5 MTA bus lines now operate for free for next 6 months

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Here's when free MTA bus rides go into effect in NYC
The MTA pilot program, which launches Sept. 24, will offer free rides on one line in each borough for at least six months. Michelle Charlesworth has the story.

WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn (WABC) -- In a few days, residents in every borough will be able to take rides on a couple of New York City MTA buses for free over the next six months.

That's five free buses, totally free.

Beginning Sunday, passengers won't be charged fares on the following lines: Q4 in Queens, B60 in Brooklyn, M116 in Manhattan, S46/96 in Staten Island, and the Bx18A/B in the Bronx.

The fare-free pilot program is part of the "Fix the MTA" legislative package which was in the state budget.

These buses 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.

State legislators say they hope to eventually make all buses and subway lines free.

"This free bus is not just a socialist dream," said New York State Assemblymember Phara Souffrant-Forrest to Eyewitness News. "It's a reality to New York."

But after the MTA said it lost $600 million last year to fare evasion - a bulk of it was on buses - did the fare evaders win?

"I do believe they caved to fare beaters," said one New Yorker. "They are just afraid to enforce the law."

There's also the anxiety that comes with the word "free." As this program goes into effect, will it also lead to cost of living to go up again?

"It's not a pipe dream," said NY State Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani. "New Jersey has an 11.5% tax rate on corporate profits. We have a 7.25% one in NY - we will tax them. This won't cost average New Yorkers a dime."

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams assures residents this is all a step in the right direction. "We know in cities where they've done this, people take far fewer cars and that's what we want."

The goal here - is eventually to make all buses and subways - free.

ALSO READ | How to find out if you have unclaimed money

Across the nation, more than $20 billion is waiting to be reclaimed by citizens who may not even know they may be owed cash.


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