Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE Bus) will soon begin taking delivery on 28 new handicap-accessible paratransit vans that will replace Able-Ride’s oldest vehicles. Able-Ride is a shared ride, curb-to-curb bus service for people with disabilities. The new wheelchair accessible modified Dodge vans will offer Able-Ride greater flexibility in how it serves customers, reduce fuel and maintenance costs, and provide a more comfortable ride for passengers.
Able-Ride provides almost 1,000 rides to Nassau County residents each day, and has 900 clients in Hicksville.
“We are pleased to update the Able-Ride fleet and we’re doing it in a way that will improve the experience for NICE’s paratransit customers,” said County Executive Ed Mangano. “Along with the 45 new fixed route buses added to the NICE fleet recently, we are continuing to update the equipment without placing the cost on taxpayers. We are especially pleased that Veolia Transportation is making investments in the system.”
The cost of the 28-vehicle purchase is approximately $1.2 million. Of that, the entire cost of 18 vehicles, approximately $780,000, is being paid for by Veolia at no cost to Nassau County taxpayers. Another 10 vehicles — costing approximately $435,000 —are being funded through state-administered Federal Transportation Administration grants earmarked for capital purchases for mass transit. The first of the vans are expected to be delivered in late this month.
“NICE is continuously looking for ways to improve our service and reduce our costs. Using a mix of vehicles for Able-Ride is something we have considered for a long time and Veolia’s investment is helping make that possible,” said NICE Chief Executive Officer Mike Setzer. “We think passenger vans, as opposed to the larger truck chassis mini-buses, will serve customers’ needs better in many instances with a noticeably smoother ride.”
Rather than replace the older vehicles with the current “mini-bus” style vehicles that now comprise most of the 95-vehicle Abe-Ride fleet, NICE will begin using a mix of vehicles that will help it provide better service and reduce costs. As opposed to the current vehicles, the vans will use regular gasoline and offer improved gas mileage; are able to travel on parkways giving passengers and operators faster and/or shorter options; and are built on a more comfortable car chassis, versus a truck chassis, which has a rougher ride.
The new vans can comfortably and safely handle two customers in wheelchairs and two seated customers. While their overall capacity is smaller than the current mini-buses it is sufficient to meet actual demand. The vehicles being replaced are all seven years old.