MTA announces fare-free bus pilot on five routes to enhance transit equity
MTA’s programme aims to improve transit equity, expand access to public transportation and serve as a vital step towards returning ridership to pre-pandemic levels.
Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Governor Kathy Hochul has announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will initiate a fare-free bus pilot programme on five routes across New York City. The selected routes, one in each borough, will collectively serve approximately 43,900 daily weekday riders starting in late September 2023 for a duration of six to 12 months. The routes have been chosen based on various factors, such as ridership, fare evasion, service adequacy, equity for low-income communities and accessibility to employment and commercial areas.
“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 programme. 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 announcement follows the recent implementation of service enhancements on the G, J and M subway lines during weekends. The improvements have been made possible by a $35 million contribution from the New York State Budget for the fiscal year 2024, with further phases planned to increase service during weekday midday, weeknights and weekends.
During the fare-free bus pilot programme, buses on the selected routes will be clearly labelled as “Fare Free” through signage and decals. However, free transfers to other buses or subway lines will not be provided.
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