An N47 Long Island Bus turns onto Hempstead Turnpike in...

An N47 Long Island Bus turns onto Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

A transit advocacy group Wednesday appealed to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to rescue Long Island Bus as the Nassau-owned transit system faces the likelihood of the deepest service cuts in its history.

Ryan Lynch, spokesman for the nonprofit Tri-State Transportation Campaign, spoke out at an MTA board meeting in Manhattan, pleading for a bailout of LI Bus, which transit officials say could run out of money as early as April unless service is reduced drastically.

"Governor Cuomo, are you really going to let one of the nation's largest bus systems flounder and possibly disappear?" Lynch asked. "The future of LI Bus is unclear and hangs in the balance. Governor Cuomo, please help."

Cuomo's office did not respond to a call for comment.

LI Bus is owned by Nassau but for years has been largely subsidized by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the system under contract.

Last year, the MTA announced that it no longer would make up for the funding shortfall of Nassau, which contributed just $9 million to LI Bus' $140-million annual budget. MTA officials have said they need an additional $26 million to keep service at existing levels.

MTA chairman Jay Walder Wednesday would not say whether the transit authority is making plans to cut bus service in Nassau County. The MTA would have to hold a public hearing in Nassau before enacting any service cuts.

"We're still formulating plans for Long Island Bus," Walder said. "Clearly there remains a disconnect between the available funds from the county and the service being provided."

Lynch also called upon state lawmakers in Nassau to come to the aid of LI Bus' 31 million annual customers, "many of whom are your constituents, will lose their transportation to work, school, and doctors' visits if you don't help."

Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) who heads the Senate Transportation Committee, noted Wednesday that the state already is LI Bus' largest contributor, with more than $52 million in annual funding.

"I am hopeful that both Nassau County and the MTA will work together to reach an agreement to keep Long Island Bus operating for the many Long Islanders who depend on its services," Fuschillo said.

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