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Long Island Bus spared from drastic cuts — for the time being

A month ago, we noted that the Long Island Bus system in New York’s Nassau County was slated to cut service in half without a funding deal between state and local officials. Fortunately for the 33 million annual riders on the LI Bus, the New York State Senate on Friday announced an $8.6 million cash infusion to prevent these cuts.

The consequences of inaction would have been unacceptably draconian. It would have meant the elimination of 25 out of 48 routes, two hundred lay-offs and 16,000 riders left stranded, with 200 disabled riders losing paratransit services. Friday’s announcement, the result of months of negotiations between Nassau County and New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, puts the brakes on the cuts until the end of the year.

The discrepancy in funding arose largely because Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano refused to meet the obligation MTA officials deemed necessary to align with the contributions of neighboring counties. Although Nassau County is very wealthy, Mangano ran and won on an anti-tax platform and has remained steadfast against new revenues.

In an editorial today, the New York Times endorsed the $8.6 billion infusion, while noting that it is limited to the calendar year. The Times also encouraged Nassau to pay its fair share and chastised Mangano’s approach. “Buses limit traffic congestion and keep the economy moving. They are a means of survival for thousands of riders,” the Times wrote, continuing:

Instead of protecting that vital service, Mr. Mangano says a privatized system would run better for significantly less money. That’s ludicrous, as anyone will tell you who remembers the 1970s, when the failures of Nassau’s jumble of badly run private bus lines prompted the state to rescue the system.

The Tr-State Transportation Campaign has more information on the deal, including a statement here.