HICKSVILLE - The Nassau Inter-County Express bus service will slash 11 routes and restructure two others on Jan. 17 in an effort to close a budget gap.

The bus system is owned by Nassau County, but run by a private company that also relies on county and state funding.

NICE estimates it will have a $7.5 million deficit in 2016.

A spokesman for NICE Bus says they understand the inconvenience to the riders, but adds that the routes being eliminated will affect about 1 percent of the overall ridership.

The plan to eliminate the 11 routes was approved by the Nassau Bus Transit Committee. Democratic Legislator Judy Jacobs says their hands were tied when it came to finding NICE more money.

"The county could not give them more money… We should be ashamed of ourselves with the type of mass transit we don't have," says Jacobs.

Some NICE bus riders will also have to deal with a fare hike on Jan. 3. The cash and GoMobile rates are going up to $2.75. The disabled and senior fares will increase by 10 cents.

Rider Meryl Tihanyi has started an online petition in an effort to stop the slashing of routes. She believes that poor people are being held hostage and having their public transportation taken away.

"Riders have no alternatives," she told News 12. "A taxi from  [Hicksville]  to the Hempstead Turnpike is $12."

A full list of the slashed routes is listed on the NICE Bus website.