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Select Bus Service

FAQs/General Questions

What is Select Bus Service?

Select Bus Service is New York City Transit's new, innovative bus service designed to reduce travel time and increase the level of comfort for customers. Select Bus Service was inaugurated on the Bx12 on Fordham Road in the Bronx in June 2008 and introduced changes to the way buses operate by incorporating the following elements:

  • High visibility stations
  • Bus lanes where the road is dedicated to the exclusive use of buses
  • A service plan that provides an easily understandable route map and schedule
  • High capacity, low floor vehicles
  • A faster fare collection system where customers pay before boarding
  • Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) which gives buses priority at traffic lights
  • System identity and branding which bring a unique and distinguished visibility to the BRT service.

Why does New York City need Select Bus Service?

Since the introduction of the MetroCard, as well as with an increase in the city's population, NYC Transit has experienced a significant growth in bus ridership. In recent years, however, ridership has leveled off. However, bus speed and reliability has suffered as a result of high ridership and congested road conditions.

SBS is one of the options that New York City transportation officials (NYCT and NYCDOT) are examining to improve transit's performance for existing and new customers as well as to foster economic development.

Why buses? The subway is faster and more reliable; why not build a subway instead?

Subways are generally faster and more reliable than bus systems which must compete with general traffic and pedestrians for the same street space. Subway lines, however, take many years to construct. Select Bus Service uses a variety of techniques and technologies that will improve the quality and performance of transit much more quickly at a much lower cost.

Where and when will the SBS routes be implemented?

  • Bx12 Fordham Road-Pelham Parkway - launched June 2008
  • M34 34th Street Phase I Enhanced Bus Priority Corridor - launched September 2008/Phase II off-board fare collection launched November 2011
  • M15 First Avenue-Second Avenue SBS - launched October 2010
  • S79 Hylan Boulevard SBS - launched on Sunday, September 2, 2012
  • Bx41 Webster Avenue SBS - To be launched June 30, 2013
  • Bx44 Nostrand Avenue-Rogers Avenue SBS - 2013

How will Select Bus Service be faster than the regular bus?

SBS will be faster due to several improvements. The off-board fare collection system will speed boarding at every stop (off-board fare collection is not a feature of the S79). In addition, there will be a traffic signal priority system that permits Select Bus Service buses to get an extended green light at certain intersections. There will be somewhat fewer stops than current limited stop service. Bus only lanes will also further reduce delays. All of these features will make for a faster trip.

How will I be able to identify Select Bus Service stations and vehicles?

A distinctive, consistent design program has been developed that unifies the various Select Bus Service elements, including bus lanes, stations, buses, and traveler information. The blue-aqua motif on buses clearly identifies the service.

It looks like you are doing this to serve people in other neighborhoods, what is in it for us?

SBS service will benefit all the travelers in each corridor. Current bus riders who travel longer distances will benefit directly from the faster Select Bus Service option. Bus riders who travel a short distance between local stops will benefit from the provision of bus lanes. Automobile drivers should benefit from the traffic signal optimization measures. Finally, by increasing the number of people who travel by transit, everyone benefits by reduced traffic, pollution and demand for parking.

What about the seniors who have to go to the senior center / church / hospital?

We expect Select Bus Service to be of benefit to seniors, by providing improved public transit service. All buses will be fully accessible, and NYC Transit will deploy low-floor buses on all Select Bus Service routes.

Why can't you have the Select Bus Service and the local bus stop at the same place?

The SBS corridors have a very high volume of bus service. Under current conditions, we sometimes find that two or more buses arrive at busy stops at the same time. This causes buses to get in each other's way, and sometimes buses cannot pull to the curb, which forces customers to board in the street. By having separate stops for Select Bus Service and local services, neither service will interfere with the other. Although some customers will be indifferent as to which service they ride, we have found that at the Select Bus Service stops — which are at principal intersections—most customers will choose to ride the SBS service.

Fare Collection

What will be the fare for Select Bus Service? How will fares be collected?

The fare will be same as for subway and local bus service. Customers pay their fare prior to boarding at machines at Select Bus Service stops. One can pay by MetroCard or coin. Customers will be issued a proof-of-payment receipt, or ticket, which they must hold during their trip to show to an inspector who may be riding the bus or at a bus stop. All transfers will work the same way they do today. Only customers who pay with coins and need a bus transfer will need to enter through the front door to ask the bus operator for a transfer. Otherwise, customers may board the bus through any door. There is no need to show anything to the bus driver. Just keep the receipt that was issued by the machine. On the S79 SBS route on Hylan Boulevard, however, customers continue to pay their fares on the bus in the conventional manner.

Will Select Bus Service honor the free transfers that I get from my current bus?

Yes. The transfer policy will remain the same for Select Bus Service as the one currently in place for buses and the subway. You will need to insert your MetroCard or bus transfer at the MetroCard Fare Collector machine and obtain a proof-of-payment receipt.

What if I am on the Select Bus Service but I don’t have my receipt?

Anyone who does not have a valid receipt may be issued a fare evasion summons by the fare inspector.

What if I pay my Select Bus Service Fare at a MetroCard Fare Machine and board the Select Bus Service bus? Now I want to transfer to another bus. How do I do this?

It will be the same procedure as now. Your connecting transfer data is encoded on your MetroCard. Just dip your MetroCard in the farebox on the connecting bus and the transfer will be accepted.

What if I pay my Select Bus Service Fare at the Coin Fare Collection machine and then boards the Select Bus Service bus. If I want to transfer to a connecting local bus, how can I do that?

This customer must enter the front door and show their receipt to the Bus Operator and request a transfer. The Bus Operator will issue a transfer ticket from the farebox.

Can I use my SBS receipt on other bus routes? Can I use my SBS receipt to transfer to another SBS route?

Your SBS receipt is valid only on the SBS route and bus stop where you purchased it. You cannot use your SBS receipt to board any other local, limited or SBS bus. For example, if you purchased a receipt for the Bx41 route, it cannot be used to transfer to the Bx12 SBS. You must obtain a new receipt from the Bx12 SBS bus stop where you plan to board. Insert the MetroCard you used to pay to board the Bx41 SBS as your free transfer is encoded on it; a receipt will be issued automatically. Or, if you paid with coins on the Bx41 SBS, you must have a transfer that was issued to you, upon request, by the Bx41 SBS operator. Insert that transfer into the Bx12 SBS MetroCard Fare Collector and a receipt will be issued automatically.

Can I pay with a Uni-Ticket or Return-Trip Ticket?

Yes. Just board the bus. You don't need to get a receipt from the fare collector machines. Your ticket serves as a receipt. Just show your ticket to a fare inspector upon request.

What if I can't obtain a receipt or have some other problem?

Write down the fare machine number; it is located on the front of each machine. If a machine is not working, please board the bus and tell the bus operator. If the machine does not issue a receipt or return your MetroCard or coins, use MetroCard eFIX to file a claim online at mta.info or call 511.

Bus Lanes

Why Have Bus Lanes?

Millions of New Yorkers ride the bus every day. Bus lanes keep buses from getting stuck in traffic, making travel for bus riders fast and reliable.

What Is a Bus Lane?

It is a travel lane that is restricted to buses only during certain hours of the day. All bus lanes have signs posted along the route with specific regulations; newer lanes may be painted terra cotta. There are over 70 lane-miles of bus lanes in New York City.

Emergency vehicles are the only other vehicles allowed to drive in a bus lane. All other vehicles may enter a bus lane only to make a right turn at the next corner, or to quickly drop off or pick up passengers.

Types of bus lanes:

A curbside bus lane is a travel lane for buses at the curb. Parking and standing at the curb are not permitted during the hours the bus lane is in effect. Most bus lanes in New York City are curbside lanes.

An offset bus lane is a travel lane for buses one lane away from the curb. This makes parking or standing at the curb still possible. Double parking, or stopping of any kind, is not permitted in an offset bus lane. 

Some of the bus lanes in New York City, such as on Fordham Road in the Bronx or First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, are used by Select Bus Service (SBS) routes. SBS is the first generation of Bus Rapid Transit in New York City, and includes bus lanes and other features to improve bus service. On SBS routes, bus lanes are camera-enforced.

View bus lanes around New York City.

How Are Bus Lane Rules Enforced? 

If you drive, park, or stand in a bus lane during hours of operation you face fines ranging from $115 to $150. The City enforces bus lanes in two ways.

Bus Lane Cameras:

New York State recently authorized the City of New York and the MTA to place cameras along bus lanes to catch violators. Signs will be posted where bus lane cameras are in use to warn drivers to keep out of bus lanes, except for  permitted right turns and expeditious passenger pick ups or drop offs.

Police Enforcement:

NYPD regularly patrols bus lanes, and issues both moving violations and parking violations to bus lane violators. New York City Transit  supervisors also enforce bus lanes.

What are the advantages of bus lanes?

Bus lanes enable buses to travel more quickly. Without a bus lane, buses must pull into and out of general traffic at each bus stop. This slows down both buses and other traffic. Buses also have to stop or slow down when vehicles stand and double park in bus lanes. Bus lanes help all traffic move faster!

Why should buses be given priority?

A single bus can carry 80 people or more. If all those bus passengers used cars, there would be 50 or more cars on the road, increasing traffic congestion and pollution. Giving buses priority makes them more attractive to current and new customers, easing congestion and improving the environment for all New Yorkers.

How should I make a right turn on the street with a bus lane?

Unless otherwise restricted, vehicles are permitted to enter the bus lane to make the next available right turn. To make a right turn from a bus lane, enter the bus lane safely toward the end of the block you are turning from. New bus lanes are being painted to make this clear and show you where it is best to enter the lane.

With an offset bus lane, there are some locations where there is a curbside right turn lane before an intersection. Drivers should merge through the bus lane and use the curbside lane to make their turn, so that they do not block the bus.

How should I pick up or drop off a passenger at the curb on the street with a bus lane?

If possible, arrange your pick up or drop off where there isn't a bus lane – across the street, or on the cross street, for example. If there is no alternative, you may stop in the bus lane for the time it takes for a passenger standing at the curb to enter or a passenger to exit the vehicle and get onto the sidewalk. You cannot load goods to or from a vehicle in the bus lane.

How should I make or receive a delivery to a business or residence on the street with a bus lane?

You cannot pick-up or deliver goods in a bus lane during the hours it is in effect. Many bus lanes have mid-day hours where parking and deliveries are permitted, and many streets with bus lanes have designated delivery zones on an opposite curb, or on a cross street. You can use these hours and locations for deliveries, or schedule the delivery before or after the bus lanes are in effect.

Can I wait in an offset bus lane (one lane away from the curb) if I'm waiting for a parking space?

You are not permitted to wait in an offset bus lane for someone to leave a parking space – you can get a ticket!

MTA New York City Transit New York City Department of Transportation
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