Veolia Transportation will take control of operations for Long Island Bus beginning in 2012, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announced today. The Illinois-based subsidiary of a French company bested MV Transit and First Transit in the bidding, and they have promised to “keep existing fares and levels of service through the end of 2012,” Newsday reports. After 2012, it’s anyone’s guess what Nassau County’s bus service and fare structure will look like.
The decision, of course, is not without controversy. While transit advocates and local politicians do not believe that Veolia will be able to maintain service levels and fares, the company apparently has close ties to Nassau County’s politicians. As Newsday notes, “Veolia hired D’Amato’s firm, Park Strategies, as consultant during the county bidding process. Park Strategies vice president Robert McBride, a well-known GOP lobbyist who hosted a fundraiser for Mangano in McBride ‘s home in January, headed the effort locally.”
Meanwhile, Veolia does not have a stellar safety record, and Nassau Country representatives do not believe that the company can provide the same service as the MTA without a greater subsidy from the county or higher fares. “This is going to end up costing us so much more money,” County Legislator Kevan Abrahams said. “One way or the other, we’re going to have to put money into this. And I hate to think that it’s going to come from the riders.” What a mess.