New York City Bus System
New York City Bus System
The New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) operates the world’s
largest fleet of buses — 4,373 public buses — serving over 666
million people per year. The bus system services routes not served
by the subway system such as crosstown (East-West) routes and
In general, buses stop every 2 blocks making them agonizingly slow,
but for those who have the time to spend it can also double as a
scenic tour of the city. MTA buses also serve as the main mode of
transportation for K-12 students travelling to and from school. From
8-9am and 2-3pm, expect heavy amounts of school children/teens in
The bus authority can be reached at (718) 330-1234; also, the MTA has
a great webpage with tons of information. If you are new to New York, you may want to read our guide to riding buses safely in New York. For buses in and out of the city, see the bus terminals and stations in our guide to The Port Authority.
Exact fare of $2.25 is required, payable using either coins or a
subway token. Transfers to connecting buses are free, and are
usually time stamped to the closest hour. Mag-stripe MetroCards are
Metrocards can be bought on a pay-per-ride basis or an unlimited
ride basis at almost all subway stations. With pay-per-ride, you get
11 rides for the price of ten and you can add more money to your card
if need be. With unlimited ride Metrocards, you can get a 7 day card
for $17 and a 30 day card for $63.
Children under 44″ tall ride for free; senior citizens and disabled
people ride for a reduced fare.
ALL MTA buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts, which allow
wheelchair users to board through the rear door. These “kneeling
buses” also facilitate boarding for mobility impaired passengers
including elderly people, and people with crutches or canes. For
Guide to Riding NYC Buses
1. Go to a Bus Stop
Our blue-and-white buses operate to more than 14,000 bus stops throughout the five boroughs. You are usually no more than a few blocks from one of those stops. Bus stops are located at street corners and have a yellow painted curb and a sign that displays a bus emblem and route number.
Some stops have shelters with large ads.
2. See Which Buses Stop There
Most stops have a “Guide-A-Ride.” This is a rectangular box displaying route maps and schedules. Local-bus routes are designated by a letter followed by a number. Routes with an “M” prefix operate mainly in Manhattan. “B” is for Brooklyn, “Bx” for the Bronx, “Q” for Queens and “S” for Staten Island.
Routes with an “X” prefix are express routes.
Some stops serve more than one bus. Look at the Guide-A-Ride to make sure the bus you want will be stopping there. Buses display their route number on the front, and sometimes the back.
On some of our heavily used bus routes, we offer limited-stop service in both directions to make the trip faster for more customers. You’ll know whether the bus that arrives is making limited stops if you see an orange “Limited” card in the bus window. Limited stops are at major intersections, transfer points, and major attractions, such as Lincoln Center.
Locals make all stops.
3. Board the Bus
When the bus with the route number you want arrives, stay on the curb until the bus stops and the front doors open.
All our buses can “kneel”; that is, they can tilt down toward the curb to make boarding easier. People unable to walk up the front steps of the bus may board using the wheelchair lift. The bus operator has a key to operate this lift, which is located at the rear of the bus.
If you’re not sure whether the bus goes where you need to go, ask your bus driver. The driver knows how to get around the city.
4. Pay Your Fare
The fare box is directly in front of you as you board the bus. You need the exact fare — $2.25 in nickels, dimes, and quarters or a subway token. Our bus operators don’t make change and fare boxes don’t accept dollar bills or pennies.
MetroCards, available at subway stations, can also be used to pay your fare on buses. Up to three children can ride buses free when they’re accompanied by an adult. (To qualify for a free fare, a child has to be under 44 inches or 111cm tall.)
5. Ask for a Transfer, If You Need One
You can transfer for free between most buses with intersecting routes. Request a transfer ticket from your driver after you pay your fare. A list of each valid transfer point for your route is on the front of the transfer. When you catch your connecting bus, give the transfer to your driver.
Transfers are allowed only to continue your trip in a single direction and are only valid for one hour. They cannot be used for your return trip on the same bus line.
6. Ride Safely
If there is no seat available, use the grab bars for balance and move to the back of the bus. There’s usually more room there. For the safety and convenience of your fellow passengers, we also ask you to keep your packages and personal belongings out of the aisles.
7. Signal the Driver to Stop
For the driver to stop the bus where you want to get off, push the tape strip located above and beside the windows. You need to signal your driver about one block before your desired stop. The bus will stop at the route’s next stop.
Stops are every 2-3 blocks, except for limiteds.
8. Get Off the Bus
Try to stay in your seat until the bus stops. To keep out of the way of people trying to board, exit through the rear doors. Once the bus stops, you’ll see a green light over these doors to indicate that they can be opened. In some buses, these doors open automatically when you press the tape strip located on the doors.