The recent announcement that NICE Bus, Nassau County’s bus service, was discontinuing many of its routes met with considerable public outcry.
There is some good news to those residents who may have been adversely affected by these cuts, as County Executive Ed Mangano, Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, held a press conference at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola on Feb. 10 to discuss the new plan to restore the discontinued lines.
“This is a very happy announcement,” said Mangano. “In a bipartisan way, we have come together to find $3 million which will result in the restoration of some of the bus service that was eliminated by the transit committee in the November meeting that took effect in January. We’re very happy that we were able to come together, obviously collectively. We all wanted to see our transportation system that’s robust as possible, we want a system that our ridership can depend on, and a transportation system that provides alternatives for our ridership. It’s important for our economy, for their households, and that’s why we’re here today to announce the funding.”
Gonsalves hopes that this is a first step in future prosperity for bus service in the county, and that this could also be a building block for future cooperation with NICE Bus and its CEO Mike Setzer.
“This is a good thing for our residents, especially those who have lost the ability to access the bus routes,” she said. “We need to continue to move forward in the weeks and months ahead so that we can do what we’re doing today in 2017. This is something that we’re going to have to work together… to make it possible for us to continue in the event that this happens in the near future. Hopefully, after we meet with Mr. Setzer, we will determine which bus routes need to be restored.”
Abrahams acknowledged the acute disruptive effect that the discontinued lines may cause, not only in the daily lives of residents who have no other alternatives, but to others as well.
“Think about the people that use the bus services and where they have to go. They have to go to work, they have to go to the doctor’s office, they have to take their kids to school,” he said. “These are all things that have a ripple effect, because many of the people that are employers are relying on these folks to be able to get to work, get to their appointments in a timely manner. So it’s extremely important that we’re able to move forward.”
There is no timetable yet on when the bus lines will be reinstated, nor is there certainty about how many of the discontinued lines will be back on the road, but the mutual hope is that it will get done as soon as possible.
“We like to put service out,” said Setzer. “We’re going to move as quickly as we can. There are a lot of things to be done to restore service—buses have to come back out of mothballs, drivers have to be hired and trained. So we’ll use that time to put some ideas and plans to the county.”