Elected officials gather at Williamsburg Bridge Plaza ahead of MTA's new fare-free pilot program
Elected officials gathered at the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza Wednesday morning to voice their support for a new MTA fare-free pilot program.
The program will offer one free bus route in each of the five boroughs. Officials plan to launch the program Sunday and is expected to last between 6 and 12 months.
The routes include the Bx18 A/B in the Bronx, the B60 in Brooklyn, the M116 in Manhattan, the Q4 LCL/LTD in Queens, and the S46/96 in Staten Island.
The program will serve close to 44,000 daily weekday riders. They say participating buses will be clearly marked with 'Fare Free' signage, although it will not include transfers to other buses or subways. The state says the routes were chosen based on things like ridership, equity and fare evasion rates.
Among those in attendance included New York state Sens. Michael Gianaris and Julia Salazar as well as State Assemblymembers Zohran Mamdani, Brian Cunningham, and Amanda Septimo.
"It's really all the more important that we make sure that everyone, every New Yorker, of every ability, of every financial situation, is able to get around our city," said state Sen. Salazar.
Local leaders say the program is also about improving equity and quality of life.
"Instituting free buses is not just about the transit itself. It's about improving quality of life, it's about improving access for people, it's about growing our economy," said Assemblymember Septimo.
The program is being funded by the state's budget.