Modified: November 10, 2016 12:54pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz expressed his objection to a proposed Bank of America branch closure recently in an October 28 letter to the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Poloncarz decried the proposed closure of the branch at 2221 Seneca Street in Buffalo, which is situated in a low- to moderate-income (“LMI”) census tract and would have significant negative impacts including increased travel time to the next closest branch, limited banking options, and an overall loss of financial services for South Buffalo residents.
“Residents in communities such as this are statistically more likely to do than banking in person, rather than online, and many of these customers travel by foot or public transportation to access banking services at this branch. The branch at 2221 Seneca Street is also located along one of Buffalo’s main transportation routes, underscoring the need for a banking option at that site,” said Poloncarz. “Closure of this branch would deprive this community of basic banking services, such as access to a bank of America ATM, and would force them to go several miles for the next closest branch or incur ATM fees by using a non-Bank of America ATM. This move would penalize hard-working residents by making it more difficult, in a number of ways, to access their money.”
In his letter, Poloncarz also noted the largely non-competitive nature of the Buffalo-Niagara region’s banking market, roughly 80% of which is controlled by M&T and Key banks.
“Switching banks is not a good option for these residents as banking competition has dipped significantly, especially in LMI communities,” he added. “Both of these market-dominating banks have branches nearby, but no other banks do. This undermines consumer choice and forces customers to either switch banks or endure unnecessary hardships to stay with Bank of America. We cannot permit banks to continue to pull branches and financial services out of LMI communities, as this move would do, and I urge Bank of America to stop this disinvestment in our community by halting this proposed closure.”
The Bank of America branch at 2221 Seneca Street is slated for closure on November 15.