Deep cuts to bus service in Nassau County took effect Sunday to close a multimillion-dollar budget gap that transit officials said resulted from a reduction in county funding.
Effective Sunday, Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE, eliminated the n36, n45, n47, n51, Rockville Centre Community Shuttle and Freeport Community Shuttle.
Service is also being reduced on the Elmont Flexi, n27, n70/71/72 and n80/81 lines.
Recent increases in state funding allowed NICE to avoid elimination of the n19, n57, n78/79 and n1 lines.
NICE officials have said they made the cuts only after exhausting internal efficiencies that saved about $5 million, including closing one of its bus depots in Rockville Centre and laying off several workers.
NICE spokesman Andy Kraus said Sunday that the bus system needs new, long-term funding solutions in order to avoid future budget crises.
“Without predictable, dedicated revenue streams, service cuts are likely in the years to come,” Kraus said. “Investment in public transit is critical to serving Nassau’s residents, grow its economy and support its businesses and institutions.”
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has said the county’s reduction to its subsidy to NICE, which has a $122 million operating budget, was necessitated by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which told the county to cut more than $30 million in discretionary funding — a pot of money that includes county bus service.
Some state and county lawmakers have pushed for the creation of a new, dedicated revenue stream to support NICE, including in the form of a portion of the MTA’s existing payroll mobility tax or from surcharges on ride-sharing services in the county, like Uber.
“While we had hoped for more relief in Albany, I am thankful to the state lawmakers who fought tirelessly to help Nassau,” Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) said in a text message Sunday. “Unfortunately, the private-public partnership designed by the Mangano administration has proven to do just that — put private before the public, and the county needs to get their priorities straight and stop cutting routes when they could be cutting NICE bus profits.”
Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview), who rode a NICE bus recently to call attention to the impending cuts, said he was disappointed that the county couldn’t come up with funds to close the remainder of the bus system’s $6.8 million shortfall.
“The Mangano administration — they don’t seem to be too concerned about the working class people, the elderly and the students who are impacted by these devastating budget cuts,” Drucker said.
“The County Executive fully funded bus operations and county legislators should have passed his budget as it would have prevented service cuts,” Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Sunday. “As for Solages, he must have forgotten that the MTA planned to eliminate 50 percent of Nassau’s routes.”
With Nicole Fuller