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Elected Officials Complain About MTA Cuts to Able-Ride Service

Bayville Mayor Victoria Siegel was informed of the plan of the MTA to cut out their Able-Ride bus service on April 12 - when a resident faxed her a copy of a letter she had received from the MTA dated March 10.

The MTA said their reason was the current economic climate and that the “paratransit service to areas of Nassau County that are beyond the service area defined by the Americans with Disabilities act (ADA).” The service is to be in line with an actual regular scheduled bus line – which Nassau County does not have. Additionally, the MTA said that the Oyster Bay, Bayville, Syosset area only provided for 8 percent of their trips in 2009. They did say that residents can call them in each case to get a determination for a reservation, at 228-4000.

Mayor Siegel said, “I called Legislator Diane Yatauro since they claimed they stopped the service because of reduced funding from the county and the state.

“Her chief of staff, Ann, said the legislator was working on it and had received calls.

“I called Senator Carl Marcellino and spoke to Nancy in his office and she too said they had received some calls.

“They are stopping service to the people that can least afford to have the service removed in Bayville, Oyster Bay and Syosset.

“People who need the ride call them and they come to the door and pick them up and deliver them wherever they have to go and charge a small fee of $3 or $4 for the door-to-door service. It’s great in these areas where there is no scheduled bus served. This service is life and death to them. I understand that everybody is strapped and needs to reduce the costs, but how do you remove a service for people who really need it. Why not raise the fees?

“The village sponsors a shopping bus for villagers of all ages, but we couldn’t possibly provide that same service to take people at all hours of the day to where they need to go. Something has to give here,” said Mayor Siegel.

New York State Senator Carl Marcellino dealt with the issue succinctly saying, “In an $11 billion budget the MTA choose to cut the Able-Ride Service for the disabled for a savings of $1 million. The priorities of the MTA are simply not mine.

“I have written to Chairman (and Chief Executive Officer Metropolitan Transportation Authority Jay H.) Walder and have asked him to rescind these cuts and find the money someplace else in their bloated budget. His letter of March 26 said:

“Recently, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority enacted service cuts to the Able-Ride Service. With the complete elimination of trips outside the fixed route service area, the 5th Senate District that I represent will be one of the hardest areas affected and will leave many communities with effectively no public transportation for the disabled.

“I am sure that you can understand the significant impact that this service cut will have on the ability of people with disabilities to get to and from medical appointments as well as to and from places of employment and school. Many do not have any access to any alternative means of transportation. The Able-Ride Service is their lifeline and critical to their health, livelihood and overall welfare.

“I ask that you do all you can to address this issue. In your multibillion dollar budget I am sure that you can identify $1 million in savings that will not affect the most vulnerable members of our community,” concluded the senator.