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Long Island Bus, Nation's Largest Suburban Bus Line, To Privatize

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 08:16 PM

Nassau County executive Edward Mangano said Long Island Bus will be privatized by the end of the year.

He announced at a Friday press conference that Veolia Transportation submitted the winning bid to take over the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 48 bus lines, which carry an average of 100,000 daily riders.

Long Island Bus is one of the country's largest suburban bus lines; it connects suburban Nassau County with Queens.

The county and Veolia must still negotiate a contract. Mangano says he expects Veolia to run all of the bus line's current routes for $106 million--$8 million less per year than the NY MTA. Veolia will only be allowed to cut routes as a last resort.

The authority told county officials last year they needed to pitch in $17 million more per year for the bus operation, raising the yearly contribution by Nassau County to $26 million. That would’ve put the county in line with nearby Suffolk and Westchester counties, which respectively pay $24 million and $30 million per year for similar services from the MTA.

Nassau officials said they couldn’t afford it, especially after a state oversight board stepped in last year to seize control of the county’s depleted finances.

A press release from Mangano's office announcing the deal ripped the NY MTA as "a bloated bureaucracy."

The MTA, in a prepared statement, didn't respond to the criticism. "We look forward to working with the County and Veolia to assist in the transition and transfer of service at the end of the year," it said.

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