For immediate release: October 6, 2009
Groups Call for Nassau County to Reinstate Funding for LI Bus
HEMPSTEAD—Bus riders, transit and environmental advocates gathered at the Hempstead Transit Center this morning to call on elected officials to reinstate funding to LI Bus in the 2010 Nassau County budget.
The groups, which included the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Vision Long Island, Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Progressive Coalition, joined bus riders, in criticizing Nassau County’s elected officials for failing to join them on the N41 route from Hempstead Transit Center to the Mineola Intermodal Center. Over the past week, elected officials were issued a Long Island Bus Rider challenge at county budget hearings and through phone calls and faxes. But not one legislator showed up.
“How can Nassau County’s elected officials understand the hardships facing LI Bus riders if they refuse to take a fifteen minute bus trip,” said Ryan Lynch, senior planner and Long Island coordinator of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit transportation policy watchdog organization. “The Legislature must work to reinstate funding for the nation’s largest suburban bus system in order to protect bus riders from two fare increases and drastic service cuts in one year.”
According to the most recent draft of Nassau County’s budget, funding for LI Bus was cut by approximately 27%, or $2.8 million. The groups noted that the County’s contribution to LI Bus has remained stagnant for the past decade, without even being indexed to inflation, meaning the County is actually contributing less now than it was ten years ago. Yet, last year LI Bus had an annual ridership of 33 million people, the highest ridership levels of all time.
The groups called the cuts to LI Bus regressive transportation policy.
According to the most recent census data, LI Bus riders make, on average, $20,000 less than commuters who drive alone to work and $62,000 less a year than those that commute via the Long Island Rail Road.
“Communities across Nassau County are increasingly dependent on the Long Island Bus System for transportation,” said Sarah Lansdale, executive director for Sustainable Long Island. “Sustainable Long Island urges the Nassau County Legislature to reinstate funding for Long Island Bus.”
The groups also noted that the cuts will hinder the implementation of County Executive Suozzi’s ‘New Suburbia’ and ‘Cool Downtowns’ vision, a vision that strives to curb suburban sprawl through investing development dollars in Nassau’s existing downtowns and mega-projects like the Lighthouse at Long Island.
“While we support the County Executive’s ‘New Suburbia’ vision, without a robust transit system there is nothing new about it,” said Lynch. “The County must fund its transit system to achieve its development goals.”
"We should be encouraging people to take transit, not making it more difficult and unattractive," said Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island. "These cuts will lead to poorer service, causing more congestion which hurts our economy and environment."
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.