Eye on the Island: Bus System Reprieve

Jack M. Martins

April 20, 2011

Published in Anton Community Newspapers

By Mike Barry

Remember reading and hearing about how the Republican-controlled New York State Senate allocated $8.6 million toward the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Long Island Bus (LIB) system, thereby averting significant LIB service reductions this summer?

No, I didn’t think so, and you’re not to blame. The editorial boards at Newsday and The New York Times operate in a parallel universe where Republican office holders are cartoon characters, working 24/7 to protect the interests of millionaires while punishing widows and orphans. So these same editorial writers are unable to portray accurately this fact: three of Nassau’s GOP state Senators intervened late last month on behalf of LIB’s riders, saving the Long Islanders who use the system from draconian service cuts through year-end 2011.

The MTA had proposed cutting 27 of LIB’s 48 routes due to a lack of funding. Had the MTA’s plan gone into effect, it would have adversely impacted about 16,000 riders. State Senators Jack Martins (R-Mineola), Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) and Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) reached into the Senate’s MTA Capital Reserve Fund to save the day, recognizing the MTA’s plans would have hurt those who rely on LIB in their districts.

Check out the first paragraph of Newsday’s editorial: “The announcement that the state will kick in $8.6 million to fund Bus through the end of the year and forestall service cuts in Nassau County is wonderful for riders who use those routes slated to get the ax. For taxpayers outside Nassau, however, it is a kick in the teeth. They’ve been subsidizing Long Island Bus for years.” No other suburban county gets a bus subsidy from the MTA, Newsday huffed, before turning its attention to how the Mangano administration has to figure out a way to keep LIB running when the MTA is no longer involved in its operations effective January 2012.

Memo to Newsday’s editorial board: Nassau’s taxpayers have nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to financing the MTA’s far-flung operations. There are epic, far-over-budget MTA capital projects underway right now—the Fulton Street Transit Center project in Manhattan comes immediately to mind—that Nassau taxpayers are funding through various

MTA levies but few in Nassau will ever see, or benefit from, the finished products. An aside: I encounter the Fulton Street project daily because my office is near there. The work site has for years looked like Dresden, Germany, circa early 1945, and few retailers have survived the slow-motion chaos.

But I digress. The opening paragraph of The New York Times’ editorial was even better than Newsday’s, if you’re convinced Albany and Mineola should be controlled completely by Democrats, because the Times’ editors didn’t even acknowledge the pivotal role played by Nassau’s GOP state Senators and immediately assailed Nassau County’s Republican county executive: “A late infusion of cash from Albany has postponed the plan of the Nassau County executive, Edward Mangano, to cripple his county’s bus service, but only until the end of the year.” Ah, yes, those unnamed lawmakers in the state capital have thwarted Dr. Evil’s plans again. Good for them.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net