D-Day Approaching For Long Island Bus

Christina Solom bundled herself against the cold, as she waited for her bus in Hempstead.  The Hofstra University student rides Long Island Bus nearly every day to get to class and to work.

"If they were to take it away, I wouldn't be able to survive or get an education," said the 21-year-old from Baldwin.

A hundred thousand others who use Long Island Bus each day share those same concerns. Even so, D-Day for Long Island Bus is fast approaching.

Next Wednesday, the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expected to eliminate the MTA's twenty six million dollar subsidy for Long Island Bus.

Without that money, the buses could stop running by March of next year, according to MTA board member, Mitch Pally.

"I am not understanding!  What are we supposed to do?" asked Shernet Stone, a soldier from the Bronx who rides the bus to her Armory in Freeport.

Stone's frustration is borne from a simple fact- L.I. Bus riders are caught between two bureaucracies fighting over money.

The MTA has been subsidizing Long Island Bus for a decade to the tune of over a hundred million dollars, according to Pally.  No other county receives any such subsidy for its bus service. 

"Nassau county should not get a benefit none of the other counties nor New York City gets," said Pally.

So far, however, the financially troubled Nassau county has refused to increase the nine million dollars it now pays for Long Island Bus. 

Nassau county executive Mangano has even proposed privatizing the bus line to keep it running.

"For the better part of a year now, the county and the MTA have been playing chicken to the detriment of a hundred thousand riders," said county legislator Wayne Wink.

Wink is urging compromise and negotiation to save Long Island Bus, even proposing that traffic fine money from some of Nassau county's "red light" cameras be used to help pay for the buses.

Despite those suggestions and a recent letter from the MTA's chairman, Nassau's county executive has remained publicly silent on the issue for weeks.  Although the MTA vote is just days away, Mangano's office refused comment when NBCNewYork.com called Friday.

"I remain optimistic a deal can be struck," said Pally.

Long Island Bus riders hope he is correct.

"I need the bus.  I need the bus," lamented Jose Samayoa, who uses the bus each day to reach his job in Manhattan.

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