For years, residents of the Amsterdam at Harborside and tenants of the nearby industrial park have pushed for a bus route on West Shore Road in Port Washington. And now that effort is picking up steam with leaders of the Nassau government.
With the backing of county Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove), advocates at the Amsterdam have met with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. DeRiggi-Whitton said that she and the advocates would meet next week with Curran and Michael Setzer, the chief executive of the Nassau Inter-County Express Bus service.
Advocates were hopeful that Curran would come through on the route.
“This was one of her campaign platforms, that transportation and jobs are connected,” said Dorothy Bheddah, a resident of the Amsterdam who has spent the last few years pushing for a bus connection. “I’m optimistic and I want to keep going until we get it done.”
During the first meeting with Curran, according to Bheddah, several possible bus routes were discussed. DeRiggi-Whitton said that the most likely scenario would be a rerouting of the bus line that runs through the center of Port Washington. As it does currently, the proposed route would come up through Port Washington Boulevard, but instead of coming back to Northern Boulevard the same way, it would come across to West Shore Road and then head south.
Advocates and DeRiggi-Whitton previously met with Setzer in 2016, and they were informed that NICE Bus did not have the funding to expand the route. But DeRiggi-Whitton said things have changed since then.
“We did just increase the budget for the buses … and there was a study done by NICE that said the route would support itself, so I’m cautiously optimistic,” she said.
Bheddah said that other residents at the Amsterdam have signed a petition calling for a bus link on West Shore Road. The original petition was signed three years ago, in conjunction with several businesses at the nearby industrial park. But she said when the petition was submitted to the county government, it went nowhere.
“We submitted it to the county Legislature and [then County Executive] Ed Mangano, but he had no interest in meeting with us,” she said.
Bheddah said expanded service would be a vast improvement.
“The closest bus stop is on Old Northern Boulevard, which is more than two miles away,” she said.
Both DeRiggi-Whitton and Bheddah stressed that the addition of bus service would be an economic boost. Bheddah said that the Amsterdam has struggled to recruit workers and has endured high turnover because of the lack of transportation. According to a letter from Bheddah, two attorneys representing the businesses of the industrial park said that the companies there, too, struggled to find and keep workers.
“The workers have to spend $9 to come here from the LIRR station, that is $18 every day,” Bheddah said.
DeRiggi-Whitton had additional safety concerns about the workers.
“A lot of people that work in these places walk on West Shore Road at night, and I think it’s a real safety issue,” she said.