amtrak reservation instead of trying to book the missing link through VIA.
Is it possible that VIA rail was quoting you a price in Canadian dollars, which are worth about 24% less than a US dollar? (which means the apparent price would be 25% higher.)
 

fdaley

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Offhand, is the fare higher (duplicating mileage), doing it that way?
When I checked a couple of random dates just now for fun, the Amtrak coach fare on the Maple Leaf from Rochester to Toronto was identical to the fare from Buffalo-Depew to Toronto. On the Lake Shore, the coach fare CHI-BUF was identical to the CHI-ROC fare. So, from a rail fare perspective, there's no added cost to making the transfer at Rochester for a traveler headed to Toronto.

Then I remembered the OP is only going to Niagara Falls, Ontario. In that case, the rail fare for two people ROC-NFS was $64 compared with only $38 BUF-NFS.

For a roomette for two on the Lake Shore, the CHI-ROC fare was $19 more than CHI-BUF for a date in November (11/8) where a lower sleeper bucket was available. For Oct. 3, where more rooms were already sold, the differential was $40.

So in this case, particularly given that the travel date is fairly soon, changing the transfer point from BUF to ROC might add some real costs.
 

Henry Kisor

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Thanks to all. I suspect that I will not be able to book on one ticket Chicago-Rochester on the Lake Shore Limited and Rochester-Toronto on the Maple Leaf, so will have to book two separate tickets. No idea what the cost will be, as I plan to make this trip in October 2023, more than a year from now. (My wife and I plan to spend two nights in Toronto and two nights in Montreal before taking a St. Lawrence Seaway cruise to Boston, returning to Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited.)

There's a four-hour wait between trains at Rochester instead of a six-hour wait at Buffalo. I'm hoping that the on-time performance of the Lake Shore Limited will be reasonable . . . and if disaster should strike and the train is very late, the conductor will let us off at Buffalo to catch the Maple Leaf.
 

zephyr17

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Is it possible that VIA rail was quoting you a price in Canadian dollars, which are worth about 24% less than a US dollar? (which means the apparent price would be 25% higher.)
Of course VIA's price was quoted in CAD. Being a frequent traveler to Canada, for VIA as well as other reasons, plus living only 80 miles from the border, I am well aware of the exchange rate between USD and CAD. A standalone VIA ticket TRTO-NIAG was around $50 CAD, IIRC. That was as close as I could get on viarail.ca, I could not get a quote to any point in the US on their website at that time, it was shortly after VIA 97/98 had been loaded back into ReserVia and they hadn't recovered all the functionality it had had pre-suspension when you could book the whole route in either system. I am not sure if they've subsequently fixed that.

That is a difference far more than the exchange rate accounts for (currently .74 USD, but it was around .79 USD when I was looking at booking. It has fallen quite precipitously in September).

I don't think VIA was offering any Economy-Escape level fares at the time on it, only straight Economy which is typically much higher (the restrictive Escape fares are often around 50% off the much less restrictive full Economy fare. Economy being VIA's general term for Coach). VIA seemed to be having a lot of trouble even getting the train up in ReserVia/viarail.ca, it didn't show up at all until the day before VIA 97/98 actually started service, about a week after Amtrak.com had it up.

The difference between Amtrak's pricing and VIA's pricing was very roughly what the difference between an Escape level VIA fare and a full Economy VIA fare would have been. But since VIA wasn't offering Escape fares at that time, I took Amtrak's fare. It was likely at or near VIA's unbookable at the time Escape tariff. Unfortunately, my receipt from Amtrak does not break out the fares between the 7097 and 64 segments of the trip so I can't do a direct comparison.
 
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