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ICYMI: Governor Hochul Announces Fare Free Bus Routes Included in MTA Pilot

New York City Transit
Updated July 17, 2023 1:15 p.m.

Pilot Program Adds One Fare Free Bus Route in Each Borough; Routes Include Bx18 A/B, B60, M116, Q4 LCL/LTD, and S46/96

Selected Routes Serve 43,900 Weekday Riders 

FY 2024 Budget Makes Additional Investments in Transit, Including Increased Subway Service During Weekday Midday, Weeknights, and on Weekends


Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the 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," Governor 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."

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, "We have championed innovation and creative thinking across the transportation network and look forward to seeing how New Yorkers respond to this pilot program. I want to thank Governor Hochul and the State Legislature for providing funding that makes it possible to launch this limited experiment."

New York City Transit President Richard Davey said, "Our team worked hard to ensure the five routes that were chosen for this pilot will benefit New Yorkers who rely on buses to get them where they need to go. I want to thank Governor Hochul for her leadership and ensuring mass transit remains a safe and affordable option for the millions of riders who use it."

This comes weeks after the first phase of previously announced weekend service increases on the   and  lines. These enhancements were made possible by a $35 million contribution from the FY 2024 New York State Budget to increase subway service. 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   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 farebox and OMNY readers. The pilot will not include free transfers to other buses or subway lines.

The bus routes included in the six to twelve month pilot are:

Bx18 A/B:  Operating daily during daytime hours between Undercliff Avenue or Sedgwick Avenue and Grand Concourse/E 170 Street, the Bx18 A/B bus route travels along Macombs Road, Tremont Avenue, Undercliff Avenue/Sedgwick Avenue, 168 Street and 170 Street. It serves Morris Heights, Highbridge and Mount Eden neighborhoods and connects to the   trains and several other bus routes. Major employers and institutions covered on the route include Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center and Bronx Community College.

B60: The B60 bus route operates between Williams Avenue/Flatlands Avenue in Canarsie and Williamsburg Bridge Plaza. The route operates primarily along Rockaway Avenue and Wilson Avenue and serves the Canarsie, Brownsville, Ocean Hill, Bushwick and Williamsburg neighborhoods. It makes connections to the   trains and several other bus routes. Major employers and institutions covered on the route include Brookdale University Hospital & Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhul.

M116: This bus route operates daily during daytime hours between W 106 Street /Broadway and E 120 Street/Pleasant Avenue. The route primarily operates along 116 Street, Manhattan Avenue and W 106 Street and serves the Harlem, East Harlem and Morningside Heights neighborhoods. The route makes connections to the   trains and several bus routes. Major employers and institutions covered on the route include St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University and the East River Plaza Mall.

Q4 LCL/LTD: The Q4 LCL/LTD bus route operates between the Jamaica Ctr-Parsons/Archer   subway station and Linden Boulevard/235 Street. Some buses operate as Limited-Stop during morning and afternoon rush hours on weekdays. The route primarily operates on Linden Boulevard, Merrick Boulevard and Archer Avenue and serves the Jamaica Center, South Jamaica, St. Albans and Cambria Heights neighborhoods. It makes connections to the   trains, the St. Albans Long Island Rail Road station and several bus routes. Major employers and institutions covered on the route include Jamaica Center, York College and the St. Albans VA Hospital.

S46/96: Operating between South Avenue, West Shore Plaza Shopping Center and the St. George Ferry Terminal, he S46 local route operates at all times and the S96 Limited route operates on weekdays only in the peak period, peak direction. The route primarily operates along Castleton Avenue, Victory Boulevard, Walker Street/Brabant Street and South Avenue. It serves the St. George, Tompkinsville, West New Brighton, Port Richmond, Elm Park, Arlington, Bloomfield and Chelsea neighborhoods and makes connections to the   and Staten Island Ferry. Major employers and institutions covered on the route include the NY Empire Outlets, Richmond University Medical Center, West Shore Plaza and the Forest Promenade Shopping Plaza.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "The MTA is a central part of New Yorkers daily lives, and I am proud that in this year's budget we secured the fare free bus pilot to continue making transportation more accessible. This pilot program comes at a crucial time to help address affordability and ensures we are providing New Yorkers a dependable way to commute to jobs, doctors appointments, schools, and daily errands with reliability."

State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said, "Free bus routes are exactly the type of innovation we need to revolutionize our approach to public transit and get more people back in the system. We have taken the MTA off the express track towards fiscal calamity and are delivering a better system for riders. I appreciate the partnership of Assembly Member Mamdani, Governor Hochul, MTA leadership, and the many advocates who stood up for these important and needed changes."

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, "When we invest in the physical and financial accessibility of New Yorkers, we're ultimately investing in our workforce and our greater economy. We've seen other cities across the country roll out similar fare free programs, only to see a boost in overall ridership across several routes. Our hope is that this program will do the same here in New York, and that we can rebuild and strengthen public transit use in a post-pandemic world."

State Senator Leroy Comrie said,“I am excited to see Governor Hochul and the State Legislature's 2024 budget commitments to improving public transportation in our communities in action. The fare-free bus pilot program is a great step towards both making transportation more accessible for all residents, especially those from low-income and economically disadvantaged communities and reducing congestion. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this program and additional transit investments will have on our city."

State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said, "The MTA continues to make significant investments to improve access to transit. Providing free rides on the B60 bus line beginning in the fall will be an asset to the community, and the service will be utilized by thousands of commuters daily.  Making transit options accessible and affordable is a step in the right direction."

State Senator Luis Sepúlveda said, "Investing in fare free bus routes is a significant step towards a more equitable and accessible public transportation system. Governor Hochul's announcement demonstrates a commitment to addressing the needs of diverse communities, ensuring that everyone has access to reliable and affordable transportation. By prioritizing factors such as ridership, equity, and access to employment, this pilot program sets the stage for a more inclusive future, where transportation barriers are dismantled, and opportunities for economic growth and mobility are expanded for all."

State Senator Cordell Cleare said, "Too often when we think of the viability and affordability of our communities, we leave transportation out of the conversation. In fact, when transportation is affordable and accessible, our neighborhoods are strengthened because getting to school, work, and medical appointments, are necessary to everyone's quality of life. Picking the route along 116th Street is a wise choice that shows that our State is pinpointing areas where affordability for basic services is becoming more and more difficult. Most of the residents in my district and throughout the City, rely on public transportation. While there is more to be done, this is a welcome step in the right direction."

State Senator Robert Jackson said, "In pursuit of equitable transportation, the MTA embarks on a transformative journey, embracing progress and compassion. I applaud the Governor and commend the MTA for rapidly implementing the groundbreaking fare free bus pilot program instituted in partnership with the NY legislature. This initiative will breathe new life into our transportation system, serving as vital conduits that connect with the pulse of working-class New Yorkers daily. It will ensure that mass transit remains a safe and affordable option for my constituents while providing enhanced services and easier access in our community. The positive and lasting impact of this program will extend beyond my district, benefiting our entire city."

State Senator Jose M. Serrano said, “New Yorkers throughout our communities deserve greater access to the lifeblood of our city - public transportation. I am excited that my senate district will have two routes as part of Fare Free program, the BX18 A/B and the M116. Many thanks to Governor Hochul, my colleagues in the Legislature, and the MTA for this vitally important program.”

State Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton said, "This pilot program is a significant step towards a more equitable transportation system here in New York City. In a similar way to the Staten Island Ferry system, this Free Fare Bus Route will help keep commutes affordable for residents. Whether you're traveling to the ferry or trying to get from Tompkinsville to West Brighton, this particular route will help countless Staten Islanders save money, while also getting them to their destination safely."

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "This pilot program will help thousands of New Yorkers who rely on buses to get to work, to school, to get to medical appoints and more. It was a priority for many of my Assembly Majority colleagues, and we look forward to seeing how it impacts our communities. We have one of the hardest working transit systems in the country, and we will continue working to find ways to ensure the MTA can better serve the families who depend on it every day."

Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski said, "These free bus routes are part of our efforts to innovate in our mass transit system. It has been great to work with Governor Hochul, Janno Lieber, Speaker Heastie and several key assembly members this year to increase service, reliability and affordability."

Assemblymember Zohran K. Mamdani said, "Fare free buses will bring economic relief to working class New Yorkers at a time when they need it most. And it is those very New Yorkers who led the fight for this first-of-its-kind pilot - with more than 4,000 of them canvassing their local subway and bus stops, reaching out to their elected representatives, and rallying to make public transit across our City excellent, safe and universally accessible. In Boston and Kansas City, where fare free buses have been implemented, they have sped up travel times, made buses safer, and increased access to essential services. I can't wait to see these same outcomes for our neighbors along routes in each of the five boroughs and I am thankful for the work of all of my colleagues, Speaker Heastie, and the Governor in transforming this dream into a reality."

Assemblymember Erik Dilan said, "Excited that Governor Hochul chose the B60 Bus line for free service. It's a huge win for North Brooklyn Residents, especially for Bushwick where the B60 runs across Wilson Ave. Can't thank Governor Hochul enough, this free service will help people so much in the North Brooklyn area!"

Assemblymember Clyde Vanel said, "We are excited that the commuters in our district will take advantage of the fare free bus program. We will continue to work to improve our transportation system."

Assemblymember Maritza Davila said, "New York City is progressively growing and our Inter-City transit system has been the backbone of our community, helping commuters get to their destination. The fare free bus service program will not provide more accessibility but can encourage more commuters and potentially reduce traffic congestion. There's a range of other benefits to this program as it relates to our social equity, environment, health and overall quality of life. I'm elated to see the program come into fruition and hope that the people of New York truly benefit from it, as we know our public transposition system is a necessity that is vital to our livelihood."

Assemblymember Inez Dickens said, "As many of our residents continue to suffer from the difficulty of extending their dollars to make ends meet, I welcome the proposal from both Governor Kathy Hochul and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to allow riders to board, for free, multiple bus lines across our city, including the M116 which runs through my district.  This is a welcomed relief for those who use it to get across town to access numerous train lines or get to certain destinations within the district. This will be viewed as a much-needed relief for those who use these lines on a day to day basis."

Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell said, "The need for accessible public transportation in New York City cannot be overstated. It's a pivotal element in the economic advancement of New York City, and I applaud Assembly Member Mamdani's steadfast efforts to champion that every New Yorker should have access to reliable, accessible transit. The MTA's fare free initiative on the M116 bus is a testament to our commitment to creating more equitable public transit choices - a move that brings us one step closer to enhancing the quality of life for all New Yorkers."

Assemblymember Nikki Lucas said, "This pilot program for free ridership on the B60 will give or local residents some financial relief as expenses continue to skyrocket on everything from groceries to services. I am hopeful that this pilot program can become permanent for seniors and low income members of my district, who might need to use the B60 for short trips in and around the district."

Assemblymember Amanda Septimo said, "Taking steps towards a fare free bus New York City bus system moves us closer to transit justice, and most importantly, economic justice. This fare free bus pilot program will do so much to advance the idea that all New Yorkers deserve access to fast, reliable, safe public transit by removing the barrier of the fare. I am confident that this pilot program will lead to safer working conditions for our transit workers, who will no longer need to enforce fare rules, and create a more positive experience overall for riders. None of this would be possible without the steadfast leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie, who has demonstrated the Assembly's commitment to building a transit system that leaves no one behind."

Assemblymember Latrice Walker said, "I was immediately on board with the pilot program, as soon as I learned about it. I'm even more excited to learn that relief is coming to people who depend on the B60 bus, which runs through my district. The transit system is uniquely designed to link millions of New Yorkers across the five boroughs to their jobs, schools, churches, medical appointments and to their families. People in my district need this break. The transit system works best when we all have access. Let's roll."

Assemblymember Alicia L. Hyndman said, "With the 2023 budget passing in early May, the Fare Free Pilot Program with the MTA passed as well. This program will allow for a free bus line to run in each borough, and in Queens that line will be the Q4. The program will last from six to twelve months, with an anticipatory start date of Fall 2023. The implementation of this program will be a relief to constituents in every borough."

Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs said, "Access to public transportation is a life link for thousands of residents in my district. Having the M116 bus route now "fare free" will lessen the financial burden many of our neighbors will capitalize on to get to where they need to be - whether that be work, school, visiting friends and family, or even accessing food and necessary healthcare. When we talk about leveling the playing field for everyone, we have to remember to talk about transportation. I'm grateful to the Governor for pushing this important program and excited that the MTA has made it happen."

Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia said, "I commend Governor Hochul for launching the fare-free bus pilot program, which will benefit thousands of daily riders in each borough. This initiative demonstrates a commitment to equity, ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to reliable transportation regardless of their economic circumstances. By considering key factors such as ridership, service adequacy, and access to employment, this program will effectively address the needs of our diverse communities, particularly the unique needs for the Bronx and my district, the 86th which includes the neighborhoods of Tremont, Morris Heights, and Fordham among others. The MTA's fare-free bus pilot program aligns with our shared goal of promoting affordable and accessible transportation options. By prioritizing the needs of low-income and economically disadvantaged communities, we are ensuring that transportation barriers are lifted, providing vital opportunities for economic growth and social mobility."

Representative Hakeem Jeffries said, "The B60 bus is a vital lifeline for many of the communities I am privileged to represent in Canarsie, Brownsville and Ocean Hill. Creating affordable access to transportation is a major step in the push to lower costs, provide good-paying jobs and expand economic opportunity across our city and state. I applaud Governor Hochul and the MTA for bringing this pilot program to life."

Representative Grace Meng said, "I have called for free transit for New Yorkers and have cosponsored legislation that aims to eliminate fares on public transportation. I am thrilled to see this pilot program for free buses move forward, and hope it expands throughout our city. Thanks to Governor Hochul for supporting this important initiative."

Representative Adriano Espaillat said, "New York City's public transit is one of the largest in the world and we are making great strides to ensure it continues to be more accessible and affordable for all. The new 2024 New York State Budget provides additional investments in transit to ensure 'Fare Free' buses are available throughout each borough. I commend Governor Hochul on today's initiative of 'Fare Free' buses that will serve tens of thousands of New Yorkers weekly. This is a crucial step to expand our efforts to increase equity for all New Yorkers, and guarantee that everyone has the means to commute to school, medical appointments, work, and so much more."

Representative Dan Goldman said, "I am encouraged to see the launch of fare free bus routes across our city to keep New Yorkers connected. Our world class public transit system is the lifeblood of our New York, and this is an exciting and much needed initial expansion of service accessibility for underserved communities who would most benefit. I hope to see this pilot program succeed and grow to serve other communities across New York's 10th Congressional district and the rest of city that would similarly benefit."

Deputy Speaker of the New York City Council Diana Ayala said, "For low-income and economically disadvantaged communities, transportation costs is an added expense that eats away into their ability to provide themselves and their families with other necessities. The free-fare pilot program for the M116 bus line is a wonderful opportunity to remove the cost barrier associated with transportation and show the positive impact a program like this can have on families."

Councilmember Nantasha Williams said, "I am happy to have this community selected for the fare free pilot program and hope it has a positive impact on my constituents. Bus transit is the lifeblood of many in this community. By providing free fares we will improve the lives of riders."

Councilmember Lincoln Restler said, "Free buses are faster buses and I am thrilled that the B60 will be taking riders in and out of Williamsburg every day at no cost! Affordable and reliable public transportation pays dividends by creating economic opportunity and improving quality of life."

Councilmember Shaun Abreu said, "The M116 bus line is one of the fastest and only methods to get from one end of Harlem to the other. It runs through the veins of our neighborhoods. An affordability crisis threatens this access, however, putting public transportation out of reach for many New Yorkers. Our city needs to step up. I applaud the MTA for expanding the Fair Fares program to ease the burden on our community and ensure that the M116 is available for those that need it the most."

Councilmember Kamillah Hanks said, "I applaud Governor Hochul's announcement of the fare-free bus pilot program on the S46/96 route. This initiative will provide significant benefits to the diverse communities it serves, prioritizing equity, accessibility, and affordability, and will enhance mass transit options for thousands of riders who rely on buses every day."

Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse said, "I am in full support of the fare-free bus pilot program and I am happy that the B60, which serves parts of District 46, has been selected as Brooklyn's fare-free route. I am confident that this program will help revitalize our local bus routes, grow ridership, and most importantly increase access to our public transportation system for low-income New Yorkers."

Councilmember Pierina Sanchez said, "The BX18 fare-free bus route is a significant step forward for Bronxites, benefiting transit-critical residents, over 70% of which live within Council District 14, and ensuring rider equity. This pilot will support economically disadvantaged residents, attract new riders, and improve the overall rider experience. Additionally, considering its environmental impact, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality, this milestone showcases the Governor's commitment to a greener, more equitable, and efficient transportation system, bringing positive changes to this District."

Councilmember Althea Stevens said, "I’m pleased with the city’s continued investment to ensure that we are creating transportation equity for our communities that are historically underserved. When we remove the barriers of cost, we begin to cultivate a world of opportunities for our community members, regardless of their socioeconomic background.”

Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson said, "Prioritizing accessibility and affordability for transit riders is critical as many of our residents and families continue to experience financial hardship. By implementing the MTA's Fare Free Bus Routes pilot program, the MTA is demonstrating its commitment to transit equity. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul and the MTA for this initiative and for prioritizing those most in need."

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, “Making a vital crosstown bus route like the M116 fare free will be a welcome relief to the New Yorkers struggling to stretch every dollar, made all the more valuable by the increased reliability of the M116 thanks to a quicker boarding process. This pilot will be an important model for transit equity moving forward.”