MTA Regional Bus Operations
|Parent||Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
|Founded||May 7, 2008|
|Headquarters||2 Broadway, New York, NY 10004-2207|
|Locale||New York metropolitan area|
|Service area||New York City|
|Service type||Local, limited-stop, bus rapid transit, and express bus service|
|Daily ridership||2.2 million (2013)|
|Chief executive||James L Ferrara (NYCT)
Darryl Irick (MTA Bus)
- 1 History
- 2 Brands and service area
- 3 Operations
- 4 Bus stops
- 5 Fleet
- 6 Fares
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The history of the MTA's bus operations generally follows the history of the New York City Transit Authority, also known as MTA New York City Transit (NYCT), which was created in 1953 by the State of New York to take over operations then operated by the New York City Board of Transportation. In 1962 the State established the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA) as a subsidiary of NYCT to take over operations then operated by two private companies, Fifth Avenue Coach Lines, Inc. and Surface Transit, Inc. Both NYCT and MaBSTOA operate service pursuant to a lease agreement with the City of New York.
The current system came into being in the mid-2000s following the MTA's assumption, through its subsidiary MTA Bus Company (MTABC), of services previously operated by private carriers under operating authority agreements administered by the New York City Department of Transportation, the successor to the New York City Bureau of Franchises. MTABC operates service pursuant to an agreement with the City of New York under which all expenses of MTABC, less operating revenues, are reimbursed. This brought almost all bus transportation in New York City under its control.
After the bus mergers were completed in 2006, the MTA then moved to streamline its operations through consolidation of management function. To that effect, RBO was officially created in May 2008, with the president of what was then MTA New York City Transit's Department of Buses, Joseph J. Smith, named to lead the consolidated bus operations. MTA Regional Bus also included the MTA Long Island Bus division until January 2012, when its services were transferred to a private operator by Nassau County (see below for more information).
Currently, many RBO's operational changes have been at the management level, with the creation of a unified command center and consolidation of management for all bus operations, with the aim of reducing redundancies in the agency. Other changes have included eliminating the MTA Bus call center, folding it into that of MTA New York City Transit, and the unification of the fare policy for all of the MTA's services.
Brands and service area
Regional Bus Operations is currently only used in official documentation, and not publicly as a brand. The current public brands are listed below:
- MTA New York City Bus – most routes within the City of New York, operated by the New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) and subsidiary Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority.
- MTA Bus – service previously administered by the New York City Department of Transportation and operated by seven companies at the time of takeover, concentrated in Queens, with some routes in Brooklyn, and most express service from Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx to Manhattan. The seven former companies were, Command Bus Company, Inc.; Green Bus Lines, Inc.; Jamaica Buses, Inc., Liberty Lines Express, Inc.; New York Bus Service, Inc.; Queens Surface Corp.; and Triboro Coach Corp.
The current scheme (except for #2185, with a special 9/11 memorial scheme) is a straight blue stripe across the sides of the bus against a white base, with no colors on the front or back, and black window trim. From 1977 until late 2007, (and still present on much of the fleet), the livery was a full all-around stripe with a black rear, and until late 2010 (and still present on buses repainted during this time), the scheme was a stripe with a blank rear. Buses operated in Select Bus Service bus rapid transit service are wrapped with a light blue-and-white wrap below the windows.
Access-A-Ride paratransit services are provided by various independent contractors, using vehicles owned by the MTA.
In addition, MTA Regional Bus Operations operated bus and paratransit service in Nassau County under the name Long Island Bus until December 31, 2011. This service was operated by the MTA under an agreement with Nassau County, who owned its facilities and equipment. In 2011, the MTA asked Nassau County to provide more funding for Long Island Bus than they were at the time. The county refused to provide additional funding, and the MTA voted to end operation of the system at the end of 2011. The county then decided to hire Veolia Transportation, a private transportation company, to operate the system in place of the MTA beginning in 2012.
History of MTA New York City Bus
City involvement with surface transit in the city began in September 1919, when Mayor John Francis Hylan, through the New York City Department of Plant and Structures, organized private entrepreneurs to operate "emergency" buses to replace four abandoned storage battery streetcar lines: the Madison Street Line, Spring and Delancey Streets Line, Avenue C Line, and Sixth Avenue Ferry Line. Many routes were soon added, replacing lines such as the Brooklyn and North River Line (trolleys) and Queens Bus Lines (buses), and the DP&S also began operating trolleys in Staten Island to replace the Staten Island Midland Railway's system. Eventually all of these routes were transferred to private management.
Another city acquisition was the Bridge Operating Company, which ran the Williamsburg Bridge Local trolley, acquired in 1921 by the DP&S. Unlike the other lines, this one remained city-operated, and was replaced by the B39 bus route on December 5, 1948, by then transferred to the New York City Board of Transportation.
On February 23, 1947, the Board of Transportation took over the Staten Island bus network of the Isle Transportation Company. Further acquisitions were made on March 30, 1947, with the North Shore Bus Company in Queens, and September 24, 1948, with the East Side Omnibus Corporation and Comprehensive Omnibus Corporation in Manhattan. With the city takeover of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation's surface subsidiary, the Brooklyn and Queens Transit Corporation, on June 2, 1940, the city gained a large network of trolley and bus lines, covering all of Brooklyn and portions of Queens. The final Brooklyn trolleys were the Church Avenue Line and McDonald Avenue Line, discontinued on October 31, 1956, though the privately operated (by the Queensboro Bridge Railway) Queensboro Bridge Local remained until 1957.
Thus, in the late 1950s, the city operated all local service in Staten Island and Brooklyn, about half the local service in Queens, and several routes in Manhattan. Several private companies operated buses in Queens, and the Avenue B and East Broadway Transit Company operated a small Manhattan system, but by far the largest system was the Fifth Avenue Coach Company and Surface Transit, which operated almost all Manhattan routes and all Bronx routes, plus two into Queens (15 Fifth Avenue - Jackson Heights and TB Triborough Bridge) and one within Queens (16 Elmhurst Crosstown). After a strike in 1962, the city condemned the assets of the bus companies. To facilitate the anticipated sale of the bus service back to private ownership, a new agency, the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA) was formed as a subsidiary of the New York City Transit Authority to operate the former Fifth Avenue Coach Lines, Inc. and Surface Transit, Inc. routes under lease from the city. The final acquisition was in 1980, when MaBSTOA took over operations of the Avenue B & East Broadway Transit Co. Inc.'s routes, using MaBSTOA equipment with Avenue B red route roll signs (NYCTA acquired the 13 Grumman Flxibles that had been assigned to Avenue B and placed them in NYCTA service). Public takeover of the remaining Queens buses, as well as most express routes, was implemented in 2005 and 2006 when the city purchased the assets of seven private bus companies, and entered into an agreement with the new MTA Bus Company for their operation and funding. In 2008, the bus operations of New York City Transit and MTA Bus Company (as well as the now former Long Island Bus division) were merged into a new regional operation, MTA Regional Bus Operations. The New York City Bus brand continues to be used. However, New York City Transit Authority, Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, and MTA Bus Company continue to be the legal entities operating the services.
History of MTA Bus
The routes were taken over on a staggered schedule, beginning with the former Liberty Lines Express bus routes on January 3, 2005, Queens Surface Corporation bus routes on February 27, 2005, New York Bus Service bus routes on July 1, 2005, Command Bus Company bus routes on December 5, 2005, Green Bus Lines bus routes on January 9, 2006, and Jamaica Buses bus routes on January 30, 2006. Triboro Coach Corporation, the final remaining company, ceased operating and its routes have been operated by MTA Bus since February 20, 2006.
Currently, the only NYCDOT-subsidized lines not consolidated into MTA Bus are those run by Academy Bus and formerly by Atlantic Express until their bankruptcy in 2013. Academy Bus previously operated those routes and others until 2001, when Atlantic Express and NYCT took them over.  Although the X23, and X24 routes were absorbed by Atlantic Express, the X17J, X21, X22, and X30 routes were absorbed by the New York City Transit Authority. NYCT discontinued service on the X21 months after the takeover. Recently, NYS Assemblyman Lou Tobacco and NYS Senator Andrew Lanza, along with U.S. Congressman Michael E. McMahon and NYC Councilmen Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo have asked the MTA to look into the possible consolidation of the remainder of the NYCDOT routes. In Brooklyn, a company called Private Transportation operates the B110 route; this is franchised but not subsidized by NYCDOT. Atlantic Express also ran the AE7 express route from Travis, Staten Island and Tottenville, Staten Island in the same manner as the Private Transportation B110 local route. Citing low ridership and increased costs, Atlantic Express canceled the AE7 service on December 31, 2010. Councilmen Ignizio and Oddo as well as Congressman Michael G. Grimm have called on the MTA to revamp that route also.
In 2008, the bus operations of MTA Bus Company and New York City Transit (as well as the now former Long Island Bus division) were merged into a new regional operation, MTA Regional Bus Operations. The MTA Bus brand continues to be used.
MTA Regional Bus routes are spread out across New York City. However, some bus routes may also operate to areas beyond city limits. The Q5 and Q85 routes cross the Nassau County border to go to the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. The Q2 and Q110 routes leave Queens as they run along Hempstead Turnpike and onto the Cross Island Parkway, and Belmont Racetrack in Elmont, where they re-enter the city. The Q46 local and QM6 express buses run along Lakeville Road in Lake Success, Nassau County upon entering Long Island Jewish Medical Center and North Shore Towers. The Q113 and Q114 cross into Nassau County between Southeast Queens and Far Rockaway. During peak hours, select Q111 buses run to Cedarhurst in Nassau County. The Bx16 route runs into Westchester County for two blocks in Mount Vernon. The Bx7 and Bx10 buses both make their last stops at the Bronx-Westchester border. BxM3 express buses leave the city as they operate to Getty Square in Yonkers. The S89 is the only route to have a stop outside state borders, terminating at the 34th Street Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station in Bayonne, New Jersey. Some Staten Island express routes run via New Jersey, but do not stop in the state.
New York City Transit bus routes 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 use the letter X rather than a borough label. Lettered suffixes can be used to designate branches or variants. MTA Bus Company bus routes follow this scheme as well, but combines prefixes for inter-borough express routes (e.g. a route traveling between Manhattan and the Bronx is labeled BxM# and a route traveling between Manhattan and Queens is labeled QM#). This was a labeling system previously used by the former private carriers.
Local and limited-stop service
Local and limited-stop buses provide service within a single borough, or in some cases across two. While local buses make all stops along a route, limited-stop buses only make stops at busy transfer points, points of interest, and heavily used roadways. Limited stop service was first attempted with the M4 bus during rush hours in 1973, then expanded to other routes from there. The usual setup is that limited stop service runs the full route, while local services run only in the limited stop area, and the limited stop buses run local at the tail ends of the route not served by locals, similar to the operation of some subway services and the Staten Island Railway.
The following MTA Regional Bus routes run limited stop service (for non-Staten Island routes, where there is a route numbering system, bold indicates no corresponding local service on the limited-stop route, and italic indicates no corresponding daytime local service on the limited-stop route):
- Bronx: Bx1, Bx15, Bx36
- Brooklyn: B6, B35, B38, B41, B46, B49, B82, B103
- Manhattan: M1, M2, M4, M5, M98, M101
- Queens: Q4, Q5, Q6, Q10, Q17, Q25, Q27, Q36, Q43, Q46, Q50*, Q52**, Q53**, Q58, Q65, Q70, Q83, Q85, Q100, Q113***, Q114***
- Staten Island:**** S81, S84, S86, S89, S90, S91, S92, S93, S94, S96, S98
Most Limited-Stop buses flash "LIMITED" or "LIMITED STOPS" on the destination sign. Occasionally, a paper orange and purple "Limited" sign will also be placed at the bottom of the windshield by the bus operator. Dark navy blue "LOCAL" signs of this kind also exist.
- * Local service along the Q50 corridor between Pelham Bay Park and Co-Op City in the Bronx is provided by the Bx23 bus.
- ** The Q52 and Q53 Limited buses, which run on the same corridor for most of their lengths, do not have corresponding local variants with the same route number. Local service is provided by the Q11 and Q21 buses throughout most of the combined routes.
- *** The Q113 and Q114 Limited buses, which run on the same corridor for most of their lengths, do not have a corresponding local variant with the same route number. Local service is provided by the Q111 bus throughout most of the combined routes, while the Q114 is the local service on the portion of the route in Nassau County.
- **** None of the Staten Island limited-stop routes have corresponding local variants with the same route number. Concurrent local service is provided by routes with different route numbers.
Select Bus Service
Select Bus Service or +SBS, the brand name for MTA bus rapid transit service, is a variant of Limited-Stop bus service that requires fare payment to be made before boarding the bus, at fare payment machines in shelters at designated "stations" (such a shelter is shown to the right). Receipts given for payment of fare are "proof-of-payment" that must be shown to the MTA's fare inspectors upon request. In the event of the fare machine failing to issue a receipt, the bus operator must be notified of the problem. The implementation of this new service is paired with new lane markings and traffic signs that reserve a lane for buses only between 7AM and 7PM.
SBS service began on the Bx12 207th Street Crosstown/Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway Line in the Bronx on June 28, 2008. The M15 First and Second Avenue Line saw SBS implementation in Manhattan on October 10, 2010. The M34 / M34A routes began service on November 13, 2011, after replacing the identical local service along 34th Street. The S79 began SBS on September 2, 2012, completely replacing the local service of the same designation yet with payment on board. The Bx41 Webster Avenue Line has replaced limited stop service with SBS on June 30, 2013. SBS service on the B44 Nostrand Avenue Line in Brooklyn was implemented on November 17, 2013, which replaced limited stop service with SBS. SBS on the M60 was implemented on May 25, 2014, and on the M86 on July 13, 2015, both of which replaced identical local services on 125th and 86th Streets, respectively. The Q44 was the first Q-prefixed NYCT Queens bus line to have +selectbusservice, which replaced both the late night local and daytime limited-stop services on November 29th, 2015. Local service in Queens is being provided by the Q20A (at all times), and Q20B (weekdays only).
Buses used in this service are identifiable with "stations" equipped with ticket machines, and also have a "+selectbusservice" wrap identifying them as such buses. Locations of stops (and in some cases, the local bus stops) were shifted or eliminated where possible to prevent mixing of local bus customers. SBS is offered in conjunction with the New York City and New York State Department of Transportation.
Express bus service is generally geared towards peak hour commuters from the outer boroughs and neighboring suburbs that lacks rail or subway services to and from Midtown Manhattan or Lower Manhattan. Some routes also provide significant off-peak service from early morning to late evening, every day (notably the X10, X17, X27, BxM1/2, BxM3, BxM4, BxM6, BxM7, BxM8, BxM9, BxM10, BxM11, QM2, QM4 and QM5/6; the X1 runs 24 hours a day). 45-foot MCI and Prevost over-the-road coaches are used for express service.
Service originally began in 1968, on route R8X (now X8) traveling from the South Shore of Staten Island, up Hylan Blvd and Father Capodanno Blvd., into Downtown Brooklyn. In the 1980s, the R8X terminal was renumbered and rerouted away from Brooklyn to its current terminal in Lower Manhattan.
In addition to a 100% accessible bus fleet, New York City Transit also provides paratransit services under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 under the Access-A-Ride brand, for customers who cannot use regular bus or subway service servicing all five boroughs of New York City at all times. This system was acquired from the NYC Department of Transportation in 1993.
Within a service area, bus stops are normally located every two to three city blocks apart; specific guidelines dictate that stops should be placed every 750 feet (230 m). Buses marked Limited-Stop, Select Bus Service, and Express have fewer stops. Stops are located curbside, usually at street intersections, identified by blue signage and shelters. Buses stop either on concrete pads, or designated bus lanes (maroon-red if painted). Some bus stops, particularly along Select Bus Service routes, are designed as bus bulbs.
All bus stops are in effect at all times unless otherwise indicated by signage.
Bus stops in New York City are identified by two types of signs:
- An older-style, simple rectangular metal sign, similar to other street signs in the city.
- A newer, color-coded sign showing both route and destination.
In addition, Queens buses that run along the border with Nassau County (Q36, Q46, QM6) or within Nassau County (Q111, Q113, Q114) will sometimes share former Long Island Bus-style signage with Nassau Inter-County Express bus service, though many stops on the Q111, Q113, and Q114 routes in Nassau County are either unsigned, or simply signed as "No Stopping Bus Stop". These signs are also made of metal.
The newer signs, used on all New York City Bus-branded routes, were in place by the mid-2000s, while old-style bus stop signs still exist on many MTA Bus-branded routes, showing only the route and not the destination. All bus stop signs within the city borders are maintained by New York City Department of Transportation. The newer signs are made of recyclable ABS plastic that last up to ten years and are easier to maintain then the old metal signs, which last about three years on average. The green plastic pole is 12 feet (3.7 m) high, versus the old 6-to-9-foot-high (1.8 to 2.7 m) metal signs. Both old and new-style stops carry a Guide-A-Ride box that is attached to the center of the pole, providing route maps, schedules and other information. Guide-A-Ride boxes were installed on all NYCT routes by the 1980s. Implementation on MTA Bus Company routes began in the 2000s for express buses, and in 2012 for local bus routes. All bus stops have schedules as of 2014[update].
The first metal signs in the city to feature a pictograph of a bus were installed by the Transit Authority in the 1960s. Metal signs in their current design were first used in 1976, as part of a pilot program on Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Midtown Manhattan funded by the Urban Mass Transit Administration, and fully implemented in the 1980s.
In its current iteration, the upper portion of the sign is red, reading "NO STANDING" with an arrow identifying the no standing zone. Below on a blue background is a white circle, with a blue pictograph of a bus and wheelchair from the International Symbol of Access. Routes are identified with color-coded labels (see below), but without destinations. Some signs for express-bus service are colored lime-green and read "EXPRESS" at the top.
The modern color coded bus stop signs were first installed in November 1996 in Jamaica, Queens. They were designed by W.S. Sign Design Corporation. The signs were created in response to complaints from bus riders that the previous metal signs lacked basic information about bus routes and schedules, and that some signs were often missing entirely. They were based off signs used in London and Paris, which had existed since at least the 1950s.
The new bus stop sign features a large circle on top and rectangular color-coded bus route information on the bottom. The bus stop circle also has a pictograph of a bus and ADA wheelchair, in white on a blue background. Hanging off the pole below are rectangular bus route signs, color-coded by type of service. Each has a route number and final destination, usually the neighborhood in which it terminates, though a street or landmark is listed for some routes. Westbound Bx12 local signs, for example, read "Sedgwick Avenue" instead of the neighborhood University Heights. At the bottom of this area is a white rectangle with black text announcing the name of the stop, usually the names of the streets at the intersection. On bus stops that operate at all times of day, an arrow and red text on the bottom of the upper circle indicates the no-standing zone for cars. On stops that only operate part-time, the top route number box will read "NO STANDING", with the top destination box listing the days and/or times of day this is in effect. Some bus routes that run underneath elevated subway lines (such as the Bx9 underneath the Broadway elevated in the Bronx) use metal bus stop signs with a printed image depicting a modern bus sign, affixed to the pillars of the El.
Electronic countdown clocks
Some bus stops, produced by Data Display and STV Incorporated, feature electronic countdown clocks. In addition to the route and destination, an LED readout in between displays how many stops away the next bus is using the MTA's "Bus Time" system. The first two signs of this kind, in Stapleton and New Dorp on Staten Island, were installed in 2013. The Stapleton stop is solar-powered. A third stop was installed near City Hall in Manhattan in 2015. An additional 18 stops in Staten Island and Brooklyn were approved for installation in late 2014, and 10 for Queens in 2015, as part of the NYCDOT's plan to install over 100 across the city.
Several stops along Select Bus Service routes, such as the B44, M60, and M86, employ different countdown clocks that are separate from bus stop signage. These clocks are part of wayfinding information kiosks installed in conjunction with the city's WalkNYC project beginning in 2013. The current countdown clocks are successors to a pilot program on the M15 in 2007, and another on the M34 and M16 buses between 2009 and 2012.
|Sign color||Type of service|
The current bus shelters found at many bus stops were designed by Spain-based advertising company Cemusa, as part of a city-wide "street furniture" project that also included newsstands, bike shelters, and public toilets. Cemusa was awarded a 20-year contract for 3,300 bus shelters in May 2006, after the project had been receiving design bids going back to the 1990s. As opposed to the city paying Cemusa to install the shelters, the company paid for exclusive rights to advertise on the shelters; in return, the company would share a portion of the ad revenue generated. They replaced the simple old-style shelters, consisting of black-painted metal with glass. The first 24 shelters were installed by December 2006 in Queens.
Designed by British architect Nicholas Grimshaw and his firm Grimshaw Architects, the shelters are constructed of stainless steel, with glass on three sides including the roof and rear. The fourth side consists of an advertising panel. On the non-advertising panel is an insert listing the streets of the intersection where the stop is located on the outer side, and route maps and information also featured on the Guide-A-Ride on its inner face. The shelters come in five sizes (regular, narrow, short, little, and double). All the modern shelters feature benches (many of the old ones did not), and were praised for environmentally friendly construction during their introduction. Several of these shelters, primarily in Manhattan, have since been equipped with LED displays, LCD video advertisement panels, and ad panels with NFC communication technology.
Between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., "Request-a-Stop" service is available as dictated by NYCDOT traffic regulations. If requested by a passenger, the bus operator 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" (i.e. it will interfere with traffic flow), the bus operator will discharge passengers at the nearest safe location. Request-A-Stop is not available on Select Bus Service, Express routes, Limited-Stop routes, or overnight bus shuttles.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bus stops in New York City.|
The fleet consists of over 5,700 buses of various types and models for fixed-route service, and over 2,000 vans and cabs for ADA paratransit service, providing service in New York City, southwestern Nassau County, and the city of Yonkers. All vehicles (except for paratransit cabs) are fully accessible to persons with disabilities. Fixed-route buses are dispatched from 28 garages (20 New York City Bus and 8 MTA Bus) and one annex in New York City.
Several fleet improvements have been introduced over the system's history. The first large order of air conditioned buses began service in 1966. "Kneeling buses" were introduced in 1976, and wheelchair lifts began appearing in 1980. Articulated buses were introduced in 1996, and have since become prominent in the Bronx and Manhattan. Low-floor buses, designed to speed boarding and alighting and improve riding conditions for elderly and disabled passengers, were first tested in 1997 and have made up most of the new non-express buses ordered since the early 2000s.
Buses operating on clean or alternative fuels also make up a significant portion of the fleet, particularly since the establishment of the MTA's "Clean Fuel Bus" program in June 2000. Buses running compressed natural gas (CNG) were first tested in the early 1990s, and mass-ordered beginning in 1999. Hybrid-electric buses, operating with a combination of diesel and electric power, were introduced in September 1998, and mass-ordered beginning in 2004. Within the current fleet are over 1,600 diesel-electric buses and over 700 buses powered by compressed natural gas, the largest fleet of either kind in the United States.
By fleet size, the MTA Regional Bus (New York City Bus and MTA Bus) fleet is the fourth largest in the United States and Canada (and the largest public transit fleet), behind three school bus operators: First Student, Durham School Services, and Student Transportation, Incorporated.
Dollar bills and half-dollar coins are not accepted on fixed-route buses or Select Bus Service payment stations, nor are they accepted on buses of the Bee-Line Bus System (Bee-Line) in Westchester County or the Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) in Nassau County. All fares are in US dollars, and the following fare policy applies to all New York City Transit, MTA Bus, NICE, and Bee-Line (except for the BxM4C) buses.
|Local, Limited-Stop, and Select Bus Service
(transfer available upon request)
|Express Bus Service
(New York City Bus and MTA Bus)
(New York City paratransit)
|Full fare||Reduced fare||Full fare||Reduced-fare
|Student Free MetroCard
(City of New York only)
|Student Half Fare MetroCard
(City of New York only)
($3.00 for a Single-Ride ticket)
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- Metropolitan Transportation Authority