Riders along a major MTA bus line linking the Bronx and Queens are dealing with more than delays and overcrowding. Fare payment machines have been out of service since the January blizzard. Transit Reporter Jose Martinez has that story.

No, the MTA is not offering free rides on its newest Select Bus Service line.

But it's understandable why Bronx commuters catching a Queens-bound Q44 at East 177th Street and Tremont Avenue might think that.

"Every day you come here, it's the same thing," one rider said. "It's out."

The machines used by riders to pay fares and get receipts before boarding have been out of service since January 25. So they're being asked to do the honorable thing.

"We have to get on the bus and get off at the next stop to go get a ticket and that's a hassle," said one rider.

That's because like all SBS lines — the Q44 runs on an honor system. If you don't have a receipt, you could get a summons if MTA security boards and asks for proof of payment.

"I bet a lot of people here get a lot of tickets," said one rider. "Because once you get on a bus, there's so many undercovers there waiting for people. So other people that don't have them tickets, they can't show that they wanted to pay, you know?"

An MTA spokesman says the agency's officers are being told about the out of commission fare machines, and have been asked to show discretion when issuing summonses.

Some riders say they've been avoiding any chance of conflict by going to nearby stops for the line which runs from the Bronx Zoo to Jamaica, Queens.

"The only thing I've really been doing is like, just going up the block," said one rider. "Like, which is really far from where I'm coming from, to get the bus."

The MTA pins the power problem on an interruption of electricity to a light pole next to the bus stop.

Riders are wondering why it's taking so long.

"It's very frustrating because I'm pregnant, it's cold outside, there's snow outside," said one rider. "No one has time to get off the bus and do all that."

The MTA says it's been assured by ConEdison that the utility will put its troubleshooting team on the case. But even after that, the utility says the city still has to do more work before power to the machines is restored.