On certain routes, traveling by bus is a lot quicker than it used to be. If you’ve never tried Select Bus Service in NYC, you might want to skip the cab ride and give it a go. I ride the M86 to cross town to the Upper East Side pretty often, and I’m here to tell you that riding the bus now takes minutes thanks to Select Bus Service.
SBS or as you’ll see on the outside of the buses “+selectbusservice,” is a form of rapid transit that the MTA launched in 2008. The initiative provides dedicated bus lanes, fare collection before boarding the bus, as well as signal priority at lights on high-traffic bus routes. The aim is to offer faster more reliable service to New Yorkers, and this expanding program does just that. Haven’t tried SBS yet? Go ahead, but read this first. Here are the basics and how to use Select Bus Service in NYC.
Select Bus Service NYC bus routes
As of the writing of this blog post (September 2017), there are 15 different Select Bus Service routes on 14 corridors. Every borough in New York City has at least one SBS route.
In The Bronx: Bx12, Bx41, Bx6
In Manhattan: M15, M34/M34A, M60, M86, M23, M79
In Brooklyn: B44, B46
In Queens: Q44, Q70
In Staten Island: S79
Buying a ticket for Select Bus Service in NYC
The fare for SBS is the same as the subway and local and limited bus service, or $2.75 per trip, but you must pay your fare before boarding the bus. If you don’t, at any time an agent could come on the bus (or wait at a bus stop) and check for your receipt, then issue you a $100 ticket (fare evasion summons) for neglecting to pay for your ride. So ALWAYS pay in advance and keep the receipt handy. Here’s how to pay.
At each bus stop, you’ll see a machine. Press START, then insert your Metrocard face up into the slot and you’ll receive a proof-of-payment receipt. If you don’t have a MetroCard (I recommend buying one), you must have exact change to purchase a fare and it must be in coins. The machine will not accept dollar bills, pennies, or half dollars and it will not give change. You can insert up to 25 coins for a single transaction. (If you overpay, no change back, either.) Hence, why I suggest forking over the $1 fee for a Metrocard that you can use again and again because it saves time and you won’t have the hassle of rummaging through your bag or pockets for change.
If you want to purchase multiple SBS tickets, you can insert your MetroCard up to four times for four tickets. Of course, you must have a value-based Metrocard and not a monthly. 🙂
Boarding a Select Service bus
You’ll find that taking this bus is super speedy because everyone has paid in advance of boarding, but also because you can enter and exit all doors of the bus. Yes, you can get on in the rear, the middle, or the front of the bus and exit the same door or a different door. Just get on and off as quickly (and safely) as possible so the bus can stay on schedule.
Transferring to another bus
If you paid with a Metrocard and want to transfer to a non-SBS bus, take your Metrocard and insert it into the fare box when you board the second bus. It should automatically provide the transfer and you should not be charged twice.
If you paid with coins and want to transfer to any other bus, you’ll need to enter the front door of the SBS bus (not the middle or rear door) and ask the driver for a transfer. Insert that transfer when you board the second bus.
If you paid with a Metrocard and want to transfer to another SBS bus, you’ll need to use your MetroCard to get another receipt out of a machine before you board that second bus. (Press START, insert card, get a receipt.)
Transferring to a subway
Use your MetroCard or transfer and swipe at the turnstile to enter the platform. Please note: Transfers are good for two hours (on subways and buses).
The future of Select Bus Service in NYC
High ridership on New York City buses almost guarantees that Select Bus Service in NYC will continue to expand. More SBS routes are coming soon, which means more New Yorkers will travel to their destinations in less time. And that alone means happier New Yorkers. 😉
Have you tried Select Bus Service in NYC? I’d love to hear about your experience!