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Transit advocates slam proposed LI Bus cuts

Transit advocates outraged with the proposed cuts to Long Island Bus Thursday took their message to its riders.

At the Hempstead Transit Center, members of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign handed out hundreds of leaflets to commuters, encouraging them to contact state Sen. Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington) and Nassau County Executive-elect Edward Mangano and tell them to push to restore cuts in state and county aid to the bus company.

"People need to let our elected officials in Albany know that we're not going to stand for these cuts - that we need service preserved," said Kate Slevin, executive director of the nonprofit agency that advocates for less dependence on cars. "Without preserving the existing service, you're going to strand some people."

Mangano could not be reached for comment Thursday. Johnson said Thursday that he supports "a strong regional bus system.

"I share in the frustration that the MTA's knee-jerk reaction to everything is to threaten service cuts or raise fares," Johnson said. "A massive restructuring of this authority needs to happen."

The MTA board on Wednesday approved a host of service cuts throughout the transit system, including the elimination of eight LI Bus lines. MTA officials have said they targeted lines with the smallest ridership.

"It's important to keep in mind that these proposed reductions are still under review and are subject to change as they go through the public hearing process," Long Island Bus spokesman Jerry Mikorenda said in a statement.

Several morning riders at the Hempstead terminal, from which 21 LI Bus lines operate, said they were surprised and disgusted by news of the cuts.

"It's going to get tougher to ride Long Island Bus," said Natalie Wilson, 35, of Valley Stream, who rides the bus each day to get to her classes at Hunter Business School in Levittown.

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