Hundreds protest MTA bus privatization plan

Saying privatizing public transportation in Nassau County will hurt workers and residents who rely on the county’s buses, several hundred people—including some from immigrant communities on Long Island–turned out for a hearing on the issue on Dec. 5.

The long-sought hearing was held just two weeks before the county legislature was to vote to award a contract, reports Ted Hesson of Long Island Wins.

“Everybody’s worried,” said Angela Pacova, a Peruvian immigrant and Levittown resident who works as an MTA bus operator. “We don’t know if they’re going to have cuts…They’re playing with our lives.”

More testimony came from

66-year-old José Marinero, a maintenance worker who lives in Uniondale and is a member of the Long Island Civic Participation Project. Marinero immigrated to Long Island from El Salvador two decades ago, and relied on the bus for his first 11 years in the country. While he now owns a car, he came out to support fellow residents who depend on public transportation. “Almost everyone in my community uses the bus,” he said.

Three days later, Hesson reported:

At the hearing, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and a county consultant repeatedly stressed that the bus service provided by Veolia, an international corporation based in Europe, would be better than the current service provided by the MTA.

However,

a day later, Veolia Environment SA, the transportation’s parent company in Paris, announced that it plans to sell off its transit holdings in an effort to try to revive company stock. Had the contract with Nassau County already been approved—it’s scheduled to come to a vote in the Nassau legislature on December 19—the county would be stuck working with an unknown entity.

Whatever company buys Veolia Transportation will presumably want to make it more profitable, ie, hike fares, cut services, fire workers.

Calling the deal “rotten,” he questioned

why county officials seemed to have no clue, or not care, about the state of Veolia when they put this agreement on the table in the first place.