As financial concerns loom over the future of the MTA, transit leadership look to cost-saving measures and a return to at least one source of revenue: bus fares.
Starting Monday, fare collection and front-door boarding resume on all buses.
The transit agency says new protective barriers will be installed to maintain safety between passengers and the bus operators. The transition will allow for "40% more space" on the buses, meant to provide further space for customers to ride safely and socially distant.
The MTA says a team of officers will be deployed throughout the transit agency's bus system to remind customers to wear appropriate face coverings and enforce fare collection.
To remind customers of the new adjustments, staff will display updated signs on buses and along route stops.
"We are resuming fare collection at a time when we are facing the worst financial crisis in MTA history and we need the federal government to step up and deliver $12 billion in urgently needed funding now," Interim President of New York City Transit Sarah Feinberg said in a statement.
Without $12 billion in federal aid through next year, the agency has said it may be forced to reduce service on subways and buses by up to 40 percent. That would translate to up to an 8-minute longer wait for the next train and up to a 15-minute longer wait for the next bus.
In addition to the return of fare collection, the MTA is citing high costs as it announces the end of the for-hire vehicle program offered to essential workers in need of overnight transportation to or from their place of employment.
The program was started back at the height of the pandemic's grip on New York after the MTA suspended overnight subway service between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to ensure daily cleaning and sanitation to each train car.
According to a press release from the MTA, the program has cost more than $6 million, which was spent on roughly 1,500 nightly customers.
"To assist those customers impacted by the cessation of the program, the MTA has added a trio of bus routes that largely mirror some of the more frequented trips that overnight [For Hire Vehicle] program users have been taking since the program launched in May," the release said.