The electronic sign on the front of the N93 bus might as well say, "Welcome aboard, Patrick."
That's because, among the many low-ridership trains and buses pegged for elimination in the MTA's latest "doomsday budget," none is more scarcely traveled than Long Island Bus' "Nassau Hub Shuttle."
The bus line, which originates at Roosevelt Field and runs a loop through Garden City, Uniondale and Hempstead, runs twice a day and has an average weekday ridership of one or two riders per trip. On Saturdays, ridership doubles.
Its only regular rider is Patrick Lubin, 48, of Hempstead, who takes the bus after work in Garden City most days to get a cup of coffee at Roosevelt Field mall.
"It comes at the right time. It picks up nobody. There are not many stops. So it is good for me," said Lubin, an administrative worker.
MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said the N93 may be "the most egregious example" of a line that has outlived its usefulness. The cost per weekday rider, paying $2.25 for a ride, on the N93 is about $130 per weekday for the MTA. In total, the agency plans to save $49,000 a year by eliminating the route.
"It just makes good business sense," said LI Bus spokesman Jerry Mikorenda, who said the N93 should probably have been eliminated regardless of the MTA's current fiscal crisis.
The N93 line was added about 15 years ago to provide frequent service to people visiting various stops around the Nassau Hub commercial area, including Museum Row, Roosevelt Field, and Fortunoff, which is now out of business.
It originally ran every 15 minutes during the day, and 20 minutes at night. In exchange for transporting customers to and from their establishments, some businesses along the route once helped subsidize the line, Mikorenda said.
But over the years, ridership dwindled, businesses stopped chipping in, and service was scaled back. Currently, the N93 runs twice a day - at 12:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. - out of Roosevelt Field on Monday through Saturday. Other more heavily traveled lines, including the N16 and N35, follow routes similar to the N93 and run more frequently.
In the first two weeks that Long Island Bus operator Wilfred Previlone drove the N93 bus, he picked up exactly one passenger.
Beginning his third week on the route on Feb. 1, Previlone navigated the new, empty $400,000 Orion VII along Stewart Avenue, pulled into and out of the parking lot of the Nassau County Human Services building without a soul getting on or off, navigated through the Nassau Coliseum and Uniondale Marriott unnoticed.
On its way back, the bus stopped for one man who stepped aboard at Stewart Plaza.
"Does this go to Hempstead?" the man asked. Previlone told him no, the man stepped off, and the vacant N93 went on its way.
LOW-RIDERSHIP LINES PROPOSED FOR ELIMINATION
N93 / Area served: Uniondale, Hempstead, Garden City
Average weekday daily ridership: 2
Average passengers per trip: 1
Total cost per passenger to MTA: $130.15
Net annual savings by eliminating line: $49,000
N14 / Area served: North Rockville Centre
Average weekday daily ridership: 55
Average passengers per trip: 4
Total cost per passenger to MTA: $12.75
Net annual savings by eliminating line: $99,000
N17 / Area served: Rockville Centre, South Hempstead, Hempstead
Average weekday daily ridership: 210
Average passengers per trip: 8
Total cost per passenger to MTA: $7.63
Net annual savings by eliminating line: $187,000
N28 / Area served: Roslyn
Average weekday daily ridership: 150
Average passengers per trip: 7
Total cost per passenger to MTA: $6.24
Net annual savings by eliminating line: $101,000
N53 / Area served: Merrick
Average weekday daily ridership: 45
Average passengers per trip: 5
Total cost per passenger to MTA: $19.44
Net annual savings by eliminating line: $130,000
Source: Long Island Bus