New York— A coalition of civic, transportation, business, labor, planning and environmental groups joined together to oppose MTA cuts to Long Island Bus.
In particular, the groups called the MTA’s proposal to eliminate its funding contribution entirely to Nassau County’s LI Bus system a misguided attempt to balance its budget and a system killer. If enacted, thousands of bus riders would be left with no alternative to get to work and school, possibly forcing riders to pay for expensive taxis or lose their jobs.
“The MTA’s proposed cuts will obliterate the LI Bus system as we know it,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “These cuts could very well mean that Nassau County will not have a viable bus transit system as soon as the next few years.”
“But the MTA is not the only entity at fault,” continued Slevin. “Nassau County and the State are not living up to their obligation to fund Long Island Bus and ensure riders have affordable and reliable transit service.”
She noted that Nassau County is contributing half as much as it was in 2000. Both the County and State cut support last year resulting in the service cuts that were implemented in June.
LI Bus serves over 32 million riders a year, over 100,000 riders a day, and is an integral cog in Nassau County’s transit system, fostering economic development, reducing congestion and protecting the environment.
The groups called on the MTA to retract the proposal, and for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and state elected officials to work together to find a long term solution to Long Island Bus’ funding problems.
“If ultimately LI Bus would cease operating, it would have a devastating effect on the business community in Nassau and Queens County as well as their workforce,” said Daniel R. Perkins, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Long Island Association. “Let’s hope that the MTA, the State of New York and Nassau County can work together to find a solution so that doesn’t happen.”
“Yet another moment of crisis offers us the opportunity to rethink the way that bus service is delivered and paid for in the metropolitan region,” said Bob Yaro, President of Regional Plan Association. “The current inefficient and fragmented bus system should be consolidated into a single Regional Bus Authority, as was recommended by the Ravitch Commission. Until then, the MTA and Nassau County need to come up with solutions that don’t leave riders stranded.”
Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island said “Brainstorming can be a useful tool. However, some ideas have unintended consequences for the health and economic well being of working Nassau County residents. This is one idea the MTA should scratch from their list.”
“This is outrageous. This is a very short sided proposal. Long Island roads will be plagued by horrible congestion and people are not going to be able to get to work. The MTA cannot balance their budget problems on the backs of Nassau bus riders,” stated Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
“For thousands of working people in Nassau County, Long Island Bus is irreplaceable,” said John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “It is essential for the economic health of our region that a viable transportation system is available for people who need it.”
“These service cuts will impact over 100,000 Long Islanders who commute to and from work,” said Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director, Sustainable Long Island. “The idea is an unrealistic approach to help funding woes that the MTA faces. The people of Nassau County deserve better, they deserve available mass transit that is safe and affordable.”