After cutting bus routes for East Meadow, Bellmore and Merrick due to budget shortfalls, Nassau Inter County Express is piloting a new type of service aimed at saving money and providing convenience for those on the go.
“NICE Link” is an on-demand service that will allow bus riders to order a ride from anywhere on an app, similar to Uber or Lyft. The app will track where the user is currently located and will pick them up, taking the rider anywhere they need to go within the service area, for the price of $4.50. The service is set to debut on July 23.
“Using GPS, the app already knows the rider’s location,” said the Senior Vice President for Epoch5 Public Relations. “The rider requests a ride and enters the destination, which must be in the service area. The app will then propose a trip – how long the trip will take, time of pickup and if passenger chooses to accept, the app collects fare of $4.50. Price point is more than a bus and less than a taxi.”
The East Meadow, Bellmore and Merrick area lost bus service in the spring because of a budget shortfall and the fact that the ridership was lower than other service areas. However, there is still a demand for service in this area, as riders like Matt Steven Kamper, of East Meadow, used the NICE bus to get to work.
“It affected me as I used the N47 to get to Hempstead Transit Center to transfer to the N16 or N27 to get to work on Monday and Wednesdays,” Kamper said. “I also used the N51 to get to/from the Merrick LIRR Station or to get from work in Hicksville via transfer at Roosevelt Field.”
Kamper attended a committee meeting at the Legislative Building in Mineola and learned of the NICE Link Service launch two weeks ago, and he believes he will use the service.
He said that he believes it will be beneficial for bus riders in this community “especially since it will also benefit Able-Ride customers.”
The three “cutaway” buses that will be used to provide the NICE Link services has 14 seats, three wheelchair stations and a wheelchair lift.
Those who use Able-Ride, a door-to-door service that provides disabled riders who are unable to used fixed schedules with transportation, are also able to use NICE-Link. The benefit of Nice-Link compared to Able-Ride is that the rider does not have to book a trip 24 hours in advance. However, fare for NICE-Link is $.75 more than Able-Ride.
A Hempstead resident on the Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee for NICE Bus, Robert Schoenfeld, believes that this new service will be beneficial for those who have been previously using Able-Ride.
“NICE Bus has been pretty decent on what they do for people on disability,” Schoenfeld said. “So we’re very happy with that. And this obviously shows that there doing this semi taxi service and starting with accessible vehicles to begin with.”
Schoenfeld is also a representative for Disabled in Action of Metropolitan NY, a civil rights organization that advocates for those with disabilities.
The service will be available five days a week from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 2:30-7 p.m. and will take passengers anywhere they need to go within the service area; Hempstead Turnpike to Merrick Road (north-south) and Meadowbrook Parkway to Wantagh Parkway. The bus will also provide service the Freeport Train Station.
If this program proves successful for passengers and NICE bus officials, service may be expanded to other time slots and service areas. Metrocard will not be accepted for this service.