An Exhausting DependenceBus Cuts on Long Island and Their Impact on Riders
An Exhausting DependenceTaking the bus has always been a grueling way to get around Long Island. With recent cuts in bus routes it’s getting even harder.
Aaron Watkins-Lopez, the organizer of the Long Island Bus Riders Union, has been taking buses since he was a teenager living in the town of Lynbrook. Back then, he would take the bus to the mall with friends, or use it as a cheap form of transportation.
Things changed when he started taking the bus to school at Stony Brook University. If Aaron wanted to remain independent without driving a car, he would have to take that three hour trip using Long Island public transit to reach his school.
Out of university, he worked for non-profit advocacy group Long Island Jobs for Justice, where because of the legendary length of his commute Jobs For Justice asked Watkins-Lopez if he wanted to be the coordinator for bus riders on the island. The Bus Riders Union has more than a thousand members but a core of around 30 riders and who are active in the bus rider community and who participate in events and rallies the Union holds.
The Union operates out of Hauppauge. When Aaron still lived in Lynbrook, he would complete a three hour commute every day just to get to work. Recently he moved to Stony Brook mostly just to be closer to work.
His job is 20 minutes away by car. Aaron’s morning commute takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.