Yesterday the Nassau County Legislature approved a deal to turn over management of Long Island Bus to Veolia, a private company based in Illinois, whose parent company says they are selling off their transportation holdings. The NCCFT Executive Committee went on record opposing the privatization. Below is the text of a letter, copies of which were sent yesterday to members of the Nassau County Legislature and to County Executive Edward Mangano voicing our opposition to the privatization of Long Island Bus. In the letter, we called on legislators to delay voting on this measure so that they can give the issue more thorough consideration. The text of the letter follows. We are grateful to Dr. Stephanie Sapiie from the History/Political Science/Geography department, for taking the lead on this important issue.
December 12, 2011
Members of the Nassau County Legislature
Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building
1550 Franklin Avenue
Mineola NY 11501
Dear Nassau County Legislator:
The members of the Executive Committee of the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers (NCCFT) write to express their opposition to the privatization of LI Bus. We are especially concerned about the impact of bus privatization on the lives of our many students who rely on the bus to get to classes. Our campus is served by five different routes (N51, N45, N43, N16 and N35) and ABLE-RIDE. Buses serve the college throughout the day starting as early as 6:30AM and running (depending on the line) through 11PM. Long Island Bus plays an integral role in many of our students’ busy lives. The buses connect students to major transit hubs in Hempstead, Roosevelt Field, Mineola and Jamaica. Reliable, affordable and publically-accountable public transportation make it possible for our students (many of whom are working parents) to combine work with higher education. For many of our students, unable to pay higher fares or pay expensive taxi fares, the loss of LI Bus means further hardship. It will render many unable to continue with their education and rise above low-wage work.
We support the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s calls for the County Legislature to slow down the process of privatization for further review for three reasons.
1. Democracy: The Transit Advisory Committee gives no voice to the bus-riding public or to the labor force in the event of fare-increases, schedule-changes or cuts in service. According to the pending contract with Veolia, Veolia has the ultimate authority to decide service levels in Nassau County without a mandated public process.
2. Jobs: While Veolia agrees to make offers of employment to a majority of employees who work for LI Bus, they have yet to specify how many workers from LI Bus they will actually hire. Additionally, the NCCFT believes that both the public and the County are best served by preserving union jobs and maintaining the bus system as part of a publicly run system, which is accountable to the public. We oppose its privatization.
3. Access: Nassau County wishes to subsidize its bus-service at a cost of $2.6 million, down from $9 million. This represents a far lower share than Suffolk or Westchester County pays to maintain its privatized bus-service. Given the 30 million yearly riders of LI Bus, many of whom are students at Nassau Community College, how will the County be able to maintain the same levels of service without raising higher taxes on County residents and taxpayers?
With little more than two weeks before privatization of LI Bus proceeds, we call on you to delay today’s schedule vote and further review any proposed contract with a private transportation company to make sure it truly serves the best interests of the residents, riders and workers who depend on this County’s transit system.
The Executive Committee of the NCCFT