The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, known more familiarly as MTA New York City, is the single largest public transportation operator in the United States. The MTA operates over 5700 buses, over 6000 subway cars, and two different commuter rail systems: Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Railroad. Most of the MTA’s operation is centered around New York City, NY.
MTA New York City operates two types of bus service: Local Buses (identified by a letter and number). And express buses (identified by two or more letters and a number). Local buses utilize a simple fare system and offer free transfer between lines as well as subways. Express buses, on the other hand, utilize a more premium fare and free transfers are NOT available to express buses.
Of these buses, MTA New York City also operates two sub-divisions within their bus network: MTA Bus and MTA New York City Transit. MTA Bus is composed of former private operations such as Jamaica bus lines, Queens Surface, and many others that the MTA has taken over. MTA New York City Transit, however, is all from the original New York City Transit Authority, which is MTA’s direct predecessor.
Bus Routes and Transfers
As previously mentioned, all MTA bus routes have letter and number combinations. The letter would indicate which borough the route operates through, whereas the number is the bus route itself. Express buses would have two or more letters indicating more than one borough.
- B – Brooklyn. These buses operate within the borough of Brooklyn, connecting with Downtown Brooklyn, JFK Airport, Coney Island, and Williamsburg.
- Bx – Bronx. These buses operate within the borough of Bronx. Some bronx routes connect with Westchester Bee-Line buses through the borough. Some Bronx Buses also operate into Harlem, Manhattan.
- M – Manhattan. These buses operate primarily within Manhattan, with some crossing over to Queens. Manhattan buses can connect with NJ Transit in Middtown Manhattan.
- Q – Queens. Now this is where it gets interesting as for the most part, queens bus routes stay within Queens but unlike every other letter, there is at least one Q route in every Borough (except Staten Island). Queens buses connect with Nassau Inter-county Expresss or NICE within Jamaica, Queens.
- S (or SI for Express Buses) – Staten Island. All of these routes are from Richmond County service, operating to St George’s Ferry Terminal, Eltingville Transit Center, or Staten Island Mall. Some Staten Island Bus routes operate into Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
- X – Express. This is also a non-demoninator express bus designator. Unlike with every other designation, X buses only utilize one letter in the route number on express bus lines.
On Express buses, the route letters would indicate which boroughs they serve. For example, SIM routes serve Staten Island and Manhattan. Most express buses serve Manhattan, as the “M” in their names suggests.
Bus Fleet Roster
MTA New York City’s bus fleet is in a transitional phase, between the classic “Orion” buses from the early 2000s, to more modern New Flyer Xcelsior and NovaBus LFS buses. The MTA has also notably changed their livery in 2015 to what is known now as the “Cuomo livery.”