There is a glimmer of hope for disabled Nassau residents who lost their Able-Ride bus service, as MTA officials have said they will consider restoring recently enacted cuts if Nassau County can come up with $900,000, according to MTA and county officials.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently discontinued door-to-door service for Able-Ride customers traveling to or from a location further than three quarters of a mile from an existing Long Island Bus route. The cuts left several Nassau communities, including Syosset, Bayville and Lido Beach, without service.
Transit officials said the cuts, which would save the agency $1.2 million a year, were necessary as the MTA battles an unprecedented fiscal crisis.
But at a meeting with county representatives earlier this month, MTA officials said they would consider temporarily restoring the Able-Ride cuts, said Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) and MTA board member Mitchell Pally, who both attended the meeting.
Doing so would require an additional $900,000 - the cost to keep the service running until the end of the year.
However, LI Bus spokesman Jerry Mikorenda said that "there was nothing agreed to" at the meeting. He said that any agreement would have to address the overall funding needs of LI Bus, which is owned by the county.
Pally said that while long-term funding issues for LI Bus were discussed, he and other MTA representatives agreed to address Able-Ride's specific needs if possible right away.
"If we could solve the short-term issue, then we're going to try to solve that," said Pally, who added that it remains unclear whether the county will be able to come up with the money needed. "The likelihood of that, I leave to them. They said they were going to make the effort."
Jacobs said that it is unlikely that Nassau will come up with the full $900,000, but she hopes to tap into some county funds that were initially earmarked last year for Long Island Bus, then diverted into county reserves.
Jacobs said she has also asked state and federal lawmakers to pitch in. "It's a good starting point," she said.
Jacobs said restoring the cuts through the end of the year would buy time for MTA and county officials to find more permanent funding solutions for Able-Ride.
Those could include contracting taxi companies to transport some customers and selling ads on Able-Ride vehicles.