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NICE eyes biggest bus improvements in years

N4 Nice Bus at the Freeport LIRR station

N4 Nice Bus at the Freeport LIRR station in Freeport. (July 19, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The largest service improvements in years may be on the way for Nassau bus riders, including new express buses on one of the county's busiest routes and the transformation of Nassau Community College into a "transit hub," NICE officials said Friday.

Nassau Inter-County Express chief executive Michael Setzer detailed the agency's plans to expand service on several lines on Sept. 1.

The proposed changes have not been finalized, said Setzer, who plans to gather feedback from riders at three community meetings scheduled next week.

Among the biggest changes are the introduction of the N4 Express, serving riders on the South Shore route -- the second busiest in NICE's system behind the N6.

Inspired by the N6 Express, introduced last year, the N4 will only make key stops between Freeport and Jamaica, relieving crowding on buses and offering a faster ride for many passengers.

The plan also calls for major service increases for Nassau Community College. Six different routes would service the Garden City campus, with buses running every five minutes during rush hour and every 10 minutes during midday, and making all stops in and around the campus.

Setzer said that while most of the proposed changes are driven by demand, part of NICE's strategy in boosting service for the college is to target young people and transform them into bus riders for life.

"They're flexible. They're less interested in driving. They're more concerned about the environment," Setzer said. "We think this is an investment in creating adult riders for the future."

NICE is paying for the improvements with about $5 million in new state aid and $3 million in new fare revenue from the recent 25-cent increase on MetroCard customers.

Charlene Obernauer, founder of the nonprofit Long Island Bus Riders Union, called the changes "a really positive thing" for NICE, which carried fewer riders last year than in 2011.

NICE's operator, Veolia Transportation, took over the bus system in January 2012 from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which previously ran it for 37 years.

"The more we look to the future of our transit system, the better it is for the future of Nassau County," Obernauer said.



NICE Bus will hold three information sessions next week to discuss service changes taking effect on Sept. 1:

Tuesday: 2-9 p.m., Garden City; NICE Levy Transit Facility, 700 Commercial Ave.

Wednesday: 2-9 p.m., Hicksville; VFW Post 3211, 320 S. Broadway.

Thursday: 2-9 p.m., Garden City; Nassau Community College, One Education Dr., CCB Building, 2nd floor.

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