Committee votes in favor of NICE Bus service cuts

The Nassau County Bus Transit Committee voted Thursday in favor of a plan to cut routes serviced by the Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE Bus.

The Nassau County Bus Transit Committee voted Thursday in favor of a plan to cut routes serviced by the Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE Bus. (2/16/17)

GARDEN CITY - The Nassau County Bus Transit Committee voted 5-2 Thursday in favor of a plan to cut routes serviced by the Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE Bus.

The vote calls for the elimination of 10 routes and the reduction of service to four more.

The chopped routes are the Freeport Shuttle, Hicksville-Wantagh Shuttle, Rockville Centre Shuttle, N19 Freeport-Sunrise Mall, N36 Lynbrook-Freeport, N45 Bellmore-Roosevelt Field, N47 Hempstead-Bellmore, N51 Roosevelt Field-Merrick, N57 Great Neck Loop and N78/79 Hickville-Plainview.

Reductions will be seen on the Elmont Shuttle, N27 Roslyn-Glen Cove, N70/71/72 and N80/81 routes.

Earlier Thursday, Nassau bus riders denounced the planned cuts at a public hearing in Garden City.

Daphne Smith, of Garden City, said she relies on the N79 route to get to her job each morning in Plainview.

"They are not thinking of the little people," she told News 12 Long Island.

NICE Bus CEO Michael Setzer told the board that while he wishes the system could avoid making cuts, the reality is that Nassau provided $7 million less in funding this year than it did in 2016. As a result, he argued that NICE must eliminate routes and reduce service in order to maintain a balanced budget as it is contractually required to do.

He adds that the routes could be saved if the county or state comes up with adequate funding, as was the case a year ago.

County Executive Ed Mangano says Nassau ended 2016 with a multimillion-dollar surplus, but the board that oversees the county's finances disagrees and won't permit the use of reserve funds to subsidize the bus service. Still, Albany and Mineola lawmakers are vowing to try to find the funds somewhere.

If they stand, the cuts are set to go into effect beginning April 9.

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