July 17, 2023 By Czarinna Andres
In a bold move to reshape public transit in New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has unveiled a pilot program for five free bus routes across the five boroughs.
The introduction of the fare-free bus program follows extensive advocacy efforts by Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and Queens Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani during the state budget process.
Both Gianaris and Mamdani have voiced enthusiastic support for the initiative. Gianaris asserts that such innovative measures are necessary to reinvigorate the public transit system and steer the MTA away from financial troubles.
Meanwhile, Mamdani emphasizes that the fare-free buses will bring vital economic relief to working-class New Yorkers in a critical time. He pointed out the proven positive outcomes in cities such as Boston and Kansas City, where similar programs have resulted in quicker travel times, safer buses, and greater access to essential services.
In Queens, the pilot program is the Q4 LCL/LTD bus route, which operates between the Jamaica Ctr-Parsons/Archer subway station and Linden Boulevard. Serving neighborhoods including Jamaica Center, South Jamaica, St. Albans and Cambria Heights, the Q4 route provides a vital connection for these communities to essential services. Major employers and institutions along the route include Jamaica Center, York College, and the St. Albans VA Hospital.
During peak weekday hours, some Q4 buses operate as limited-stop, providing faster service for passengers. This route also connects to the E, J, Z trains and the St. Albans Long Island Rail Road station, further enhancing the public transit options for riders in these areas.
By focusing on routes like the Q4, the MTA aims to provide better, more equitable public transit services across the city. The initiative, backed by Gianaris, Mamdani and other officials, is being hailed as a major step forward in the transformation of public transit in New York City.
The routes in the other boroughs included in the pilot program are:
Bronx Bx18 A/B: Operating daily during daytime hours, this route connects the neighborhoods of Morris Heights, Highbridge and Mount Eden, serving institutions like Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center and Bronx Community College.
Brooklyn B60: This route operates between Canarsie and Williamsburg Bridge Plaza, serving neighborhoods like Canarsie, Brownsville, Ocean Hill, Bushwick and Williamsburg, and institutions such as Brookdale University Hospital & Medical Center and NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull.
Manhattan M116: This route operates daily during daytime hours, serving the Harlem, East Harlem, and Morningside Heights neighborhoods and making connections to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University and the East River Plaza Mall.
Staten Island SD S46/96: This route operates between South Avenue, West Shore Plaza Shopping Center and the St. George Ferry Terminal, serving neighborhoods like St. George, Tompkinsville, West New Brighton and others. It also connects to the NY Empire Outlets, Richmond University Medical Center and West Shore Plaza.
This pilot program will test the feasibility of a fare-free system and potentially set the stage for broader changes in public transit across New York City.