Days after Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano called for his resignation, MTA chief Jay Walder has sent Mangano a letter telling him that he is ready to stop operating Long Island Bus and help the county privatize its bus system.
In a letter dated Sept. 8, Walder said that MTA officials "stand ready to help" with the transition of LI Bus to a privately operated system "if the county feels that it is in your best interests."
The MTA is embroiled in a bitter funding dispute with Nassau over LI Bus, which is owned by the county but operated by the MTA. Walder, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has vowed to pull all funding from LI Bus, saying it is Nassau's responsibility to pay for its own system.
Nassau contributes just over $9 million to LI Bus' $133-million annual budget. Until about 10 years ago, Nassau made up the difference of LI Bus' budget after fare revenue and state aid. But over the years, the county has gradually decreased its subsidy.
Unless Nassau can come up with about $100 million in additional funding for LI Bus over the next four years, the system may shut down, officials have said.
Mangano has said Nassau cannot afford anything near what the MTA is asking for. He has said he is considering privatizing LI Bus as an alternative to continuing working with the MTA.
"Jay Walder's management of the MTA has been a train wreck," Mangano said yesterday. "Despite the MTA's threats to eliminate funding for LI Bus, I am committed to continuing this vital service for the 100,000 county riders."
On Tuesday, Mangano called for Walder to resign and called him a "colossal failure" since taking the post less than a year ago.
Walder said in the letter that he was "disappointed" that county officials canceled a recent meeting to discuss the transition of LI Bus to a private company. He added that the MTA is willing to continue operating LI Bus as long as Nassau meets "its full obligation" to fund the system. Walder said that under MTA management, LI Bus has cut expenses by $9 million in 2010.