The free ride is coming to an end.
On August 31, the MTA is bringing back front-door bus boarding and charging riders the $2.75 fare once again.
The free rides have been a boon to Munir Chapman, who worked jobs at Madison Square Garden and Citi Field until the coronavirus pandemic hit.
"It does help that since a lot of people are not working, that we don't really have to pay for it like that," he said.
The back-door boarding began in March as a way to protect drivers from being exposed to the coronavirus. Because the fare box is by the front door, the MTA decided to do away with fare payment, too.
The MTA is bringing front-door boarding back now that buses are getting sliding plexiglass panels and curtains to better protect drivers from sick passengers.
The MTA estimates it would have collected $159 million had all bus riders been paying their way during the pandemic - a big sum but a fraction of the billions of dollars in red ink caused by plunging subway ridership.
"The fact is we do not operate a free service as much as we may want to and we cant afford to lose out on these revenues at this moment," Sarah Feinberg, the interim president of NYC Transit, said.
Riders struggling in the pandemic say the free bus trips have eased their financial burdens.
"This way I have money left over for other necessities, like lunch and other things I would buy," said one bus rider.
"I've been able to get to a lot of interviews, I've been able to get to a lot of places that I need to do in order to pay my bills and take care of what I need to take care of, because of not worrying about having to pay the bus," said another bus commuter.
The MTA's bus chief said it is also safer to have riders board from the front.
"We recognize the need to provide more space on board our buses, so that was one of the driving forces - the driving force - to do this," said Craig Cipriano, vice president of buses at NYC Transit.
The MTA's fare enforcement team will be out to remind riders that they have to board from the front and start paying their fare again. The team will also be reminding riders that they have to commute while wearing a mask.