Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
Bus riders in Nassau County, Long Island, are gearing up for some unwanted changes in the Nassau Inter County Express bus service, known as NICE.
Veolia Transportation, which operates NICE, is scaling back bus service, in part, because the county has limited funds for the service.
The company defended the changes, saying it went to great pains to trim only the least used bus services.
NICE CEO Michael Setzer said the company eliminated some trips that “are not useful to the public.”
Some of the changes may help riders travel more efficiently, according to the company. Two new express routes have been added and one line that goes from Hicksville to Jamaica, the N6, will now run express. Another bus line that was eliminated a few years ago, that serves Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Center, has been reinstated.
“We’ve spread out the distance between buses on a few routes, but we’ve also made the schedules more consistent with actual traffic conditions, so that buses will be on time,” Setzer said.
But Ryan Lynch, with the advocacy group Tri-State Transportation Campaign, is concerned by the changes. “Service will be reduced one way or the other, on 60 percent of the entire system. That means some people may lose entire service on Saturdays or midday service.”
NICE is the Nassau County-owned bus system. From the 1970s until January of this year, it was operated by the MTA. The Nassau County Legislature voted unanimously last December to hand over bus service, to Veolia Transportation, to operate the system under a private-public partnership agreement, where Veolia operates the service, but the county continues to own the assets, like the buses.