CHURCH IN THE GARDEN, GARDEN CITY

TRI-STATE TRANSPORTATION CAMPAIGN

LONG ISLAND JOBS WITH JUSTICE

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

LONG ISLAND PROGRESSIVE COALITION

UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CONGREGATION AT SHELTER ROCK

NEW YORK COMMUNITIES FOR CHANGE

VISION LONG ISLAND

THE NEW YORK PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP

WANTAGH MEMORIAL CONGREATIONAL CHURCH

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
October 3, 2011

Contact:
Ryan Lynch, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
631-742-7528

Groups Call for Legislators to Stand Up for Bus Riders; Urge County to Get Back to Negotiating Table with MTA

Mineola—Riders, faith based community leaders, business groups, civic group members, LI Bus workers, transportation and planning advocates, in advance of Committee hearings on the 2012 County budget, called on the Nassau County Legislature to stand up for the over 100,000 daily LI Bus riders and increase the amount allocated for LI Bus in the draft county budget.

With a contribution of only $2.5 million for 2012, the current budget represents a nearly 73% cut in the County’s contribution over 2011. The groups called on the County Legislature to increase its contribution and urge County Executive Mangano to go back to the negotiating table with the MTA to find an alternative to his bus privatization proposal, scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2012.

“$2.5 million is woefully inadequate to run a bus system of the size and scope of Nassau County’s,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Without an increase in funding, bus riders will face service cuts and fare increases next year, a possibility that has already been intimated by the County’s preferred operator, Veolia Transportation.”

The groups brought scores of letters from Nassau County residents and people that depend on LI Bus. The letters highlight opposition to the County Executive’s privatization plan, as well as the sense of urgency facing LI Bus riders who say they are not being heard. Two letters from residents in Rockville Centre and Franklin Square were blown up in size to emphasize these concerns.

“People are trying to make their voices heard in any way possible,” said Ryan Lynch, Long Island Coordinator of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Unfortunately, the one way that the County could facilitate this, a formal public hearing, has not taken place, and the prospects of these hearings are barely on the horizon.”

The LI Bus privatization issue has become an important one for Nassau County’s faith based communities, who fear that many of the riders and their families will be unduly impacted by higher fares and less service.

"Many families in Nassau County are just one paycheck away from poverty. They are struggling, but so far they are making it. Without safe and reliable bus service, they won't be able to get to their jobs. If they can't work, their families will be forced to rely on an already overtaxed social services network. Both the human cost, as well as the financial burden, will end up hurting us all," Rev. Karyn Carlo from the Church in the Garden of Garden City.

As an alternative to privatization, the groups urged County Executive Edward Mangano to reenter negotiations with the MTA, calling the pending departure of Chairman and CEO, Jay Walder, an opportunity the County shouldn’t miss.

“The County Executive needs to look at all options and opportunities available before taking County taxpayers down an unknown route,” said Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island. “Everything must be considered, especially since Veolia Transportation has already suggested that fare hikes and service cuts are a reality in 2012 to plug the gap in funding for the bus system.”

While a contract between the County and Veolia Transportation has yet to be agreed upon, the groups once again urged Nassau County Legislators to vote down the privatization proposal when it comes before them.

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