The future of the Long Island Bus line is the subject of a public hearing at Hofstra University Wednesday afternoon.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority said the county needs to pay an additional $24 million a year to keep the bus line going. But county officials, facing a $176 million budget gap, have proposed privatizing the service instead.
"We believe we operate a good bus system and a good service out in Nassau County," MTA chairman Jay Walder said. "But if the county decides that they want to go a different way, we will be fully cooperative with them to facilitate the transfer, if that's what they want."
The county's fiscal situation is so dire that it was taken over in January by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said one cost-saving measure might be to turn over the bus system to a private operator.
If privatization doesn't happen by July, the MTA said it will cut costs by laying off 200 workers at Long Island Bus and eliminating 25 of 48 lines.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano didn't let Nassau's financial problems prevent him from going on the offensive at the Hofstra hearing, where he ripped the MTA for mismanagement and budgetary waste.
"It is these lavish spending habits that have caused the MTA to cut Long Island Bus service in the past and have caused this hearing to take place today," he said. "Let me be clear. The MTA is putting bus drivers out of work, not Nassau County."
He said a private company could operate Long Island Bus without resorting to most of the service cuts the MTA is proposing.