New York City's bus network is extensive, with approximately 5,800 buses carrying about 2.01 million passengers every day on more than 200 local routes and 30 express routes. Buses owned by MTA account for 80% of the city's surface mass transit. New York City has the largest clean air diesel-hybrid and compressed natural gas bus fleet in the United States.
Buses are labeled with a number and a prefix identifying the primary borough (B for Brooklyn, Bx for the Bronx, M for Manhattan, Q for Queens, and S for Staten Island). Express buses operated under MTA New York City Bus use the letter "x" rather than a borough label. Express buses routes operated under MTA Bus formerly controlled by the NYC Department of Transportation use a two-borough system with M at the end (i.e., BxM, QM, or BM).
Considering that the whole fleet is air conditioned and handicapped accessible, the bus system is quite impressive! The entire city bus fleet, operated by MTA/New York City Transit, is lift-equipped, has kneeling-bus features, wheelchair securement devices, public address systems, and seating spaces reserved for people with disabilities. Personal Care Attendants accompanying the customer can ride free.
Bus fare is $2.00, which you can pay in coins (but not dollar bills) or with a Metrocard. Since the introduction of Metrocard several years ago, you can now transfer free between buses and from bus to subway, as well as enjoy economical day, week and month passes. The minimum cost for a Metrocard is $2. Farecard machines are located in most subway stations, and many newsstands sell Metrocards as well. In addition, various reduced-price fares apply for the elderly and handicapped. If you pay with coins, you may request a bus transfer, but you cannot transfer free to the subway.
Between the nighttime hours of 21:00 and 5:00 "Request-a-Stop" service is available. The bus driver may discharge passengers at a location along the route that is not a bus stop, as long as it is considered safe. If the location is not "safe", the bus operator will discharge passengers at the nearest safe location.
By the way, bus (and subway) maps are free at any subway station token booth. You may also download any borough bus map (PDF format) and information online. On board the bus, you'll also find a large map posted behind the driver's seat. Please note that the seats nearest the driver are designated for the elderly and handicapped. If you take the bus late at night, you may ask the driver to let you off at a specific point along the route; the driver will determine if it is safe to stop there.
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