Could Cuomo’s Budget Bring More Bus Service to Long Island?

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget delivers good news for Long Island’s bus riders. If adopted by the Legislature, downstate bus systems would share $23.5 million in increased transit operating funds. An analysis of the new transit funding in the executive budget, conducted by the New York Public Transit Association (NYPTA), found that this 9.16% increase in downstate transit funding would break out to an additional $5,170,000 for the Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) system and $2,011,100 for the Suffolk County Transit (SCT) system.

STOA Appropriations – FYE 2014 Executive and FYE 2013 Enacted Budgets

Line Item

FYE 2014

FYE 2013

Change

% Change

 

 Executive

Enacted

 FYE14 – FYE13

FYE14-FYE13

Nassau

61,601,500

56,431,000

5,170,500

9.16%

Suffolk

23,960,700

21,949,600

2,011,100

9.16%

 

These increases may not seem like a lot, but this small jump in funding could go a long way towards improving the SCT system and better protecting NICE riders.

Elected officials in Suffolk County, a Suffolk County commission and numerous advocacy groups, as well as Newsday’s editorial board, have called for the expansion of Sunday bus service in Suffolk County. This funding can help SCT take the first steps towards seven day-a-week service, and expand evening service in response to growing demand.

With the NICE Bus Transit Committee set to vote on fare hikes on February 13th, the $5 million in the Governor’s budget could possibly offset the need for a fare hike, or when coupled with the $4 million generated from the likely fare increase, could restore the over $7 million in service cuts that riders endured over the past year. These cuts have led to a roughly 4% decrease in ridership through November.

This funding is hardly a guarantee.  It requires the advocacy of Nassau and Suffolk County and State legislators to ensure that Long Island’s bus riders see more and improved service.

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