NICE Bus Sees Large Drop in Rider Satisfaction

A new report says NICE riders satisfaction with Nassau County's bus service is falling.

A new report says NICE riders’ satisfaction with Nassau County’s bus system is falling. | Photo: Newsday/John Paraskevas

At June’s Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) Bus Transit Committee meeting, NICE riders were greeted with good news about plans to use increased funding from New York State, as well as additional revenues generated from a March 2013 fare hike, for new and restored service scheduled to begin in September.

At the same meeting NICE released its Key Performance Indicators (KPI) of 2013 for January-March, providing the first opportunity to review how NICE customers see the system today versus how they viewed the system when NICE first launched last year. While there is some good news (bus breakdowns per day have dropped dramatically and the farebox recovery ratio is up slightly), the year-over-year NICE report indicates the system still has a long way to go.

According to the KPI, overall customer satisfaction dropped 18 points from 47 percent in the first quarter of 2012 to just 29 percent in the first quarter of 2013. Riders were dissatisfied in the survey’s sub-categories as well:

  • Bus cleanliness satisfaction dropped 30 points, from 48 percent to 18 percent;
  • Stop cleanliness satisfaction dropped 26 points, from 49 percent to 23 percent and;
  • On-time perception fell 13 points, from 42 percent to 29 percent.

This precipitous drop in service satisfaction comes as no surprise to riders who for the past year-and-a-half have been hit hard with fare hikes and service cuts. The survey results also bolster another indication of rider dissatisfaction: a large drop in ridership. Annual ridership fell to a 14 year low in 2012, and according to the National Transit Database, NICE ridership through June 2013–the most recent data available–is down by 5.7 percent compared to the same time period in 2012.

Save for ceding its contract fees, NICE is doing what it can with the limited funding resources it has at its disposal. The restored and new service will use just $8 million in additional state funding and fare hike revenue, showing that a relatively small amount of funding can go a long way to improve service. But in order to reverse these ridership and satisfaction trends, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and the Nassau County Legislature should follow the lead of State elected officials, who have provided roughly 20 percent more in State funding since the beginning of NICE’s tenure, and find a way to increase the County’s contribution to its bus system.

5 Comments on "NICE Bus Sees Large Drop in Rider Satisfaction"

  1. “Nice bus” should be renamed to “ridicule bus” they are the worst service possible and the union should really get their act together and improve their time schedule. You really gotta think, these so called drivers have the easiest job on them- sitting with the AC in the summer and blast heat in the winter, and they have the nerve to go on strike. I mean, let’s be real, you’re not the one outside waiting in the scourging heat or ice chill winds. Be decent and show up on time!

  2. We pay more to get ridiculous service

  3. NICE bus service is not so nice. It is not uncommon in the summer mornings for the bus driver to not turn on the a/c. Occasionally the bus is filthy with garbage too disgusting to describe. The worse time is in the evening. My bus runs one every hour in the evening. These bus drivers know that they have it made because no one is watching them. What is wrong with NICE. Why can’t they get their act together.

  4. What a jock of service the bus to glen cove have 2 hours late and the company said 45 mins more waiting what a bad and ridiculous service.

  5. Regarding my NICE experiences: The bus seats are generally clean (floors not so much) and the drivers seem courteous if greeted. However, if a card has partial money on it and is charged, the system still makes you pay the full fare on a second card. It would be extremely easy to allow bus drivers to give change back as the difference so money paid into metrocards is not lost-maybe cancelling out the first charge in the system and handing the coin difference back and taking the defunct card? Also, days after a snow storm the windows on the bus I’m riding are white- I need to watch where I am through the drivers window and listen for stops; no way to look around otherwise. The N15 at 1:25 at long beach LIRR did not come at all today (1-11-17) or left minutes early so my commute is behind schedule but the next one came on time. On route the N15 is usually close to time in fair weather, and 5/6 minutes behind in the first snow of the season, so overall it is reliable. Departing an originating stop early, double charging metro cards and having poor window visability in this fair weather are my complaints for today and all could be improved with changes to company policy.

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