At the moment the full vote for Republican County Executive Dan Mangano's proposal for Long Island Bus to privatized-handed off to Veolia Transportation, Inc. has still not happened as both the public hearing and legislative vote have yet to happen. (The title's gloss is that the acronymn on the new buses will read "NICE")
"The contract, promised to the public by August, was not unveiled until this month, two days after Nassau legislative elections and hours before county offices closed for a three-day weekend. Then a public hearing planned for this past Thursday had to be canceled because it was improperly advertised, which mean a vote on the contract by the full legislature, planned for November 28, also had to be postponed."
Today's Newsday, pg A34
The new hearing is set for Dec 12 and the vote on Dec 19 just 12 days before the county loses the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) as its bus operator. As Newsday points out this leaves the county in a pretty weak negotiating position. After all the legislature could reject the contract and the deal Mangano struck protects Veolia's interests much more than the county's. What then if the legislature rejects the proposal?
That would leave the county few options beyond doing things under Veolia's terms. How does it protect Veolia more than the county? Consider that it allows the company to walk at any moment it its not satisfied with the revenue its getting or the routes it's asked to maintain. While it has to seek approval of any route cuts or fare hikes it might seek from a county committee it can simply walk out of the contract if it doesn't get what it requests. They can also cut service on any route by 25 percent at any time without approval.
While the extreme libertarian argument thinks the private sector can do everything better with perhaps the exception of defense, the reality are there are some things the private sector does well, others not so well. I don't have great confidence that running a county bus will be one of those things it does well. The first sign of trouble will be when Veolia starts complaining that it can't make a profit with the service it is asked to maintain.