Nassau County is adding three trips and five new, bigger buses to the on-demand Flexi route in Elmont and Valley Stream, transit officials said Monday.
The new schedule, which goes into effect Sunday, expands service with two new buses at 4:50 a.m. and another 7:45 p.m. trip. The extra trips will give Flexi passengers more opportunities to connect to the N6 bus on Hempstead Turnpike, the busiest route for the Nassau Inter-County Express bus system.
Right now, NICE buses stop at eight designated locations and at Long Island Jewish-Valley Stream Hospital if a rider requests service two hours in advance. The route begins at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream and travels north toward Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont.
"We have heard our bus riders and are delivering for them," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Monday at a news conference at the Valley Stream Long Island Rail Road station. "It's vital we accommodate our riders' commuting needs and encourage growth in ridership."
The Flexi service began in 2016, replacing the N2 and N8 buses, which were eliminated in a cost-cutting move by the administration of former County Executive Edward Mangano.
Since the route launched, ridership has doubled to approximately 400 daily riders or about 2,000 per week, officials said.
"This bus helps people get to work," said Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont), noting that many home health aides rely on the service. "It helps people get to school. This is what the community has been asking for."
NICE also has purchased five new Ford E350 buses that can accommodate 30 passengers — 22 seated and eight standing, said company chief executive Jack Khzouz. The existing 24-foot Arboch-model cutaway bus can accommodate 20 riders, 14 seated and six standing.
The new 28-foot buses cost about $100,000 each and are funded through NICE's capital budget, which includes county, state and federal dollars, he said.
"It's really about listening," Khzouz said. "It's about economic development — providing those solutions for the county in an innovative and new way."
NICE's old Flexi buses will be used as part of Able-Ride, Nassau’s door-to-door paratransit service for the disabled.
Flexi routes run from 4:50 a.m. to 9:57 a.m. weekday mornings and from 3 p.m. to 8:18 p.m. in the evenings. Fares are $2.75 one-way.