Economic cuts from COVID could force cuts to bus service

SUFFOLK COUNTY (WABC) -- The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could force Suffolk County to make some drastic cuts to bus service.

The county faces an $800 million dollar budget deficit and without significant federal help, the county executive says they will have no choice but to slash transit service.

"We lost about 40% of riders, but it's coming back now and people need our system," Suffolk Transportation System's John Corrado said.

But all the routes may not be there come next year.

Suffolk County says it has already spent the $26 million it just got from the federal government for losses in transportation.

The county executive says the If the county doesn't get more money in a new federal relief package, 19 bus routes could be eliminated affecting 2,500 riders.

"Failure to provide disaster aid at the federal level to our local communities will undercut and undermine our recovery," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Bellone says this isn't just about transportation.

The county has lost $240 million in sales tax revenue and $25 million in property taxes, but the federal government has already given Suffolk County more than $283 million dollars in federal relief money.

Republican legislators say these budget deficits were happening pre-COVID.

"To blame the federal government is a cop-out," Legislator Robert Trotta said.

"We have a problem with compulsive spending," Legislator Leslie Kennedy said.

"That's why legislator Trotta and myself sent a letter to Secretary Mnuchin saying we would like federal money but there need to be strings attached. We need a federal monitor of the money," Legislator Anthony Piccirillo said.

The following routes are slated to be discontinued:

S54 - 548 riders per day
10B - 45 riders per day
S59 - 90 riders per day
S57 - 139 riders per day
S31 - 12 riders per day
S76 - 36 riders per day
S56 - 89 riders per day
2A - 106 riders per day
7A - 60 riders per day
10C - 85 riders per day
6B - 108 riders per day
S47 - 73 riders per day
8A - 131 riders per day
S62 - 339 riders per day
1A - 63 riders per day
6A - 78 riders per day
S69 - 3 riders per day
2B - 161 riders per day
S23 - 149 riders per day

Suffolk County could also be forced to reduce the Suffolk County Accessible Transportation (SCAT) Service.

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