Public bus service in Nassau County, N.Y., could be privatized after talks on Monday between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the county executive produced no resolution in a funding dispute.
County Executive Ed Mangano and MTA chairman and chief executive officer Jay Walder met to discuss funding cuts to MTA Long Island Bus.
The MTA’s proposed 2011 budget would cut a $26 million subsidy to the bus services operations, putting the cost of operating it on the shoulders of the county, which included $9.1 million of funding for the service in the county’s own budget for next year.
“While we’ve agreed not to discuss the details of today’s discussion publicly, it is clear that the county has no intention of meeting its obligation to fund its bus system next year or in the foreseeable future,” the MTA said.
Mangano spokesman Michael Martino said in a statement that the county executive had made a “good faith offer in an effort to avoid the MTA’s threatened shutdown of LI Bus.”
“While County Executive Mangano awaits the MTA’s decision, he will continue to explore privatization of bus service should it be necessary,” Martino said.
The MTA has operated the county’s bus service, which the county owns, since 1973. In 2000, the county began to reduce its funding for the bus service and the MTA made up the difference. Nassau is the only suburban county for which the MTA operates and subsidizes bus service.
Earlier this year, MTA officials said the cash-strapped authority could no longer afford to pay the bus service’s operating costs, which had increased after Nassau cut its funding to $9.1 million in 2010 from $10.5 million last year.
Nassau is one of at least nine suburban municipalities that filed suit this year against the MTA, the state, and Gov. David Paterson challenging the legality of a tax on employers’ payrolls in the 12 counties served by the authority. The tax was enacted by the Legislature as part of a rescue package to fund capital and operating costs.