Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is ratcheting up his campaign to privatize Long Island Bus, even as a transit advocacy group has offered recommendations on how to find the $25 million annually that is necessary to keep the beleaguered county bus system under the MTA banner.
Mangano recently sent to some residents a flier made to look like an MTA MetroCard that laid out the advantages of privatizing Long Island Bus, which is owned by Nassau but is operated and largely subsidized by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The MTA has said it no longer can afford to make up for Nassau's funding shortfalls and will pull its funding from LI Bus - a move that could result in shutdown of the system, which serves 100,000 daily riders.
In the flier, Mangano tells Nassau taxpayers that they can "no longer afford the gross mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility of the MTA." He said his plan to have a private vendor run LI Bus would protect tax dollars, provide accountability for bus service and fares and restore Able-Ride, the bus service for the disabled that was drastically cut by the MTA earlier this year.
MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said it remains "the county's choice" whether it continues its relationship with the MTA, which he said has led LI Bus to becoming "critical to mobility in Nassau County."
"We simply ask that the county fulfill its obligation to pay for the service we provide," he said.
Ryan Lynch, spokesman for the nonprofit planning and policy group the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said Mangano's "rhetoric" was not helping find a viable solution for LI Bus' riders.
"We don't know how much this flier cost, but I'm sure it cost something, and some of that money could have been used in negotiating tactics with the MTA to find a sustainable solution for Long Island Bus," said Lynch, whose group has sent Mangano specific recommendations on how to fund its bus operation.