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||Carmen Bianco (NYCT)
Darryl Irick (MTA Bus)
- 1 History
- 2 Brands and service area
- 3 Operations
- 4 Bus stop signage
- 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. 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 Tours, 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. 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 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):
- 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, Q44, 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 on the destination sign, but a few also have an orange and purple "Limited" sign in the windshield.
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 fare enforcement 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/Second Avenues 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.
Buses used in this service are identifiable with "stations" similar to those pictured to the right 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 a route traveling from the South Shore of Staten Island, up Hylan Blvd, and into 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.
Bus stop signage
The color coded bus stop signs were first installed in November 1996 in Jamaica, Queens. It was 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 were often missing entirely). The color-coded signs on New York City Bus-branded routes, showing both route and destination, were in place by the mid-2000s, while old-style bus stop signs still exist on the MTA Bus-branded routes, showing only the route and not the destination. All bus stops have schedules as of 2014[update].
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 has a pictogram of a bus and wheelchair from the International Symbol of Access in blue and white. An arrow and red text on the bottom of the circle indicates the no-standing zone for cars. Hanging off the pole below are rectangular bus route signs, color-coded by type of service. Each has a route number and final destination. 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.
The signs are made of recyclable plastic that last up to ten years and more maintainable then the old metal signs, which lasted about three years. The green plastic pole is 12 feet high versus the old six-to-nine-feet-high metal signs. It also carries Guide-A-Ride that is attach to the green pole, providing a route map, schedule and other information. All bus stop signs are maintained by New York City Department of Transportation.
Within the service area, bus stops signs are normally located every two to three city blocks apart. Buses marked Limited-Stop, Select Bus Service, and Express routes have fewer stops.
All bus stops are in effect at all times unless otherwise indicated by signage.
|Sign color||Type of service|
Between 10:00 PM (22:00) and 5:00 AM (05:00), "Request-a-Stop" service is available. 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", the bus operator will discharge passengers at the nearest safe location. Request-A-Stop is not available on Select Bus Service, Limited-Stop routes, or overnight bus shuttles.
The fleet consists of over 5,900 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.
Within the current fleet are over 1,600 diesel-electric buses and over 900 buses powered by compressed natural gas. Fixed-route buses are dispatched from 28 garages (20 New York City Bus and 8 MTA Bus) and one annex in New York City.
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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- New York Times, City's Last Trolley at End of Line, April 7, 1957, page 1
- MTA — City Law Breakfast with Elliot G. Sander
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- MTA Newsroom
- http://web.archive.org/web/20110707183208/http://www.atlanticexpress.com/SouthShore.htm EMERGENCY INTERIM COMMUTER SERVICE For the South Shore Community of Staten Island
- "Staten Island pols call on MTA to take over 2 privately operated bus routes". Staten Island Advance. September 29, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
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- http://mta.info/nyct/bus/schedule/bronx/bx036cur.pdf Bx36 Local and LTD
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- MTA Paratransit services description
-  "Color-Coded Bus Stop Signs Replacing Old, Cryptic Ones" NY Times November 20, 1996
-  W.S. Sign Design Corporation webpage
-  NYU Rudin Center for Transportation "The Mobility Factbook - Public Bus"
-  "How to Ride the Bus" mta.info
- NYCT data from the National Transit Database
- MTA Bus Company data from the National Transit Database
- "Reduced-Fare". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2015-04-27.
Media related to MTA Regional Bus Operations at Wikimedia Commons