Although the New York City bus system is a little trickier than the subway system, it can be a handy way to get around Brooklyn along a more direct route than many subway lines offer. (Plus, you’ll have cell phone service during your whole trip!) Here are some tips on how to best utilize the bus system from point A to point B in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Bus Map courtesy of Mappery.

brooklyn-bus-9148330The B6 in Bensonhurst | via Wikipedia

The basics
Bus fare is $2.50, payable with your MetroCard or exact change — no dollar bills! Be sure you have money on your MetroCard before you board the bus, as you can only refill inside a subway station (with a few exceptions). NYC bus stops are located at street corners and are marked by a tall, round sign with a bus emblem and route number. Some stops will have bus shelters, and most include a “Guide-A-Ride” — a rectangular box attached to the bus sign pole that displays a route map and bus schedule.

When the bus arrives, be sure to read the destination sign on the front to check that the bus will take you where you want to go. Buses marked “Limited” make fewer stops.

Upon boarding, hold the MetroCard with the black stripe on the right and the MetroCard name facing you. The farebox will be directly in front of you as you board; just dip the MetroCard, your fare will be deducted automatically, and the MetroCard will pop back out.

Buses will stop every two or three blocks. When you’ve reached your stop, just push one of the tape strips located between the windows or one of the “stop” buttons on the bars. The bus driver won’t always announce the upcoming stop. If you’re unsure, just follow the bus route with your iPhone/Google map.

mta-bus-swipe-4049310Using your MetroCard | via NYC Transit Forums

Bus vs. subway?
The best way to decide whether you should take the bus vs. the subway is Google Maps. Google will list both bus routes or subway routes between your two destinations; just take whichever one looks easier or faster. You can also compare your route options at MTA Trip Planner.

When Is My Bus Coming?
Every New Yorker has waited way too long for a bus to come. Don’t rely on Google Maps for bus arrival times. Your best bet is to check or download MTA Bus Time, which is free. It’s a GPS system that allows you to track the real-time location of buses.

If you pay your fare with a MetroCard, you may transfer free from local bus-to-subway, subway-to-local bus or local bus-to-local bus within two hours of the time you paid your fare. Unlimited Ride MetroCard includes all transfers free of charge.

Local vs. Limited
Most buses you take in New York City are local routes. However, the MTA runs nine limited (express) bus routes from Brooklyn during weekday rush hours only. The limited bus will take you farther while making fewer stops, and the fare is $6.

Be sure to check MTA’s website for all of the local and limited bus routes in Brooklyn, as well as the official schedules.