Mangano Launches "NICE" Bus Service
On Thursday, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced a contract agreement with Veolia Transportation to manage and operate Long Island Bus under a new name – Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) – starting Jan. 1, 2012. The contract maintains current fares and the Able-Ride service area. The contract, which saves taxpayers more than $32 million annually, was submitted this week to the Nassau County Legislature for review and approval. The legislature is expected to hold a public hearing on the contract prior to voting on the agreement.
“Nassau’s public-private partnership with Veolia symbolizes a new, smarter and more efficient way of providing services in Nassau County. No longer will the choices be limited to demanding more subsidies from taxpayers or slashing service. Today marks a new era of reliable service for riders, job opportunities for employees and reduced costs for local taxpayers,” Mangano said.
The contract outlines a fully transparent, business-minded process with public oversight for development of an annual budget based on available funds and service demands. According to Mangano, this approach was specifically designed to avoid the upheaval and unpredictability that occurred just this past spring when the MTA held public hearings to eliminate more than half of the Long Island Bus routes, strand disabled riders, lay off hundreds of workers and increase by $26 million the burden which residents must pay through property taxes. Nassau’s NICE Bus plan:
- Saves taxpayers $32.4 million annually when compared to the MTA’s demand. The annual taxpayer direct subsidy will decrease from $9 million to $2.62 million, saving local taxpayers $6.38 million in addition to not having to pay the MTA $26 million a year.
- Maintains current fares. Fares cannot be raised unless approved by a 100 percent Nassau County Resident Transit Committee rather than the MTA Board with only one Nassau County representative.
- Preserves the Able-Ride service area for 2012 and 2013, rather than implement the MTA’s proposed cuts.
- Restores the MTA’s proposed route cuts.
- Increases transparency and oversight through the establishment of a Transit Committee, comprised of public transit professionals accountable to Nassau County, to provide quarterly and annual reviews of the private management and operation of the transit system.
- Insures customer satisfaction through an annual customer scorecard that measures time performance, service reliability, trips that are missed and bus cleanliness.
- Consolidates duplicative work and inefficiencies.
DA Rice Speaks Out About Crime Lab
In February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed State Inspector General Ellen Biben to lead an investigation into potential impropriety at the Nassau County crime lab.
This week, District Attorney Kathleen Rice released a statement regarding the inspector general's investigation. Rice said:
“Last December, I first learned of serious problems at the Nassau County Police Department’s crime lab. In February, after a review of the circumstances, I requested the closure of the lab to ensure the integrity of evidence my office relies upon to prosecute accused defendants. I called for an independent investigation into the lab, and Governor Cuomo appointed New York State Inspector General Ellen Biben to lead that probe. Inspector General Biben’s independent, painstaking investigation was both comprehensive and appropriately swift. This report highlights the need for an independent civilian-run crime lab, state accreditation agency reform, and offers a welcome blueprint for returning the necessary credibility to our county’s testing of forensic evidence.
“The inspector general’s report today details troubling failures in the lab and with the regulatory system that allowed these problems to persist for years with no notice to my office or the public. In the wake of the lab’s closure, I requested extensive retesting to ensure the integrity of convictions which relied upon evidence tested in the lab, and that process remains ongoing.
“I thank the inspector general for her comprehensive investigation and insightful recommendations. To ensure my office remains informed about the accreditation process, I have appointed my Chief Assistant District Attorney as liaison to the New York State Forensic Science Commission. I stand ready to work with Mangano and the Office of the Medical Examiner as we move forward toward a new, state of the art, independent, civilian-run crime lab.”
Smoking Ban to Begin on LIRR Platforms
Lighting up a cigarette while waiting for the train to arrive will no longer be allowed on Long Island Rail Road platforms beginning Sunday.
New York State's new smoking ban will go into effect on Nov. 13 for the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. The current rules prohibit smoking on any train and in any indoor area within a terminal or station, but the new state law extends the prohibition to the outdoor railroad platforms, ticketing and boarding areas, according to a notice on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's website.