All-door boarding on Muni — a key component to speeding up agency’s laboring bus lines — will begin on July 1.
Muni’s buses crawl through the busy network of San Francisco streets at an average speed of just 8 mph.
Officials at the agency have said that the biggest impediment to speeding up the system is boarding difficulties—currently, all passengers must enter through the front door of the bus, a process that can waste precious minutes. Although Muni has a voter-approved mandate to reach an 85 percent on-time performance rate, the agency has never come close to meeting that goal.
On July 1, things should change under a new policy shift that will allow passengers to board on the back of buses, according to Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni.
Many passengers already illegally board the back door of buses. Under the new plan, which was originally proposed last year, only users of the Clipper card—the region’s universal transit fare—will be allowed to board through the back door. Card readers have already been installed near the back door to meet that need. The agency also has plans to increase enforcement to ensure fare compliance.
Further details of the initiative, including specific enforcement strategies, will be discussed in the coming months, but the agency will have the all-door boarding option in place by July 1, said Rose.
Robert Boden, spokesman for the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, an advocacy group that has lobbied for all-door boarding, said the new plan will allow for quicker trips, greater reliability and a more comfortable ride. Improved transit service—from policies like all-door boarding—will entice more travelers onto Muni and out of their cars, thus reducing traffic congestion, he said.
“Muni is going to have work hard to ensure fare compliance,” said Boden. “But right now, we see this as a win-win situation.”
Making transit service more efficient will not only make it more attractive for Muni passengers, it will also have a significant effect on the bottom line of the agency’s finances. A 2010 study found that speeding up service by 1 mph throughout the system would save $76 million annually for the agency.