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Mourning the Potential Loss of Bus Service in Long Island

10:54 AM EDT on October 7, 2010

It says a lot about how we prioritize transit in this country that one of the nation's largest suburban bus systems is on the brink of collapse outside New York City.

Long Island Bus is facing possible closure or at least very dramatic service reductions after years of chronic underfunding by officials in Nassau County. Even as ridership has grown dramatically in recent years, County officials have balked at contributing more to sustain service. Now officials at the New York MTA are threatening to pull the regional transit agency's $26 million contribution from the suburban system unless County officials step up.

Long Island transit riders and activists responded yesterday by protesting in a style that has caught on in the New York region: They held a funeral service for the LI Bus. Ryan Lynch at Network blog Mobilizing the Region gives this account:

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The memorial service, followed immediately by a funeral procession to the steps of the Nassau County Legislature, focused on what LI Bus means to riders, access to education and the missions of the advocacy groups in attendance...

Following the procession, the groups called for an end to the games that have plagued negotiations between Nassau County and the MTA and added a call to action which urged Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, the Nassau County Legislature and the MTA to negotiate in good faith and find a sustainable solution to funding LI Bus. It remains to be seen whether they will answer the call.

Advocates in other parts of the country have used different set pieces to call public attention to the need for better transit. St. Louis residents held a "prom" inside their light rail system last year to support transit funding. Do activists in your city have a creative tactic for protesting transit cuts?

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Transport Politic compares the relative merits of two policies for reducing vehicular traffic in city centers, London's congestion pricing and Paris' infrastructure-based strategy. The City Fix theorizes that pop culture may be starting to celebrate car-free lifestyles in the way it once worshiped the car. And Human Transit asks why Canadians ride transit more than their counterparts in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

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