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Riding the bus

Updated Oct 26, 2020
Find out how to board and ride New York City buses, what the fare is, how to find schedules and routes, and more.

About New York City buses

There are several kinds of buses in New York City, including:

  • Local buses
  • Express buses, which look like coach buses and run between boroughs. Many operate only during weekday rush hours.
  • Select Bus Service (SBS) buses, which are marked with “SBS+” and are often blue and gold. Pay the fare for SBS buses before you board.
  • Limited buses, which look similar to local buses but make fewer stops. Look for "LTD" on the front of the bus.

All city buses are accessible for riders who use a wheelchair. See our guide to accessible bus travel for more.

Here are schedules and maps for bus routes.

For real-time service information, maps, schedules, and more, download the MYmta app on your iPhone or Android phone.

 

Tips for riding

  • Don’t block seats or aisles.
  • When your stop is approaching, push one of the tape strips between the windows or a stop button on one of the grab bars.
  • Don’t stand in the stairwell or doorway while the bus is moving.
  • Fold strollers before you board and keep them folded during your ride.
  • For help planning a trip, call 511. You can also use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay.

About bus fares

  • Local buses: $2.75 for most riders, or a swipe on an Unlimited Ride MetroCard
  • SBS buses: $2.75 for most riders, or a swipe on an Unlimited Ride MetroCard
  • Express buses: $6.75 for most riders. You can’t use a regular Unlimited Ride MetroCard on express buses. You can only use a 7-day Express Bus Plus MetroCard.

Other fare information

  • People who are 65 or older, or who have a qualifying disability, are eligible for reduced fare.
  • You can buy a SingleRide ticket for $3. These are only sold at vending machines.

Select Bus Service SBS Bus Stop Kiosk

A blue and gold bus with "SBS" near the route information approaches a bus stop. Kiosks are visible on the sidewalk nearby, with signs saying "Get tickets here."
Look for ticket kiosks on the sidewalk near Select Bus Service stops. Pay your fare before you board.

Ways you can pay the fare

Local and limited buses

With a MetroCard

  1. Board via the front door.
  2. Insert your MetroCard into the farebox near the driver, with the front of the card facing you and the black strip on the right.

With a contactless card or smart device (only available buses with OMNY readers onboard)

  1. Board through the front doors and tap your card or device at the OMNY reader.

With exact change in coins

  1. Board via the front door.
  2. Insert exact change into the farebox.

 

Express buses

With a MetroCard

  1. Board via the front door.
  2. Insert your MetroCard into the farebox near the driver, with the front of the card facing you and the black strip on the right.

Transferring to an express bus from a local bus or the subway just costs the fare difference.

 

SBS buses

With a MetroCard

  1. Look for a ticket kiosks on the sidewalk near the bus stop.
  2. Press the start button and insert your MetroCard as shown on the kiosk.
  3. Take the paper SBS ticket that the machine prints.

With a contactless card or digital wallet (only available buses with OMNY readers onboard)

  1. Skip the sidewalk kiosks and board through any door.
  2. Tap your card or smart device at the OMNY reader.

With exact change in coins

  1. Look for a sidewalk kiosk that has a slot for coins instead of a MetroCard.
  2. Insert exact change. (You won’t get change if you overpay.) You can’t use more than 25 coins to pay the fare.
  3. Take the paper SBS ticket that the machine prints.

Where the bus stops

Bus stops are marked with a tall, round sign with a bus symbol and route number. (The MTA lingo for these signs is “lollipops.”) Some stops also have bus shelters.

How to board the bus

Stay on the curb until the bus stops and the doors open.

Some buses “kneel,” or tilt down toward the curb, so you can board more easily.

Requesting a stop during late nights

From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., you can ask your bus operator to let you off at locations that aren't bus stops. They'll find a safe place along the route to stop the bus.

You can only request stops on local and express bus routes. You cannot request a stop on limited-stop bus service, Select Bus Service, the nonstop portion of express bus service, or shuttle bus service.

 

A blue, white, and red sign with a white icon on top and the "S53" down below.
Bus stop signs have route numbers printed on them, with a bus icon printed in a circle on top.
People line up to board a bus at a bus stop in the Bronx. The blue and white bus stop sign is visible in the foreground, with a bus shelter visible in the background.
Look for bus stop signs to know where to board. Some stops have bus shelters and some don’t.

How to use your MetroCard on a bus

  • Hold your MetroCard with the logo on the front facing you, with the black magnetic strip on the right side.
  • Insert your card into the farebox. Your fare will be deducted automatically and your card will pop back out.
A MetroCard being inserted into a bus farebox, with the magnetic strip visible on the right side of the card.
Insert your MetroCard with the logo facing you and the magnetic strip on the front right side of the card.
A woman wearing a coat and hat smiles at a bus operator as she inserts her MetroCard into the farebox at the front of a bus.
The farebox is directly in front of you as you board.

How to transfer

With a MetroCard

You can transfer for free between local bus routes and local buses and subways. (The transfer gets encoded on your MetroCard. You’ll swipe it again, but you won’t be charged.) Transfers are good within two hours of when you paid the fare.

Using an OMNY reader

You don’t need a paper tickets to transfer to another bus. Use the same card or device throughout your journey and transfers will be applied automatically. OMNY is not available systemwide just yet, so plan ahead, especially if you need to make transfers during part of your journey where OMNY is not yet available.

With exact change

If you paid in coins, you can transfer between local buses with intersecting routes within two hours of paying the fare. You do this by showing a printed transfer. Ask the bus operator for a transfer if you need one.

Other tips

  • Transferring to an express bus from a local bus or the subway just costs the fare difference.
  • If you transfer from a local to a Select Bus Service bus, make sure to get an SBS ticket from a sidewalk kiosk before you board.