Budget Woes Force MTA To Cut More Than Half of All LI Bus Lines

More than half of all LI Bus lines will be eliminated under planned service cuts. Image: Newsday.

Nassau County’s unwillingness to pay for its own buses is ending in disaster for Long Island Bus riders. The MTA has announced that it plans to cut 25 of the 48 LI Bus lines and axe weekend service on two more.

“It’s absolutely devastating,” said the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Ryan Lynch. He noted that as eight percent of Nassau County households don’t have access to an automobile, many of LI Bus’s 106,000 daily riders will be left without any way to get around. “They’re going to be stranded,” he said. “They’re going to lose their jobs. They’re going to have to drop out of school.”

According to Lynch, the routes selected for elimination generally have the lowest-ridership in the system. Some communities, such as Bethpage, Elmont, and Lindenhurst, will be left entirely without bus service.

These extremely deep cuts come because the MTA decided it could no longer continue to offer Nassau County a special deal on its bus system while the recession and Albany raids were battering its own budget.

Nassau County pays less for its bus system than Westchester or Suffolk County, and is the only one to receive MTA subsidy. Image: ##http://blog.tstc.org/2010/09/09/no-li-bus-solution-in-sight-as-nassau-mta-dispute-escalates/##Tri-State Transportation Campaign.##

For the last decade, Nassau County, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, contributed only $9.1 million a year to its bus system. The MTA covered the more than $25 million deficit that created, something it doesn’t do for any other suburban bus system. “Nassau County had a really good deal for a decade,” explained Lynch. “The MTA is in financial straits and they felt that they couldn’t support it anymore.”

After years of wrangling with Nassau County, the MTA finally decided that it could no longer afford to provide a special subsidy for Long Island Bus. Nassau County didn’t step up to replace the lost funds, forcing the current cuts.

Nassau County hasn’t publicly made any significant move to increase its funding and restore service, said Lynch. Their only plan so far has been to somehow privatize the system without providing any subsidies and take a cut of the farebox revenues, a plan Lynch said doesn’t add up.

When residents call the county and urge them to increase their contribution, said Lynch, “They tell them that it’s the MTA’s problem. They don’t think it’s their responsibility to fund the bus system.”

Given the magnitude of the cuts, said Lynch, “It’s time for Governor Cuomo and Senators Skelos and Fuschillo to step in and show they care about Long Island bus riders.” Particularly given the fact that both the Senate majority leader and transportation committee chair hail from Nassau County, Lynch said, Albany needs to either provide state funds to keep LI Bus running or help negotiate a settlement.

Lynch said a public hearing on the changes is scheduled for March 23.

  • JamesR

    Isn’t Nassau County basically in receivership right now, and is being run under the strict guidance of New York State? It’s possible that they had no say in the matter, given their terrible finances. That doesn’t make these cuts any less awful but it could shed a little light on why they are doing this.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Give Nassau County back its payroll tax revenues if it wants them, and Long Island Bus.

    Drop MTA bus service in NYC, and give NYC its payroll tax revenues along with the buses and depots.

    Etc.

    You can drop the state subsidies for buses, and shift them to the MTA, which would continue to operate rail service on its own rails rather than other entities’ roads.

  • Mangano is jumping for joy. The whipping boy, the MTA, will take severe lashing for this because the buses say MTA on them. In addition, the MTA is dumping every weak route at Long Island Bus, which means there is little left to privatize. I’m sure Jay Walder will receive a box of chocolates with an orange and blue stripe on them.

  • MRB

    Well, at least this way there is a direct line between drawn between unwillingness to pay and service reductions. If Nassau’s bankrupt, that’s also due to their insufficient taxes.

    Maybe the rest of the region will start to connect the dots.

  • JK

    A more apt headline might be “Nassau Refusal to Pay Leads to Massive Cuts at LI Bus”

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If Nassau’s bankrupt, that’s also due to their insufficient taxes.”

    Lets see here. As I tabulated, state and local taxes in Nassau County absorbed 14.0% of the considerable income of that county’s residents in FY 2007, during the last Census of Governments.

    The New York City figure was 15.9%. The national average was 10.8%.

    The only state other than New York with a higher tax burden than Nassau County was Alaska, where most of those taxes are on oil not residents and other business, and residents in fact get a check from the state.

    New Jersey’s burden was 11.8%.

    Moreover, New York is unique among states in shifting the cost of services for the poor, and their health care, to those who live in the same local taxing jurisdiction, much to the benefit of Nassau County which pays less for the poor people excluded from their communities, and the detriment of NYC which pays more for them. Even with that benefit, Nassau County taxes were high.

    And this was with no money for Long Island Bus.

  • LI Bus Operator

    Lets not forget who else will loose… not just the stranded riders. What about the bus operators who will now be laid off? MTA says there will be over 200 lay offs. Some new hires wont even have finished their probation period and will now have to look elsewhere for work.

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  • Nathanael

    Larry, it may be relevant that Nassau County specifically had the finger pointed at it during the discussion of the excessive number of “special districts” in New York State. It has many of these fire districts, sewer districts, water districts, lighting districts, and unlike some upstate counties where the districts exist only on paper, in Nassau most of these districts have highly-paid boards. Wonder why Nassau has high taxes and gets less for them?….

    Nassau County would benefit greatly from administrative consolidation of these “special districts” into the city, town, and county governments.

  • Jonn Mulry

    sad, way sad. does this mena that the bus that runs down Elmont Road will be history? when I was a kid living with my grandparents in Elmont, we would ride the Alden Terrace from Dutch Broadway to Green Acres. when I moved to Elmont to live with my grandparents, I would take that same bus to my job in Jamaica, where I worked for a year before moving to Tennessee.my parents lived in Seaford, and I would ride the old Jerusalem Avenue bus to Hempstead, or else down Washington Ave. to catch the train. so much for memory lane, but it is truly sad to see things have gotten this bad, mazel tov, folks, you’ll need it.

  • Bus Operator

    Mangano says MTA employees are overpaid. Strange, because I am at top pay and make $55,000 per year. I take home $45,000 after state and federal taxes.
    Then, PICTURE THIS, my Nassau County Real Estate tax is $10,500.
    Do the math.
    It leaves my family with $30,000 to pay the mortgage, eat, clothe ourselves, pay insurance and utlilities etc.
    MTA and Nassau County are paying us enough to stay just above the poverty line.
    Thanks, Ed Mangano! Thanks for nothing.

    How much are the teachers making? How much do all the people standing around in the libraries doing nothing making? Show some guts Mangano. Take on the teachers and the bloated education system in this county.

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