A Nassau lawmaker wants to postpone the county’s planned elimination of several NICE Bus routes earlier this month, arguing that displacing hundreds of bus riders in frigid winter temperatures would be cruel.
Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) gathered with bus riders and advocates at an Elmont bus stop Thursday to call on Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to impose a moratorium on the Jan. 17 service cuts until April, when the weather is warmer. The postponement would also give the county more time to renegotiate its contract with NICE’s private operator, Transdev, or to come up with new ways to fund the struggling system.
“It’s very cold — frigid cold — in these upcoming days, and I’m asking the county executive to please have mercy on these commuters,” said Solages, standing at Meacham Avenue and Hempstead Turnpike, an important transfer point for riders of the N2/N8, one of 11 Nassau Inter-County Express routes pegged for elimination.
The cuts, combined with a 25 cent fare increase for cash customers that took effect Sunday, are expected to generate $4.3 million — shrinking a deficit of $7.5 million. NICE has said the cuts target routes carrying relatively few riders and will affect 0.1 percent of NICE’s ridership.
But bus rider Judy Sanford-Guise, of North Valley Stream, noted that those people who do use the endangered routes need them desperately. “This is not just ‘OK. They can take a cab,’ ” Sanford-Guise said. “People who are riding buses in Nassau County are not doing it because they really enjoy it.”
Sam Littman, attorney for the Nassau Bus Transit Committee, which oversees NICE, said that while county officials “understand the inconvenience it presents to a handful of riders, alternate routes are available.”