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Riding the bus is one of the most affordable and convenient ways to get around New York City.

With over 5,700 buses operating on 330 local and express bus routes across the five boroughs, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses connect millions of New Yorkers and visitors to their destinations every day.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: You can pay for the bus in NYC with a MetroCard or coins at a farebox when boarding. MetroCards can be purchased at subway stations and various retailers.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about paying bus fares in New York City, including the payment methods, where to buy MetroCards, reduced fares, transfers, and tips for saving money.

Payment Methods for MTA Buses

When it comes to paying for the bus in NYC, there are several convenient payment methods available.

Whether you’re a local resident or a tourist exploring the city, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these options to ensure a smooth and hassle-free commute.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) offers a range of payment methods to cater to different preferences and needs.


MetroCards are the most popular payment method for MTA buses in NYC. These plastic cards can be purchased at subway stations, local convenience stores, or online through the MTA website.

MetroCards can be loaded with a specific amount of money or unlimited ride passes for a certain duration of time.

They can be used not only for buses but also for the subway system, making them a versatile option for commuters.

It’s important to note that MetroCards are gradually being phased out and replaced with a new contactless payment system called OMNY.


If you prefer to pay with cash, MTA buses also accept coins. The fare for a single bus ride is currently $2.75, and exact change is required.

It’s always a good idea to carry some coins with you, especially if you’re not planning to use a MetroCard or a contactless payment method.

However, be aware that the bus drivers do not carry change, so make sure to have the correct amount ready when boarding the bus.

OMNY Contactless Fare Payment

OMNY is the new contactless fare payment system introduced by the MTA.

This system allows commuters to pay for their bus rides using contactless-enabled credit or debit cards, as well as digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

To pay using OMNY, simply tap your contactless card or device on the OMNY reader located at the front of the bus. OMNY offers a quick and convenient way to pay, eliminating the need for physical MetroCards or coins.

It’s important to note that while MetroCards are still widely accepted, the MTA is actively encouraging commuters to transition to the OMNY system.

OMNY is currently available on all MTA buses, and the plan is to expand it to the entire subway system by 2023.

This contactless payment method provides a more modern and efficient way to pay for your bus rides in NYC.

Where to Buy MetroCards

When traveling in New York City and planning to use the bus, it’s important to know where to buy MetroCards, the payment system used for public transportation. Here are a few options:

MTA Vending Machines

One of the most convenient ways to purchase a MetroCard is through MTA vending machines. These machines can be found at subway stations and select bus stops throughout the city.

They accept both cash and credit/debit cards, making it easy to reload your card or purchase a new one on the go.

Simply follow the instructions on the screen, select the desired amount of money to load onto your card, and make your payment. The machine will dispense your MetroCard, and you’ll be ready to ride the bus!

MTA Booths

Another option for purchasing MetroCards is through MTA booths, which are staffed by MTA employees. These booths are typically located at major subway stations and transportation hubs.

While they may not be as readily available as vending machines, they offer the advantage of having a knowledgeable staff member on hand to answer any questions you may have about fares or routes.

Simply approach the booth, let the attendant know how much money you’d like to load onto your card, and make your payment. The attendant will provide you with a MetroCard, and you’ll be all set to hop on the bus.


In addition to MTA vending machines and booths, MetroCards can also be purchased at various retailers throughout the city.

These include convenience stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies. While the selection of retailers may vary, you can easily find one near your location.

Once you locate a retailer, simply visit the store, approach the cashier, and request a MetroCard. They will provide you with the card and can also assist in adding funds if needed.

This option is particularly convenient if you’re already planning to stop by a nearby store.

Remember, having a MetroCard is essential for paying for the bus in NYC. By knowing where to buy them, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience.

So, whether you choose to use MTA vending machines, MTA booths, or retailers, be sure to get your MetroCard before hopping on the bus!

Reduced Fares

When it comes to paying for the bus in NYC, there are various options available for individuals who qualify for reduced fares.

These reduced fares are designed to make public transportation more affordable and accessible for specific groups of people.

Senior Citizens

Senior citizens aged 65 and above are eligible for reduced fares on NYC buses. They can apply for a Senior MetroCard, which offers discounted rates for both single rides and monthly passes.

With the Senior MetroCard, seniors can save money while enjoying the convenience of using public transportation to get around the city.

People with Disabilities

People with disabilities are also eligible for reduced fares on NYC buses. They can apply for a Reduced-Fare MetroCard, which provides discounted rates for both single rides and monthly passes.

To qualify for a Reduced-Fare MetroCard, individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria and provide documentation of their disability.


Students in NYC can also benefit from reduced fares on buses. The NYC Department of Education provides eligible students with a Student MetroCard, which offers discounted rates for both single rides and monthly passes.

To qualify for a Student MetroCard, students must be enrolled in a participating school and meet certain eligibility criteria.

The application process is usually handled by the school, and students can obtain their Student MetroCards directly from their school’s transportation office.

It’s important to note that the specific eligibility requirements and application processes may vary for each group of people.

Therefore, it’s advisable to visit the official websites or contact the relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information on how to apply for reduced fares.


Transfers are an essential part of navigating the bus system in New York City. They allow riders to switch between different bus routes or between buses and the subway without having to pay an additional fare.

Understanding how transfers work can help you save money and make your commute more efficient.

Free MetroCard Transfers

If you are using a MetroCard to pay for your bus fare, you are eligible for free transfers within a specific time window.

When you pay your fare with a pay-per-ride MetroCard, you will receive a transfer that allows you to board another bus or enter the subway system for free within two hours of your initial boarding.

This is a great option if you need to transfer between buses or if you need to switch from the bus to the subway.

It’s important to note that the free transfer only works in one direction. For example, if you board a bus using a pay-per-ride MetroCard, you can transfer to the subway system for free.

However, if you board the subway first, you will need to pay an additional fare when you transfer to a bus.

Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard Transfers

If you are using a pay-per-ride MetroCard and need to transfer to another bus, you can do so by inserting your MetroCard into the farebox of the second bus.

The farebox will deduct the appropriate amount from your card, taking into account the transfer discount.

This option allows you to transfer between buses without needing to purchase a new fare.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you use your MetroCard to pay for your first ride and then use it again for a transfer, you must wait at least 18 minutes between swipes to avoid being charged a new fare.

This is to prevent users from abusing the system by swiping their card multiple times within a short period of time.

OMNY Contactless Transfers

OMNY is a new contactless payment system that is being rolled out across the New York City transit system. With OMNY, you can use a contactless credit card, debit card, or digital wallet to pay for your bus fare.

Just tap your card or device on the OMNY reader and you’re good to go.

When it comes to transfers with OMNY, the system is designed to automatically provide you with the best fare option.

If you tap your card or device on a bus and then transfer to the subway within a certain time frame, you will receive the appropriate transfer discount.

The system is smart enough to recognize when you are eligible for a transfer and will deduct the correct amount from your account.

Tips for Saving Money on Buses

When it comes to navigating the bustling streets of New York City, taking the bus is a popular and convenient option.

However, fares can quickly add up, especially for frequent travelers. To help you save some money while getting around the city, here are some handy tips:

Get an Unlimited MetroCard

One of the best ways to save money on bus fares in NYC is to purchase an Unlimited MetroCard. With this card, you can enjoy unlimited rides on both buses and subways for a fixed period of time.

Whether you’re a daily commuter or a visitor exploring the city for a few days, an Unlimited MetroCard can be a cost-effective option.

Take Advantage of Transfers

Another way to save money on bus fares is by taking advantage of transfers. When you pay your fare with a MetroCard, you are eligible for a free transfer between buses within a certain time frame.

This means that you can hop on multiple buses and only pay for a single fare.

It’s important to note that transfers are not available when paying with cash, so having a MetroCard is essential for this money-saving trick.

Avoid Peak Hours When Possible

If you have some flexibility in your schedule, try to avoid traveling during peak hours. Bus fares during these times can be slightly higher, and the buses tend to be more crowded.

By planning your trips outside of rush hour, you can not only save money but also enjoy a more comfortable and efficient journey.

Plus, you might even get a seat!

Consider Express Buses for Longer Trips

For longer trips within the city or to the outskirts, consider taking an express bus. While these buses may have a higher fare compared to regular buses, they offer a faster and more direct route to your destination.

This can save you time and make your commute more efficient.

If you frequently travel long distances by bus, investing in an unlimited express bus pass might be a worthwhile option to consider.

By following these money-saving tips, you can make your bus rides in NYC more affordable and convenient.

Remember, every dollar saved can add up over time, allowing you to allocate your hard-earned money to other exciting experiences in the city that never sleeps!


Riding the bus is one of the most economical ways to navigate New York City, thanks to the various payment options and fare deals offered by the MTA.

By getting a MetroCard, taking advantage of transfers, and timing your trips right, you can save money while getting around via bus.

We hope this guide gave you all the key details on how to pay for and ride MTA buses affordably in NYC. With the information above, you’ll be ready to plan your transit trips and have your payment ready when boarding the bus.

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