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Muni: All-Door Boarding Continues to Increase Bus Speeds, Fare Payment

Image: SFMTA
Image: SFMTA

Seven months since Muni changed its policy to allow all-door boarding on all of its vehicles, the agency is reporting continued improvements in service and a drop in fare evasion.

On average, all-door boarding has saved buses up to four seconds of "dwell time" per stop, according to the SFMTA [PDF]. While that amount may sound small, the time savings add up on routes with dozens of stops. The improvement has been most pronounced on local lines, the report says.

Fare evasion, meanwhile, is down by 24 percent, according to the agency. When comparing the seven months of all-door boarding with the same months the previous year, the SFMTA says the fare evasion rate is down from 4.6 percent to 3.5 percent. The SFMTA also added 11 fare inspectors to increase enforcement with the launch of all-door boarding, bringing the total up to 53, since the new policy relies on random fare inspections rather than enforcement by Muni bus operators.

Mario Tanev, who led the all-door boarding advocacy campaign for the SF Transit Riders Union, applauded the SFMTA for implementing the policy change. "SFTRU has been a staunch advocate for all-door boarding and this report shows that when Muni puts its trust in riders, riders will return the favor," he said. "Dwell times have gone down, and so has fare evasion."

Tanev also noted, based on anecdotal evidence, that the change may have helped alleviate overcrowding, since riders boarding through the back door are more likely to fill up previously under-utilized space in the back, leaving more room for passengers in the front.

With the SFMTA's generally poor track record of delivering transit improvements in a timely fashion, Tanev said all-door boarding's successful, relatively swift implementation should encourage the agency to move more quickly on rolling out other upgrades from the Muni Transit Effectiveness Project.

"Muni needs to expedite pilot projects for improvements that have been proven around the world, such as all-door boarding, transit-only lanes and transit priority, rather than try to find the perfect plan that everyone likes," he said. "We don't need to reinvent the wheel in San Francisco, we just need to learn to roll it forward faster."

The SFMTA plans to release a more detailed report on the first six months of all-door boarding, though it's not clear when.

Muni officials are also slated to present an update on the overall implementation of the TEP at a forum tomorrow at SPUR.

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