Bus Service Should Not be Cut Without Alternatives

Vision provided testimony earlier this week in opposition to the proposed cuts to Suffolk County Bus Service as the Suffolk County Public Hearing on the proposed Operating Budget. Transit service for working people without cars matters and steps must be taken to minimize the impact of this important service. We find money for all forms of transportation projects but the ones that hit the neediest folks are the first ones on the chopping block.

Here is our statement:

Vision Long Island opposes the proposed reductions to bus funding and services as proposed in the Suffolk County Operating Budget.

On July 10th, 2020, Suffolk and Nassau County Executives unveiled the results of a comprehensive study analyzing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Long Island’s economy.  The study, prepared by the consulting firm HR&A Advisors, with support from the Nassau County ISA and Suffolk County IDA, reveals that Long Island is losing jobs at a faster rate than other suburban countries in the state.  The analysis shows ta disproportionate share of the job loss falling on low-paying jobs, workers with local levels of education, and Hispanic/Latino workers.

Fast forward three months and we find Suffolk County moving to cut half of its County’s bus services, with at least 19 routes being discontinued, affecting nearly 2,300 riders a day.  The justification from Suffolk County government has been because Washington has failed to act, we are now in a position where cuts to public transit are necessary.  While Washington is failing to do what is needed, the County cannot abandon its most vulnerable residents.  This is counterproductive to the ultimate goal of attaining economic stability and growth in our towns and villages.

Bus cuts damage efforts to promote economic development in downtowns, disproportionately affect folks who live in less affluent areas, and community residents with disabilities.  This specific cut will achieve the total opposite of what good government should be doing during this unprecedented time, which is to support workers and local businesses.  Local government should refrain from extreme reactions when it comes to funding critical services.

In recent years, the Country has been correctly and successfully encouraging connectivity on Long Island by promoting transit service and economic development with downtowns and employment centers.  This has been an important component in the successful revitalization of many downtowns and we have supported these efforts.  The County ought not to be abandoning this undertaking, it is needed now, more than ever.  Folks do not ride the bus for fun, they ride for work, and a lot more people will lose their jobs when they lose their bus service.

Bus services without alternatives should not be cut.