NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Some New York City bus routes will soon no longer accept fares thanks to a new pilot program that will offer free rides on five routes.
The program, which launches Sept. 24, will offer the free rides on one line in each borough for at least six months.
The selected routes will serve nearly 44,000 riders every week.
The MTA says it looked at ridership, equity and access when selecting the routes in the freebie pilot program it is mandated by state law to implement.
"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 Kathy 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."
Buses on routes included in the pilot program will be clearly marked "Fare Free" with green and black destination signage, digital signs 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 MTA said it lost $600 million last year because of fare evasion -- and a bulk of it was on buses.
"It's certainly unacceptable for our fare paying customers who have told us here as you can see 'I feel like a sucker for paying' so it's incumbent on us to do everything we can possibly do," said NYC Transit President Richard Davey.
The MTA board is expected to pass a 4% fare hike for subways and buses and a 5.5% fare hike on commuter rail and tolls during a meeting Wednesday. The base subway and bus fare is expected to increase 15 cents, from $2.75 to $2.90
Metro North riders west of the Hudson River will not see a fare increase.
The MTA said this summer it will focus on making customers more aware of opportunities to pay lower fares. But after 30 days of that, the MTA will deploy inspectors to enforce bus fare evasion with support from the NYPD.
The bus routes included in the 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 4, B, D 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 3, C, L, G, J, M, Z 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 1, 2, 3, 6, B, C 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 E, J, Z 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 E, J, Z 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 SIR 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.
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News