It was 26 degrees and blustery Thursday when four passengers left a bus shelter missing several panes of glass at Sunrise Mall to board the N80 for its 7:37 a.m. run.
After leaving the East Massapequa shopping center, the 45-seat Long Island Bus vehicle picked up another nine riders before reaching its destination at Broadway Mall in Hicksville 40 minutes later. That was more passengers than usual, said the driver, who asked to be identified only by his nickname - "Big O."
Low ridership and the fact that the N81 route shares the same end points - although reached by a different route - is why the N80 is one route marked for extinction to offset a year-end deficit, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said.
But riders of the N80 and another seven routes targeted say they feel unfairly singled out because many of them don't have cars and need the buses to get to work or anywhere else.
"It's horrible," said Christina Nalley of Valley Stream, who takes the N80 and a second bus with her husband, Howard, to get to work as a telemarketer in Hicksville. "A lot of people don't have any other transportation."
Even though the N80 will be around at least until the summer, news of the route's elimination troubled the Nalleys and many regulars who use its hourly runs to get to work or to shop.
Most of those traveling the entire route this week said they could switch to the N81 without much disruption, though it probably would mean longer waits between rides.
But some passengers said the N81 travels too far from their destinations, so they will be forced to take taxis they can't afford, two additional bus legs, or very long walks.
After traveling west on Sunrise Highway, the bus turned north on Broadway at the Long Island Rail Road's Massapequa station and picked up Alan Shakespeare of Far Rockaway. For the past four months, Shakespeare has been taking the N80 in a circuitous commute to his job as an accounting clerk at a Bethpage manufacturing company. He takes one bus to Lynbrook, the train to Massapequa and the N80 up Route 107. With no N80, Shakespeare said, "I'd have to catch three buses," turning a two-hour commute into a three-hour ordeal. "It would be a nightmare," he said.
The Nalleys and one other passenger boarded after the bus crossed Hempstead Turnpike.
Howard Nalley is concerned about his wife, who is pregnant with their fourth child and without the N80 will be forced to walk more than a mile north on Route 107 to get to work.
His commute is worse than hers. He works as an accounting clerk for AriZona Beverage Co. in Woodbury and takes five buses to get there. Without the N80, "I'd probably have to take a cab, which would be a lot of money. I can't afford that. We have three kids. I'll have to plan a whole new strategy.
"I don't think they should be cutting this bus, because everybody needs a job," Nalley said. "And if you can't get to the job, you can't have a job."