Passengers decry MTA Able-Ride cuts as they take effect

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Disabled passengers in parts of Nassau County went without an affordable mode of public transport under MTA cuts finalized Thursday.

For Geraldine Flynn, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, the cuts mean she's unsure when she'll next be able to visit her 88-year-old mother at a Lynbrook assisted living facility.

A $1.2-million cut stopped all Able-Ride services to and from locations more than three-quarters of a mile from a fixed Long Island Bus route. The cuts were phased in but took final effect Thursday.

"It's like cutting off your life," said Flynn, 54, of Point Lookout.

The cuts mainly affect northeastern parts of the county. In Oyster Bay, Pablo Cruz, 61, said he has no way to get to his dialysis treatments in Syosset without Able-Ride. Cruz, who is legally blind, had been using the service for his thrice-weekly appointments. He said he can't afford a taxi, and he has no idea how he'll get to his next appointment on Monday.

"If I can't get dialysis, one day I'm going to die," Cruz said. "It's a big problem. I pray to God for a miracle."

Disability advocates had hoped such a miracle would occur.

Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) said she met with MTA and county officials on Wednesday to try to extend the service for at least another six months, if not a year, and is hopeful an agreement can be worked out by June 15.

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"I would like to feel within two weeks we'll have it done," Jacobs said.

MTA spokesman Jerry Mikorenda said 10 percent of its call volume Thursday was from people seeking details about the cuts or trying to book a ride in affected areas.

He said the agency had "tremendous empathy" for those affected by the cuts. "At the same time, there is a huge financial gap in Long Island Bus' budget that has severely impacted our ability to subsidize this service," he said.

Angela Davis, 56, of Hempstead, who has cerebral palsy, said she was brought to tears Thursday morning when she found out the cuts went through.

"We're still fighting," said Davis, also a member of the Nassau County Human Rights Commission.

"I just wish that the MTA could be disabled for a day and see what it's like," she said.

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