LONG ISLAND JOBS WITH JUSTICE

NEW YORK PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP

LONG ISLAND FEDERATION OF LABOR-AFL/CIO

TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION LOCAL 252

LONG ISLAND PROGRESSIVE COALITION

TRI-STATE TRANSPORTATION CAMPAIGN

NEW YORK COMMUNITIES FOR CHANGE

VISION LONG ISLAND

MTA LABOR COALITION

 

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
March 23, 2011

Contact:
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Ryan Lynch
Cell: (631) 742-7528
Office: (212) 268-7474

 Groups Call on Nassau County to Fully Fund Long Island Bus; MTA to Withdraw Proposed Cuts

HEMPSTEAD—Bus riders, transit, planning, labor, civic, business and environmental advocates gathered this afternoon at Hofstra University in advance of the MTA’s hearing on proposed LI Bus cuts to once again call on County Executive Ed Mangano and MTA Chairman Jay Walder to arrive at a deal that would stave off LI Bus cuts.

The groups, which included the Long Island Jobs with Justice, the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL/CIO, New York Communities for Change, New York Public Interest Research Group, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Transport Workers Union Local 252, Vision Long Island, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, and MTA Labor Coalition, joined bus riders and Able-Ride users, in criticizing Nassau County Executive Mangano’s failure to support the County’s bus system and for his misguided call to privatize the bus system.

“County Executive Mangano needs to get serious about the transportation crisis facing his constituents,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit transportation policy watchdog organization. “He needs to negotiate in good faith with the MTA and back off his ill-advised and unrealistic plan, to privatize one of the largest suburban bus systems in the country.”

Without a balanced funding agreement between the MTA and Nassau County, LI Bus riders face the elimination of 25 routes and Able-Ride users will see an 18% reduction in service.

"It looks like Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is playing a game with the MTA and we, the riders, are the pawns," said NY Communities for Change member Diane Goins.  "When is he going to put the riders first?"

Workers and businesses throughout Nassau County also stand to suffer due to the proposed service and funding cuts.

“Hundreds of LI Bus workers are set to lose their jobs for lack of a transit option,” said John Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. “In addition, untold numbers of riders could lose their jobs, and small and large businesses alike could suffer from employees not being able to get to work, earn income and use that to invest back in Long Island communities.”

County Executive Mangano’s response to the cuts has been a proposal to privatize the system without contributing anything. The groups called this action misguided and noted that no other system in the country has done this and still maintained the same levels of service and fares.

“Privatizing the bus system while contributing nothing, or very little, to its operations has been proven time and time again to be a loser for bus riders and workers,” said Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director of Long Island Jobs with Justice.  “The County Executive needs to come up with a realistic solution that does not balance the budget on bus riders’ backs, and one that maintains current levels of service and fares.”

“Our county executive is engaged in a high stakes game of chicken with the MTA,” said TWU Local 252 President Patricia Bowden. “The county doesn’t want to pay what it owes to MTA. MTA doesn’t want to pick up the county’s tab and in the meantime commuters, students, elderly residents, the disabled and those who for health and other reasons can’t drive are being held hostage.”

Highlighting the fact that the County and the MTA have failed to reach agreement on LI Bus funding for almost a year, the groups said the time has come to arrive at an agreement.

“This has been going on for too long,” said Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island. “We need the County and the MTA to find a way to support this system that is so important for Nassau’s economy, environment and quality of life.”

The groups said that a broad swath of Nassau County’s population will be impacted by the failure of the LI Bus system, including businesses, the environment and the next generation of county leaders.

“Like many NCC students, I rely on the bus to get to school because maintaining the cost of an education and a vehicle is simply unaffordable,” said Jennifer Bach, a NYPIRG Student at Nassau Community College. “Times are tough and I cannot afford to be left stranded without a way to get to school. The County needs to fund our buses to keep Nassau County moving.”

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