New York City and its various boroughs are served by a large fleet of buses which carry approximately over 666 million people per year. This bus service links areas of the city which are not served by the subway, like the east side and the west side of Manhattan which is not served by the subway but is linked by the many cross-town bus services like the M79, the M96, the M57, the M14 which operate to and from the east to the west side of Manhattan all throughout the day and night.
These New York City buses are of various types with some running on cross town routes, others north to south routes and yet others are deemed express buses that run on express routes. On certain routes in the city there are two kinds of buses which cover the same route but while one type of bus makes all the local stops the other runs ‘limited’ i.e. it makes only certain designated major stops. The M15 which operates north to south on Second Avenue and south to north on First Avenue is one such service which has this variation. In general a local bus will stop every two blocks which sometimes makes the bus journey exceedingly slow especially on the gridlocked streets of Manhattan.
Additionally the buses that operate on Manhattan are marked with the letter M and a number, while the one that serve the borough of Queens are marked with the letter Q and a number. Buses that serve Brooklyn and the Bronx both bear the letter B and a number while on Staten Island they bear the letter S and a number. All signboards located on the top of the windscreen of the bus indicate the bus number and the route that they travel on making it extremely easy to idenify a bus.
Bus Routes and Maps
Bus stops are located on almost every second block and are marked with a pole and a round sign that indicates the number of the bus that stops at that particular bus stop. Some bus stops have shelters and all bus stops have guides posted on them that help the riders to know the schedule and route of the bus that serves that particular bus stop. Maps for all the bus routes that serve New York City can be found on the website of the MTA at: http://www.mta.info/.
A single bus ride in New York City currently costs $2.25 on your MetroCard. However you can also pay cash to the driver as you enter the bus, though you can’t pay with notes and have to tender exact cash preferably with quarters (25 cent coins). People who are eligible for reduced fare cards are entitled to reduced fares during non peak hours. The MTA also operates nearly 30 Express buses on various routes. Most express buses run on weekdays during rush hours only (6am to 10am and 5pm to 7pm). A single ride on the Express Bus costs $5.50 and this can be paid by a pay-per-ride MetroCard or a 7-day Express Bus Pass or exact change.
When you board your bus, you have to dip your MetroCard into the console that is located adjacent to the driver. The machine located here automatically deducts your fare from your MetroCard or registers your transfer. Unlimited ride MetroCards have free transfers while for pay-per-ride MetroCards you are entitled to a free transfer from a bus to a subway, from a subway to a bus or from a bus to bus within two hours of your initial journey (however there are some exceptions). If you are paying your fare in cash you have to drop the coins into the same console and if you need a transfer then you have to ask the driver to issue you with a single use MetroCard which can be generated by the machine.
When you need to get off the bus you have to press one of the strips that are located all over the bus to request the driver to stop at the appropriate bus stop. Please do not press this strip if you are not sure about the location of your stop as it tends to irritate the bus driver. Instead it is advisable to ask a fellow commuter for help. New Yorkers, despite their terrible reputation, are quite accessible and helpful. Once the bus has stopped at your stop you can press the yellow strips that are located on the rear doors to open them and exit the bus. You don’t have to swipe your MetroCard while exiting the bus.
If you are traveling on the bus at night between 10pm and 5am you can actually request the driver to stop at a location which is not a bus stop. If the driver is in agreement and can stop at that particular location he will let you out there or he will stop at the nearest street corner. Public buses, like the subways, run on all seven days of the week, twenty four hours a day.
Buses are a preferred mode of transport for those people who don’t particularly like being ‘trapped’ in a subway underground and they are especially popularly with the elderly and the disabled as they have special provisions for them. For instance, the front seats in the buses are marked as ‘priority’ seats which need to be relinquished for the elderly or the disabled, certain seats can also be lifted to make way for wheelchairs and many buses are equipped with a ‘kneeling’ facility which makes them accessible to people who use walkers and crutches. These public buses are also extensively used by school children and they tend to extremely crowded between 4pm and 5pm, the time during which New York City schools let out.
Out of State Buses
New York City is also well connected by bus services to various destinations in the country. Bus Carriers like the Greyhound, Peter Pan, NJ Transit and coach services like Grey Line all serve the city’s main bus terminal – The Port Authority Bus Terminal which is located at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. Services to cities like Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston from New York City are also provided by several other bus carriers like the Chinatown Buses which leave from stops within New York City’s Chinatown and the Bolt Bus and the Mega Bus which have stops near New York City’s Penn Station.