Are fare-free buses the future for NYC?

In June of 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul announced MTA’s fare free bus pilot program. The pilot was expected to run from September 24, 2023 to March 31, 2024. However, it is still continuing. 

MTA’s bus pilot program chose five bus routes; one in each borough, to be fare free. The buses chosen were the Q4, B60, M116, S46/96, and Bx18A/B. The program was created to study how fare-free transportation would impact the amount of riders and amount of fare evasion in NYC.

“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,” said New York State senator Michael Gianaris on the governor’s website.

As of last year, in August, the MTA train/bus fares were raised from $2.75 to $2.90, but not all New Yorkers can afford to pay $2.90 everyday for transportation. One of the things the fare-free program aims to do is save many New Yorkers the stress of having to pay for transportation everyday. 

According to a survey done by the Community Service Society of New York, “In 2023, 21 percent of moderate-income NYC residents and 10% of high-income residents struggled to afford the bus or subway.”

Free buses would not only benefit low-income communities, but increase the amount of New Yorkers riding on the bus everyday, which is another thing the pilot program hopes to accomplish. 

“With the pilot project for the five bus lines, one in each borough that are free to all riders until March 2024, we are noticing a seven to twenty percent increase in ridership,” said NYC’s transit president Rich Davey in an interview with Our Town NY. 

Now, there are hopes of extending the fare-free bus pilot program from one bus per borough to three buses per borough. This extension was proposed by New York state Senator, Michael Gianaris, and Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani.

“The ‘Get Congestion Pricing Right Act’ directs the MTA to allocate $45 million to expand the fare-free bus pilot program within NYC,” according to the New York State senate website. “It would also increase the frequency and reliability of MTA’s bus system.” 

If the “Get Congestion Pricing Right Act” is passed, it’s possible that fare-free buses will be the future of transportation in NYC. 

Asia Butler

Hello, I’m Asia Butler, a senior at Edison in the IT program. My hobbies include journaling, crocheting, and listening to music. I especially enjoy writing though because it’s a way for me to express my opinions, feelings, and thoughts. I hope you enjoy the pieces I write!