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Monday, December 22, 2014

***PAID INTERN ANNOUNCEMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION EQUITY***

Hello!

The Bus Riders’ Union is looking for two bus riders, one from Nassau County and one from Suffolk County, with knowledge about the NICE or SCT bus systems and the motivation to help improve the bus system for all.

Organizational Background:
The Long Island Bus Riders’ Union is an organization of bus riders and public transit advocates who work to creating affordable, equitable and accessible public transportation systems across Long Island. Through relationship building and grassroots organizing, the Union advocates with and on behalf of bus riders to implement changes that will positively affect workers, students, the aging and disabled communities and encourage economic development.

The Long Island Bus Riders’ Union is a project of Long Island Jobs with Justice, a coalition of workers, people of faith, community members, and students that promotes workers’ rights and economic justice and are committed to creating living wage jobs, supporting organizing, and demanding accountability in our communities.

Primary Responsibilities:
• Support the development and implementation of Bus Riders’ Union projects and ideas
• Build a base of supporters and allies for the Bus Riders’ Union through direct bus rider outreach (i.e. distributing fliers at bus depots, gathering petition signatures, surveying)
• Mobilize riders to attend meetings and events
• Attend monthly Bus Riders’ Union meetings
• Attend legislative meetings and public hearings

Job Requirements: 
• Experience riding NICE or SCT buses
• Commitment to social justice and transit equity
• Self-motivated and dedicated, with an ability to work independently and overcome obstacles
• Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
• Ability to work well with diverse groups and populations
• Ability to attend evening meetings and events
• Bilingual in English/Spanish or English/Creole preferred but not required

Interns will work in a part-time capacity (8 hours/week) for 26 weeks (6.5 months) at $16/hour. Travel expenses relating to outreach, like Metrocards, SCT transfer tickets, and Long Island Rail Road tickets, will be reimbursed. Interns will report progress to the Bus Riders’ Union Organizer.

How to Apply:
Applications will only be accepted electronically. Please send a cover letter and resume, with “BRU Organizer” in the subject of an e-mail, to ahalasz.lijwj@gmail.com. Applications will be accepted and reviewed until Thursday, January 15th. Please include a daytime phone number where we can contact you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

**NEXT BRU MEETING 12/9!!**

Hello!

This is a reminder that the next meeting of the Long Island Bus Riders' Union will be on Tuesday, December 9th, from 6:30-8pm at the Ethical Humanist Society
This will be our last meeting for 2014 so make sure you mark your calendars!
We are going to be reflecting on our highlights, victories and struggles over the last year, as well as planning our next steps for making change in 2015! This was a big year for the work we've all been doing, so let's go into 2015 strongerlouder and more enthusiastic than EVER!

See you at the meeting!
The Long Island Bus Riders' Union

Please, don't forget to "Like" us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!

Monday, November 10, 2014

HUGE Victory for Nassau County Bus Riders!!

Members of the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union celebrate a HUGE VICTORY after presenting a list of rider demands to Nassau County and NICE Bus in early September. A bus rider will be added to the Transit Advisory Committee, which oversees the NICE bus system, adding a level of representation that was not there before. This gives bus riders the opportunity to advocate for the kind of service THEY need!
Additionally, after countless efforts to get the County to invest more in public transportation, they have bumped up their contribution by $2M! While the operational needs of the bus system are well over the $4.6M that is in the 2015 budget, this is another victory for bus riders across Nassau County!
THE RIDERS UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!
Check out today’s Newsday article:
NICE bus gets $2M bump in 2015 Nassau budget
Updated October 30, 2014 8:40 PM
By ALFONSO A. CASTILLO  alfonso.castillo@newsday.com
A bipartisan agreement by Nassau lawmakers will boost the county’s subsidy to its bus system by $2 million, freeze fares for some customers in 2015, and give NICE riders more say on issues that affect them.
The plan, included in Nassau’s newly adopted 2015 budget, increases the county’s subsidy to the Nassau Inter-County Express to $4.6 million from the previous $2.6 million. It promises to hold a ride to $2.50 for customers who pay in cash or with NICE’s mobile application, and will add four new members to the county’s Bus Transit Committee, which governs NICE.
The four new members will include two appointed by County Executive Edward Mangano, one by the Republican majority, and one by the Democratic minority. Democratic lawmakers said they plan to make their pick a riders’ representative, chosen in conjunction with the nonprofit Long Island Bus Riders Union.
“NICE Bus continues to save taxpayers millions of dollars while protecting riders from a fare hike or service cut,” Mangano said in a statement Thursday.
But the new county budget was not all good news for riders. Even with the increased subsidy, NICE still runs a deficit of about $6 million, according to figures in Mangano’s originally proposed executive budget. And Nassau’s vow to not raise fares outside of any hikes on the MTA-controlled MetroCard removes one of the county’s options to help fill the deficit.
Officials with Veolia Transportation, NICE’s parent, declined to comment Thursday.
Long Island Bus Riders Union spokeswoman Anita Halasz said she fears that, without further government subsidies, Veolia may be forced to cut service to fill a budget gap, as it has before.
“Can we not come up with a better plan?” Halasz said. “We need to be prioritizing public transportation.”
Halasz added that she was grateful that riders will soon be able to voice their concerns on the county Bus Transit Committee, even if that voice may be “diluted” by the addition of three additional Republican appointees. In total, seven of the panel’s nine members will be appointed by Mangano or the GOP majority.
“I think no rider representation is worse than some rider representation,” Halasz said. “For us, this is a victory.”

Friday, October 3, 2014

Rate the Ride: Aaron's Adventure!


Good Afternoon,
The Bus Riders' Union is excited to announce it's first ever "Rate the Ride: Aaron's Adventure"! Aaron, along with BRU members will be traveling from Jamaica, Queens to both North and South forks of Long Island ONLY relying on the Nassau and Suffolk County buses!

Some might wonder why anyone would want to make this trip and possibly get stranded. Our purpose is to demonstrate the importance of Long Island's public transportation system while brining attention to the most common concerns and struggles that bus riders are facing, many of which include late or no-show buses.

The trip will begin on Wednesday, October 15th at the Jamaica Station and will end on at the East Hampton Long Island Railroad Station on Thursday, October 16th (that's right - TWO DAYS!). We will be live Tweeting, Facebooking and Blogging as we ride the bus and speak with other riders. Please visit the following links on the 15th and 16th to see how the ride is going!

BRU Twitter: @LongIslandBRU
BRU Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1irnOlg
BRU Blog: http://longislandbusridersunion.org/

We would love to have others join us at any point along the route! If you are interested, please contact Aaron Watkins-Lopez at awlopez.lijwj@gmail.com, or at (516) 724-6145, for more information about which bus he is taking and what time!

We will keep you posted as we gear up for the trip! Hope to see you on our "adventure"!

In Solidarity,
The Long Island Bus Riders' Union

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bus Riders' DEMAND Equal Representation!

Did you know that the Vice Chairman of the Nassau County Bus Transit Committee is ALSO the Vice President of All Island Transportation?! 

When Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano made his appointments he thought it would be appropriate to place Lawrence W. Blessinger, Jr. on the committee yet he did NOT see fit to appoint a bus rider or rider advocate. This is not only a conflict of interest but a blatant denial of bus riders right to equal representation!

The Long Island Bus Riders' Union is demanding that Nassau County amend their contract with Veolia, NICE Bus operator, to include language that would require a bus rider or rider advocate to sit on the board with equal voting power. SO! We are calling on the community, both bus riders and non-riders, to come and join us on September 22nd in the Nassau County Legislature (1550 Franklin Avenue, Garden City 11501) at 1PM to call upon the Nassau County Legislature to stand with bus riders and give us the equal representation that is our right!

Bus riders are tired of a "NICE" Bus system, we want a JUST bus system!

Don't forget to "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Friday, September 5, 2014

"Nassau County and NICE owe bus riders a DEBT of gratitude..."



Bus riders are fighting back against the (UN) FARE INCREASE!
"WE can no longer afford to pay more for less. WE can no longer make the decision between a meal or  bus ticket."

Check out we had to say in Newsday about bailing out NICE and Nassau County here!

Join us on Monday, September 8th, at 1PM at the Nassau County Legislature (1550 Franklin Avenue, Mineola) as we urge the county to increase funding for OUR buses!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bus Riders Demand Public “Thank You” from Veolia and Nassau County for Bus Bailout


Garden City, NY On Tuesday, September 2nd, the day after Labor Day, bus riders and public transit advocates demonstrated outside of NICE Bus Headquarters where the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union released and delivered a “Bus Rider’s List of Demands” in response to the recent decision to increase bus fares to partially fill NICE Bus’ $3.3 million budget deficit. This fare increase comes with no plans to expand bus service.
While both Nassau County and Veolia contributed financially to offset the budget shortfall, many bus riders, like Kimberly Saget, felt it was unfair for them to pay more without seeing improvements in service. 
“I work hard for the money I have. Knowing that NICE bus is taking more money but not giving anything in return is frustrating. If NICE wants to keep riders happy, taking our money and not improving service is not the way to do it,” said Saget. 
Aaron Watkins-Lopez, Organizer with the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union expressed a similar frustration. 
“Once again, Veolia and Nassau County are looking to us, the riders, to bail them out. Our concerns and requests are reasonable – we want affordable and accessible service and we want to be part of the decision-making process,” said Watkins-Lopez. 
The Nassau County Bus Transit Committee held public hearings where bus riders were given the opportunity to provide their input. The two scheduled public hearings were held during normal business hours – 2pm and 5pm – when many bus riders are at work and unable to leave. Many riders, like Nassau County Community College professor and bus rider, Stephanie Sapiie, felt that rider’s concerns have fallen on deaf ears in the past and wants NICE Bus and Nassau County to finally add riders in to the decision making process.
“Bus riders are only asking for a say in the decisions that affect their commutes and working-lives. We think that NICE Bus should not only listen to bus-riders but should also incorporate our needs into decisions made about service, routes and fares,” said Sapiie.
Cindy Tropeano, a former MTA and NICE bus driver, expressed her concern with the future of the bus system in Nassau County.
“I’ve seen the profession I love deteriorate tremendously in the last two and half years. Veolia has brought down the standards and quality of Nassau County Bus,” said Tropeano.
With the rising cost of fares, service cuts and changes, and late buses, bus riders are forced to take more expensive, and sometimes less safe, modes of transportation. 
“I really wish there were more n49 service at night especially after midnight. I used to pay cab $10 from work one-way, now I pay $13 with tip every night. I may have to consider getting a new bike to ride to and from work if this keeps up,” said Long Island Bus Riders’ Union member Richard Clolery.
“We need stronger financial oversight when it comes to matters of this size. We hope that the Nassau County Legislature and Veolia can devise a system that will prevent budget shortfalls and that the County can identify a steady funding stream so that bus riders do not have to endure fare increases like this again,” said Anita Halasz, Executive Director of Long Island Jobs with Justice.
Included in the list of demands were the following: keep fares affordable, use fare increase money to improve and expand service – not to fill budget shortfalls, invest in routine trainings for drivers, add a bus rider and community advocate to the Bus Transit Committee, make future public hearings accessible, and issue a public “thank you” to bus riders for paying more to fill the budget deficit.
To see the News12 story check it out here!

To check out our List of Demands download them here!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My FAIR Increase!


Prof. Stephanie Sapiie

If YOU could decide, what would you want YOUR additonal 25¢ to go to?
That is the question the Long Island Bus Riders' Union has been asking Nassau bus riders.
On September 1st, Nassau County and NICE Bus will be imposing a 25¢ fare increase on cash paying customers as one solution to help fill NICE Bus' $3.3 million budget shortfall. Does anyone else smell a bailout? Nassau County and NICE Bus have also agreed to chip in, but do not be fooled by this gesture - the buses have needed more money since 2012 and Nassau has not delivered! To top it all off, with little to no public notice, Veolia (NICE Bus operator) held two virtually INACCESSIBLE public hearings with barely any riders' present. Without any public support, a fare increase was approved, and Nassau County and NICE bus have decided that bus riders should be the ones to pick up the tab and bail them out.

Retired Nice Bus Driver, Cindy Tropeano
This (un)fare increase comes with no improvements to bus service, yet riders are expected to pay, and for what?! 

Anonymous Rider with 3 Children
As a response, the Long Island Bus Riders' Union is launching the "My FAIR Increase" Campaignto demand that Nassau County and NICE Bus give bus riders a public thank you for bailing them out! Aaron and Kimberly will be visiting bus terminals and bus stops between today and September 2nd to speak with riders about what they want their 25¢ to pay for (see the pictures above). We will deliver these demands to NICE Bus on September 2nd, the day after the implementation of the fare increase, where we will demonstrate outside of the NICE Headquarters (700 Commercial Avenue, Garden City) at 6:30PM. We will also visit Nassau County officials on September 8th at their legislative meeting (1550 Franklin Avenue, Mineola) at 1PM (see flyer below for details).
Please join us on September 2nd and the 8th as we tell Nassau County and NICE Bus that if they want our money then they need to listen to US, the riders!

Aaron Watkins-Lopez
Organiser
Long Island Bus Riders' Union

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Looks Like Us Bus Riders Get the Bill Again.

"It's not appropriate to ask the poorest of the poor to fill this deficit. We need to think of better long term planning . . . We can't continue to come back year after year asking bus riders to fill a deficit."-Anita Halasz

Last week, the Transportation Advisory committee voted "YES" to an increase in cash fares on riders to close the $3.3 Million deficit in NICE's budget.

The county AND Veolia, NICE Bus operator, cannot expect to constantly take money from riders and keep service at the same sub-par level. It is highway robbery.

Nassau County Bus Transit Committee Chairman Sheldon Shrenkel
(Photo Credit: Barry Sloan, Newsday)
Check out Newsday article here!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Nassau County Legislators Ride The Bus!




This week Anita and Aaron rode the bus with Legislators Siela Bynoe (LD2) and Laura Curran (LD5) through their districts to speak to riders and find out what it's like for daily bus users. With the threat of upcoming service cuts due to a $3.3 million deficit, the support of county Legislators is amazing! ‪#‎NICEneedsNassau

Thursday, March 6, 2014

3/10 PUBLIC FORUM!

Please join us March 10th, 2014, 

From 6-8PM

At the Ethical Humanist Society

Garden City, NY


for our 3rd annual Public Forum! Where we will be 

discussing everything from the MetroCard

 "Read Error" problem to late or cut bus routes!



Please send all inquiries to:





Aaron Watkins-Lopez
Email: awlopez.lijwj@gmail.com




631-348-1170 EXT. 310




www.longislandbusridersunion.org

Monday, January 13, 2014

Long Island Bus Riders' Union weighs in on NICE Bus' falling satisfaction score.

Newsday reported that NICE Bus' satisfaction score  for the third quarter of 2013 dropped to 29 percent, compared to 52 percent in 2012 for the third quarter. See what we had to say in response to this drop here!

 

A NICE bus making its route through Nassau

Monday, January 6, 2014

Long Island Bus Riders' Union Birthday Party!


This Thursday, January 9th, 2014
In the Ethical Humanist Society
Garden City, NY
At 6:30PM!

Please join us as we celebrate our 2nd Birthday! There will be music, food and fun!

Please send any type of inquiries to:


Aaron Watkins-Lopez
Email: awlopez.lijwj@gmail.com

631-348-1170 EXT. 310


www.longislandbusridersunion.org