WOODBURY - NICE bus riders demanded better service Tuesday during a protest over a 25-cent fare hike.
As News 12 reported in July, Nassau's Bus Transit Committee voted to raise cash fares from $2.25 each way to $2.50 to help close a $3.3 million deficit.
Many bus riders say it's unfair to balance the budget on the backs of poor and working families who rely on the bus for work.
READ MORE: Transportation Stories
Cory Chavez, of Bay Shore, is one of NICE's 100,000 daily riders who will see their commuting expenses rise by $130 a year under the fare increase.
“I pay a lot of money to get to and from work as it is and I don't get paid much,” said Chavez.
Protesters hand-delivered a list of demands to NICE, including keeping bus fares affordable and appointing a bus rider to the Bus Transit Committee.
“We're actually demanding they give bus riders a public ‘thank you’ for bailing them out, because that's what this really is when there is no service improvements with this fair increase,” said Anita Halasz, of L.I. Jobs with Justice.
NICE says the fare hike is not bailout.
“The fact is with each NICE ride approximately 40 percent is covered by riders out of their fares, another 60 percent is covered by subsidies. So it's a balancing act either way,” said Andy Kraus, of NICE.
NICE says they've spent $50 million since the beginning of the year to improve service, including new buses and new vans for ABLE rides.
Bus riders News 12 spoke with say they haven't seen any improvements.
The protesters also called on Nassau County to increase their funding for buses in order to prevent future fare increases.