2011-04-08 / Top Stories

Rockaway-Nassau Bus Service Saved

By Howard Schwach

The N31 in a recent WAVE file photo. The MTA proposes to discontinue that line as well as the N33 which connects Far Rockaway with Long Beach. The N31 in a recent WAVE file photo. The MTA proposes to discontinue that line as well as the N33 which connects Far Rockaway with Long Beach. A deal cut by state legislators this week could delay cuts to the Long Island Bus service that spelled the end for vital service between Far Rockaway and Nassau County, cutting access to vital medical services, shopping and jobs for hundreds of local residents.

In the wake of state budget cuts the bus service was going to cut two of the three routes that Long Island Bus runs to Far Rockaway – the N31 and N33.

Officials say, however, that the State Senate has come up with $8.6 million to keep the service going at its current levels at least until the end of the year.

The additional money was found after hundreds of angry bus riders, many of them from Rockaway, packed a hearing at Hofstra University in Hempstead to protest the proposed cuts.

The N31 connects Far Rockaway with Long Island; and the N33 connects the peninsula with Long Beach.

Since 2000 the MTA has contributed more than $140 million to subsidize Long Island Bus and fill the gaps that are left by Nassau County’s failure to meet its funding responsibilities.

Nassau County executives said on Monday that they were looking for a private bus company to replicate the service that is now run by the county bus company, arguing that it does not any longer have the money to fund the service and needs the private sector to take over.

The discontinuance of the N33 would end all bus service between Far Rockaway and Long Beach.

Once arriving in Long Beach, passengers transfer to City of Long Beach local bus service, which would continue.

The N33 line serves an average of 900 riders each weekday, 500 riders on Saturday and hosts 350 Sunday customers.

The net annual savings by eliminating the line, which serves Far Rockaway, Atlantic Beach and Long Beach, would be $429,000. There would be no transportation alternatives to the loss of N33 service, officials say.

Discontinuing N31 bus service, which runs Monday through Saturday, would impact an average of 1,460 weekday and 710 Saturday customers. It would affect Far Rockaway, Lawrence, Woodmere, Hewlett, Lynbrook, Malverne and Hempstead and provide a net annual savings of $306,000.

The MTA considers the N32 to be an alternative to the N31. Except for parts of Lawrence and Woodmere, where the N31 operates along West Broadway and the N32 operates down Central Avenue and Broadway, the two buses run along the same route.

—Additional reporting by Miriam Rosenberg.

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