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Union, Veolia Reach Deal On Long Island Bus

Friday, December 30, 2011

On Jan 1, Long Island Bus will change its name to NICE, and get a new look.

A bus drivers union has reached a tentative contract agreement with the new private operator of Long Island Bus, averting an interruption in Nassau County bus service.

Veolia Transportation will take over the bus lines from New York's MTA on January 1st in a move meant to save the county money.

Patricia Bowden, president of Transport Workers Union Local 252, said she was thrilled that there would be no workforce reductions.

"I believe that it is a fair contract, it's not the same as the MTA, because that's a public [agency]," she said, "but for a private company I think it's very fair."

Veolia confirmed that there would be no layoffs. "Every TWU member who worked on Long Island Bus and applied and was qualified to join Veolia to work on NICE has been made a job offer," an email from the company said.

The contract must be ratified by the union membership before it takes effect. The union said a date for a ratification vote will be scheduled for January.

On January first, the service’s name will be changed to NICE, an acronym for Nassau Inter-County Express. Veolia said all current routes will continue to run, and will cover all of the same stops they normally do. Although the MTA will no longer be involved with operations, riders can still use their MetroCards.

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Transportation Nation

Let's Go Ride the Light Rail, Baby

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Phoenix's Valley Metro has commissioned a series of earnest, unironic music videos in which local bands sing about the virtues of public transit.  Designed to educate the public about transit by embedding a catchy tune in your frontal lobe, Valley Metro Notes (as the animated video series is called) takes on topics like "How to Ride the Light Rail," "How to Ride the Bus," and "All Day Transit Pass."

Lady Gaga it ain't, but then again, "Poker Face" won't explain transit etiquette or fare vending machines.  On the other hand, as the two animated figures show, you can always swing dance on the light rail.

"People have told us that they're apprehensive about riding transit, because they're not exactly sure how to do it," one Valley Metro staffer told a Fox News affiliate.  The Valley Notes web page continues: "While you’re smiling and singing along, you’ll learn all about what pass to use, riding light rail, taking your bike, routes and schedules, riding safely, and much more."

The video campaign comes on the heels of tough year for Phoenix transit: bus ridership fell by millions of fares, the transit agency suffered a sizable drop in tax revenue, and contract woes and strike threats dragged on for much of the year.  Meanwhile, according to one recent national study, Phoenix residents face one of the worst--and most expensive--commutes in the nation.

Valley Metro has also made the songs available as free MP3 downloads.

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