New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will begin its fare-free bus pilot on five routes, one in each borough, that will now collectively serve 43,900 daily weekday riders by late September this year for a period of six to 12 months.
Routes were chosen based on a variety of factors, including ridership, fare evasion, service adequacy, equity for low-income and economically disadvantaged communities, and access to employment and commercial activity.
"The MTA is the lifeblood of New York City, and I'm proud of the tremendous progress we've made in returning ridership to pre-pandemic levels," Hochul said. "By establishing these fare-free bus pilot routes, we are expanding access to public transportation across the city and improving transit equity to better serve all New Yorkers."
This comes weeks after the first phase of previously announced weekend service increases on the G, J, and M lines.
These enhancements were made possible by a $35 million contribution from the FY 2024 New York State Budget to increase subway service.
The bus routes included in the six to 12-month pilot are Bx18 A/B, B60, M116, Q4 LCL/LTD, and S46/96.
MTA Phasing out the Process
The multi-phase approach will increase service across several train lines during weekday midday, weeknights, and weekends, and the second phase will begin next month, where additional midday and weekend service will be added.
In addition to the increased service, a second R211 train was put in service on the A line last month.
Buses on routes included in the pilot program will be clearly marked "Fare Free" with green and black destination signage, digital signage onboard buses, decals inside the bus, and covers on the farebox and OMNY readers.
The pilot will not include free transfers to other buses or subway lines.