Riders board a Long Island Bus at the Hempstead Terminal...

Riders board a Long Island Bus at the Hempstead Terminal Center (September 15, 2011) Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The people of Nassau deserve to know what's in the county's Long Island Bus contract with Veolia Transportation, and whether their legislators support the deal, before they vote in next week's elections. County officials, though, don't seem to want that to happen.

That suggests the administration doesn't expect voters who care about buses to be happy with the contract.

From the start, the deal to take over the system from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Jan. 1 has been a nightmare of platitudes and secrecy. Voters don't know on what basis Veolia's offer was judged better than the other two bidders, what level of service Veolia will provide down the road, or how stable fares will be. The county didn't make good on its promise to make a contract public by August.

Now officials claim variously that Veolia has signed the contract, that lawyers are still going over it, and that it cannot be released because the cover and the summary aren't done. Voters don't know what effect it had on the process that Park Strategies vice president Robert McBride, a consultant aiding Veolia with its bid for the LI Bus contract, is also a prominent GOP supporter who threw a fundraiser for County Executive Edward Mangano.

The only certainties are that the deal has been handled in a clumsy and secretive manner, the MTA won't be running the buses after Jan. 1, and the Mangano administration will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid informing the people it serves. hN