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NICE Bus cuts to be mostly restored in June, official says

A NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) bus picks

A NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) bus picks up passengers Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 in Mineola. Credit: Chuck Fadely

Most of the NICE Bus routes eliminated earlier this year will be back as early as June, but two will not be coming back at all, a spokesman for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said Wednesday.

Under pressure from riders, advocates and Democractic lawmakers, Mangano last month announced a $3 million plan to undo the cost-cutting changes enacted by the Nassau Inter-County Express as it looked to shrink a $7.5 million budget deficit.

On Wednesday, Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin confirmed that the restorations will begin in June with the return of n80/81, which runs between Hicksville and Massapequa, and the N14/17, which serves Rockville Centre.

No later than September, the N2/8, N62, N73/74 and N51 will be restored. Most of the lines will return to their pre-elimination service levels, but some will change their routes slightly and use smaller “Flexibus” vehicles.

“These restored routes will help thousands of residents who rely on NICE Bus for rides to work, school and medical appointments,” Mangano said in a statement.

The N46, which ran between Hempstead and Bellmore, and the N50, which ran between Hicksville and Bellmore, will not return. Nevin said riders on those routes are served by alternative lines.

“I’m delighted that we could work together to restore most of the service for most of the riders who would have been stranded,” said Leg. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), who lobbied Mangano to put back the eliminated routes.

“I think we have maximized the additional county funding to best suit Nassau riders,” said county Legis. and presiding officer Norma L. Gonsalves.

Nevin said the $3 million, which came from a surplus in county sales tax revenue, would fund the restored routes through March 31, 2017.

Aaron-Watkins Lopez, an organizer for the nonprofit Long Island Bus Riders Union and a member of the Nassau Bus Transit Committee, which oversees NICE, said that while he was gratified with the restorations, he wishes he and other riders would have had more say in the plan.

“We’re happy that the bus service is being put back. But it means nothing if you do not have public input,” Watkins-Lopez said.

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