Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) organized a hearing on the MTA’s planned cuts to ABLE ride. The hearing was held on Wednesday, May 19th in the auditorium of the Nassau University Medical Center and over three hundred people were in attendance.
The Legislator is hopeful that credible solutions for Nassau’s physically challenged residents who rely on the transportation provided by the bus service will be the result of this hearing. For many disabled County residents, ABLE Ride provides their only means of mobility in and around a car-oriented suburbia.
Legislator Jacobs called the hearing following MTA’s announcement several months ago that they would be cutting ABLE Ride services by approximately 10 percent in order to slash its budget by $1.2 million. The changes in service would leave some areas of Nassau County with virtually no public transportation for disabled, mostly in the northeast quadrant-which includes Syosset, Woodbury, Bayville, Oyster Bay and other points on the north border of Nassau County.
Jacobs who spear-headed the hearing, invited fellow County legislators from both sides of the aisle, along with the former Director of the Nassau County Office for the Physically Disabled Donald Dreyer; advocates for the physically challenged; and all Federal, State, Town and City elected officials to the hearing, some of whom attended, in person, others sent written testimony and others send representatives.
Over 60 individuals spoke at the hearing. This included the lawyers who represent the advocacy groups, the elected officials, and the patrons of ABLE Ride. “This was an extremely meaningful and emotional hearing which only underlined the need and the fact that an elimination of this service can not and must not take place, “said Jacobs.
Certain solutions were discussed which have worked elsewhere in the Country such as the use of a voucher system with a public/private alliance with a taxi company to provide transportation; wrap a round advertising on the buses which allow riders to see out but can bring in dollars in advertising to offset costs; managing the routes in a more efficient manner to avoid a bus trips with only one rider on them; and cutting down on overtime costs for the drivers.
The Courts have given an extension of service to the 27th of May. Jacobs said, “We are hopeful that after this outpouring of need which was obvious at yesterday’s hearing, the Courts will be inclined to extend the deadline and, in the meantime, good minds from the Advocacy groups, the MTA, LI Bus, ABLE Ride and the County can arrive at a long term solution.”