NEW YORK – Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory yesterday joined Suffolk and Nassau County elected officials, small business owners, community leaders, bus riders and transportation advocates to show unity in support of Long Island bus service and to call for increased funding in order to preserve existing routes.
Budgetary constraints forced Suffolk County to cut several routes last year, and Nassau County is poised to see massive cuts to service this year. With the federal government planning on spending trillions and New York State spending billions of dollars on transportation and infrastructure, those gathered today implored federal and state representatives to dedicate a funding stream for Suffolk and Nassau bus systems so that the students, working families, seniors and disabled who rely on those services are not left out in the cold.
At a press conference organized by Vision Long Island, held at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, officials announced a five-point emergency action plan needed to preserve bus service in each county.
The plan calls for: 1) an emergency appropriation to be included in the New York State budget to stave off cuts in Nassau and restore recent cuts to Suffolk service; 2) as state officials debate ridesharing legislation and negotiate a final agreement, ensuring that a $0.50 surcharge for each ride on Long Island is directed to local bus systems and not the MTA as originally planned; 3) passing legislation to redirect a portion of the MTA payroll tax to Long Island transportation priorities including NICE bus service in Nassau and Suffolk Transit in Suffolk; 4) as federal infrastructure dollars are debated, seeking to have funding for operating and capital budgets for Long Island bus service; and 5) having both counties review their routes, looking for efficiencies and local offsets if needed to match state or federal assistance for bus service.
“Communities depend on bus service; it is a necessity in their lives,” said Presiding Officer Gregory. “Without adequate bus service, young working people, seniors, students and the disabled have no way to make a living or take care of the most basic necessities of a decent life. We cannot let that happen. The state and the federal government have to do their part in providing funding for adequate bus service not only to protect some of our more vulnerable citizens, but also to promote a sustainable future. Multi-modal transportation is critical for building a Long Island that suits the interests and needs of our next generation.”
“Transportation resources in the form of NYS and federal tax dollars and user fees that are derived from Long Island residents should be reinvested back into the community for critical services like NICE bus and Suffolk County Transit,” said Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island and co-chair of the LI Lobby Coalition. “LI bus service transports seniors, disabled, working families and students and is a critical investment for our economic growth, small businesses and local residents. We need an emergency action plan to keep bus service running, and this is a top priority of the 90-organization LI Lobby Coalition.”
“It’s time for the state to match its level of commitment and investment to Suffolk County with that of our peers,” said Suffolk Legislator Kevin McCaffrey, who represents the 14th District and was also in attendance at the press conference. “It is imperative that we secure this investment from the state to allow us to provide basic transportation for our youth, seniors and hardworking residents of Suffolk County to keep our economy growing.”
“We must do our part to find efficiencies and plan for a smart regional approach to public transportation,” added Suffolk Legislator Bridget Fleming, who represents the South Fork. “Given the current fiscal conditions on Long Island, it is critically important that our efforts are supported by equitable funding from the state and federal government for public transportation. Growing and maintaining bus service that suits our communities is vital to sustaining the economy, and the East End must be appropriately considered during these discussions.”
“Suffolk County buses lack the necessary routes and hours of operation which drastically impacts riders and overall ridership,” said Suffolk Legislator Kate Browning, who represents the 3rd District. “We don’t receive our fair share of state funding, which needs to be addressed through the MTA tax and other transportation monies. We need New York State to provide fair funding to Suffolk riders so that they can have the services they deserve.”
“The bus service in Suffolk County is a lifeline to many of our residents,” added Suffolk Legislator William Spencer, who represents the 18th District. “For our working families, it is their connection to services and to their livelihood. With NYS budgeting billions for transportation and infrastructure, it is my hope that Suffolk County will get its share to restore and strengthen our vital bus services. I support the advocates gathered today dedicated to making this a top priority for the welfare riders and for our overall economy.
Pictured Above: Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory stands with elected officials from both Suffolk and Nassau counties, as well as business and community leaders, transportation advocates and bus riders, in asking the state and federal governments to dedicate funding for Long Island’s bus system to restore and stave off cuts.
Press Release by Luann Dallojacono.
Press Release Made Available by the Office of Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory.