Muni to test rear-door boarding

Muni bus passengers with tickets will be allowed to board some buses through rear doors then face random ticket checks by roving transit police under a trial effort to speed up transit.

Muni buses are currently crawling along city streets at an average of 8 miles an hour and have consistently missed the 85 percent on-time arrival goal established by voters in 1999.

The proof-of-payment initiative will mimic the system currently used on the rail system, such as N-Judah and T-Third light rail, that allows commuters with monthly passes and transfers to board without showing proof of payment unless approached by a fare enforcer.

The pilot project, which is expected to begin on The City’s busiest lines this winter, was unanimously agreed upon Tuesday by Municipal Transportation Agency along with a slew of other proposed Muni initiatives. The all-boarding project and other changes are part of a 20-year transit plan focusing on increasing reliability to meet the needs of future commuters.

The effects of all-door boarding on front-of-bus crowding, on fare evasion, and on “interaction” between passengers and drivers will be studied.

“All-door boarding is great because when large crowds are getting on the bus, or when large crowds are getting off the bus, you don’t have a bottleneck at the front,” said Andrew Sullivan, chairman of Rescue Muni, a transit watchdog group.

He said fare evasion is a barrier to the widespread adoption of all-door boarding. Muni should be “really explicit with the public” through new signs to make sure passengers know that they are allowed to board through rear doors, according to Sullivan. He said signs in buses currently forbid rear-door boarding.

In addition to the proof of payment project, long-term traffic upgrades will begin by 2012 to speed up buses along the Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard corridors through the introduction of exclusive bus lanes and bus-friendly traffic signals, according to the planning document.

jupton@examiner.com  

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