It took a dire financial deficit in the Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) Bus budget to finally persuade Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to increase the county’s contribution to the system from the state mandated minimum. But even a 70 percent increase in the county’s contribution wasn’t enough to protect riders from yet another fare increase to maintain escalating costs of existing service. This past May, NICE CEO Michael Setzer announced that NICE would be implementing a more than 10 percent increase in fares for cash-paying riders to close the funding gap. Cash paying riders are often the lowest-income riders of a system, usually purchasing fares in small increments due to limited funds. They will now pay $2.50 per ride to get to work, ironically beginning on Labor Day.
The public hearings held by the Nassau County Bus Transit Committee to discuss the fare hike were almost impossible for riders to attend.
In response, the Long Island Bus Riders Union is launching a My FAIR Increase Campaign. In recent weeks the group has been polling bus riders to see how they would like their 50 cents more per day, or $125 more per year, be invested in the system. Those demands will be delivered during a demonstration by riders at NICE headquarters on Tuesday, September 2. They will also be delivered to Nassau County officials during the next meeting of the full legislature on Sunday, September 8.