N57 bus route saved from NICE cuts

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A screenshot of the n57 bus loop found on NICE Bus website.

The n57 bus route, or the Great Neck Loop, managed to avoid a planned service cut on Sunday, thanks to an increase in projected state aid.

The state will provide $67.9 million in operating aid to the Nassau Intercounty Express (NICE), a rise of more than $1.3 million. NICE is also receiving about $2 million more in state capital funding, according to Elaine Phillips, a state senator representing North Hempstead and parts of Hempstead and Oyster Bay, to account for a cut in county support.

Phillips described securing the state aid as one of her priorities.

“According to NICE bus officials, the additional funding will help preserve the Great Neck Loop and several other routes which were slated to be cut,” Phillips said, referring to the n19, n57 and n78/79 bus routes. “Preserving services helps riders and benefits the community and the economy. Riders need more service, not less.”

The n57 loops through Great Neck, Kensington, Great Neck Plaza, Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Gardens, Kings Point and Saddle Rock. It features stops at the railroad and various corners like Station Road and Fairview Avenue, East Shore Road and Kennilworth Terrace, Arrandale Avenue and Middle Neck Road, and Bayview Avenue and Old Mill Road.

Nassau County cut its subsidy to NICE, leading to a $6.8 million shortfall, as part of an effort to regain fiscal health. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), which oversees the county’s finances, said Nassau County has a recurring deficit.

Last year the authority recommended that $30 million be cut from discretionary funding as part of a multiyear recovery plan.

“We don’t mandate where the cuts come from,” David Chauvin, a spokesman for NIFA, said. “We simply enforce the bottom line of what has to happen.”

NICE’s operating budget is about $122 million, with more than half of it coming from the state. Passenger revenue in the 2016-2017 budget was about $46.9 million in 2016, but dipped to $44.7 million for 2017-2018.

In February, the Nassau County Bus Transit Committee, a nine-member county board that oversees NICE, approved the elimination of 10 routes. But on March 23, NICE officials said, they revised their plans.

“Based on the hopes that it would receive $2 to 3 million in additional funding, NICE decided to continue operating three of the 10 routes that were to be eliminated on April 9,” NICE spokesman Andy Kraus said.

But, Kraus added, this was only a portion of NICE’s funding and significant long-term adjustments are needed.

“Without predictable, dedicated revenue streams, service cuts are likely in the years to come,” Kraus said.

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