LI Bus is Lifeline, Riders Tell Nassau and MTA

Hundreds came to a 7-hour public hearing last night on the future of Long Island Bus.

Despite hail and freezing rain, over 500 people came to last night’s hearing on the future of Long Island Bus, held at Hofstra University’s Adams Playhouse for 7 hours. The hearing covered plans to cut 25 of the system’s 48 routes, as well as the possibility that Nassau County may cancel its agreement with the MTA, which runs the system.

The county pays just $9.1 million of the system’s budget, with the MTA paying about $25 million and the state covering the rest. Nassau now wants to cut bus funding further and have a private operator take over the system. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano did not attend the hearing. If he had, he would have heard rider after rider explain, in personal terms, how essential the bus system is to a functioning Nassau County. Newsday reports:

At the more than seven-hour hearing, college students, low-income mothers, senior citizens and disabled customers offered sometimes tearful accounts of LI Bus’ vital role in their lives. Kevin Christman, who has cerebral palsy and works as a teacher assistant in Roosevelt, said losing his bus is “unimaginable.”

“You can’t cut these services, because people like myself won’t be able to work, won’t be able to see our doctors,” said Christman, 28, of Wantagh.”Then we will be a drain on the county.”

Lorenzo Simpson, student government president at Nassau Community College, said the proposed cuts would affect thousands of students — many of whom chose the college because of its accessibility by public transportation.

Simpson quoted one student as saying, “If you cut the buses, my college career would be over.”

Business cards urging bus riders to call the county executive's office were passed out at last night's hearing.

Though the county executive did not attend the hearing, a poster of Mangano, brought to the podium by Tri-State’s Ryan Lynch, was booed by the audience. Advocates also passed out cards urging bus riders to call Mangano’s office.

Tri-State executive director Kate Slevin offered a reality check on the county’s privatization plan in her hearing testimony. “Simply put, County Executive Mangano is dreaming… no other system in the country does what Mangano wants to do.” Westchester County contributes $33 million to its Bee-Line system; Suffolk pays $24 million for Suffolk County Transit. But Nassau officials have suggested the county would pay just $2 to 4 million for a private system.

Advocates, workers, and bus riders rallied and held a press conference before the hearing.

“Privatizing the bus system while contributing nothing, or very little, to its operations has been proven time and time again to be a loser for bus riders and workers,” said Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director of Long Island Jobs with Justice.

“Hundreds of LI Bus workers are set to lose their jobs for lack of a transit option,” said John Durso of the LI Federation of Labor. “In addition, untold numbers of riders could lose their jobs, and small and large businesses alike could suffer from employees not being able to get to work, earn income and use that to invest back in Long Island communities.”

The proposed cuts will almost certainly be voted on at the MTA’s next board meeting in April. If the county and MTA don’t come to an agreement, the cuts will happen this summer. Several bus riders who called the county executive today told advocates that they were hung up on without being transferred to a staff member (it’s not clear whether this was intentional, or a sign that the county switchboard has become overloaded).

Images: Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

5 Comments on "LI Bus is Lifeline, Riders Tell Nassau and MTA"

  1. Michael Cairl | March 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm |

    Of course the County Executive didn’t attend. His mind is made up, and anyway (a) the people who ride the buses didn’t vote for him; (b) with an emergency financial control board effectively running Nassau County, there isn’t much for him to do these days.

  2. Joseph Coppola | March 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm |

    Of course MR REPUBLICAN did not attend. Why would the low life attend? He is out spending his NASSAU COUNTY PENSION while DOUBLE DIPPING with his NASSAU COUNTY SALARY!!!!!!!!

    Riding around in his chauffer driven town car eating dinner at all the fancy LI & Manhattan eateries on the taxpayers dime!!!!!!!!!!!

    What a piece of trash he is!!!

    Well you get what you pay for when you elect a REPUBLICAN!!!! You get a BIG FAT ZERO for the general population!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Joseph Coppola | March 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm |

    What we all need to do is go to Eddie Munsters office and protest 24 – 7 and go to his home as well and do the same until he changes his mind.

    Oh wait a sec here, GOP’ers NEVER “flip flop” on an issue, yeah sure, LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Good bye LI Bus, sob!

  4. I just called Mangano’s office and got through. The person I spoke to brought up how the County pays the payroll tax. I said that Westchester and Suffolk also do that and do not get ANY help from MTA for busses. She seemed surprised.

  5. It so sad shameful that we are living in country where lower and working class families get bullied, while losers (felonies) and rich wealthy people like Mangano and other governor (majority are mostly liars) gets better treatment and living off taxdollar from poor and hard working people like us whom struggle to make ends meet and using public transportation to live a descent life. This latest service cut is scheme. The MTA and Mangano is minipulating this whole thing out and lying to our faces. Lets start with MTA. In Sept 2009 MTA Announced $400 billion deficit, right? Then three months later in Dec 2009 another $400 billion deficit, making up total of $800 billion in three months. That is extremely huge chuck of Money that u and I will never own or see in our lifetime. Now, does this Make any Sense? NO! if the MTA Had $400 deficit in Sept and this statement turn out to be truth, then where the hell that another $400 came from within three months period?. To me, THAT IS A LIE!, I say that someone whom working on the MTA Book is STEALING, not mentioned that how fare hike we had recently in the last 10 years. As for Mangano, of course he didnt came to the meeting, he just dont have the balls and guts to be man enough to tell us why and how Nassau ran out money that causes this latest chaos. And that make him a LIAR as well. Do the math. The results will shows that there is extensive amount of money is missing.

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