Riders Demand Better Service From Privatized Buses in Nassau

The Long Island Bus Riders’ Union released a set of rider-oriented demands on February 21, the day before Nassau County’s new private bus service provider, NICE Bus, announced cuts to 30 routes, contrary to recent promises.

Here are some of our demands:

1. Maintain constant supply of bus schedules at terminals, bus stops, and on buses

2. Maintain multilingual communication and audible announcements to riders

3. Maintain “Request-a-Stop” late night service on NICE Bus, as existed on the Long Island Bus

4. Expand late night and Sunday service and maintain off-peak hours

5. Stabilize fares at $2.25 for NICE and $3.75 for Able-Ride for five years

6. Restore routes cut by the MTA and implement no service cuts

After our press conference, Michael Setzer, the CEO of NICE’s parent company Veolia Transportation, “agreed with the recommendations and [is] working to address them.”

We are relieved to hear that our report, From Privatization to Discrimination, is being taken seriously by Veolia and that Setzer is willing to take our recommendations into consideration. At recent community meetings about the service cuts, we were pleased to note that a Spanish translator was made available for Spanish-speaking riders. We welcome the support of NICE Bus in implementing our proposed changes, and we hope to be able to work with the company as the process continues.

But what about the service cuts? We are calling for better service in Nassau County because we believe that bus riders deserve better service. This week’s service cuts, particularly those that involve cutting all weekend and evening service and decreasing the frequency of routes; will have a drastic impact on some Nassau County bus riders. Sixty percent of all routes are impacted by the changes. Veolia needs to acknowledge that riders will be profoundly (and negatively) affected.

Nassau County is not unique. All across the country, local governments are trying to find ways to stretch dollars. But saving a dollar today by cutting public transportation is not a long-term solution to a budget deficit. A healthy economy needs a healthy public transportation system. If Nassau County were to increase its subsidies into NICE bus and actually support bus riders, we could be making a safe investment, not just for people who take the bus, but for the millions of Nassau County residents who rely on bus riders.

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