Testimony of Veronica Vanterpool
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board Meeting, Manhattan

March 23, 2011

Good morning. My name is Veronica Vanterpool, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional policy watchdog organization working for better transit and transportation policy in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Sometime this summer, at least 16,000 bus riders in Nassau County will lose their bus service because the MTA and Nassau County Executive Mangano have not reached a funding agreement to run Long Island Bus’ 48 routes and paratransit services. The MTA has proposed providing service commensurate with the level of funding Nassau currently gives to run the bus, which is $9.1 million. That means the MTA will cut 25 of 48 bus routes.

County Executive Mangano has countered with a privatization proposal to end its relationship with the MTA. The County believes it can get the same level of bus service from a private operator for a $2 million price tag. That is misguided and unrealistic.

Nassau County is getting a bargain basement deal from the MTA that no other suburban county enjoys. Westchester County’s bus system, which provides service for roughly the same amount of riders as Nassau County, pays almost $33 million a year for its privatized service. And, for this price they get 175,000 fewer hours of service than LI Bus. Suffolk County pays $24 million a year and their bus service is 1/6 the size of Long Island Bus. The amount of bus service that can conceivably be funded with $2 million is a slap in the face to the 100,000 daily Long Island bus riders.

LI Bus was created in 1973 because of the failure of the private market to adequately provide good bus service on Long Island at reasonable fares. By privatizing now, County Executive Mangano is proposing to bring LI Bus, currently one of the largest and most efficient suburban bus systems in the country, to the heydays of 1970s transit.

County Executive Mangano needs to get serious about the transportation crisis facing his constituents. The County Executive needs to shelve this misguided privatization proposal and put bus riders, the economy, and the future of Long Island first by increasing the County’s contribution to its bus system. County Executive Mangano, don’t turn your back on Long Island’s bus riders. Come back to the table and work out a fair deal with the MTA.