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Big hearing Wednesday on MTA's Able-Ride cuts

What is expected to be the largest public meeting to date regarding the MTA's looming cuts to its Able-Ride bus service for disabled riders in Nassau is set for Wednesday in East Meadow.

Nassau Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) organized the public hearing being held at 3 p.m. in the auditorium of the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Jacobs said she expects more than 150 people to attend, including county and state lawmakers and litigants in a lawsuit filed against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to stop the proposed cuts.

The planned cuts, which would not take effect before May 28, would eliminate door-to-door service for people who live more than three-quarters of a mile from an existing Long Island Bus route. Some of the communities affected are Syosset and parts of Bayville, Glen Cove, Hicksville, Old Bethpage, Oyster Bay, Plainview and Westbury.

Jacobs said she hopes MTA officials, who she invited to the hearing, will hear ideas on other ways to come up with the $1.5 million that would be saved from the "unacceptable" cuts to Able-Ride.

"These are not normal services. They are services that give people a productive life," Jacobs said. "The MTA needs to find a short-term fix before they find a long-term solution."

Robert McGuire, executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said he hopes the hearing will spread awareness about the problem. But he said he is not optimistic that it will lead to the MTA's reversing its course.

"There's not a sense that they want to do anything other that the cuts that they've planned," McGuire said.

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