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Muni looking to quicker system for boarding buses
Since installing Clipper Card readers on the front and back doors of Muni buses, riders have wondered if Muni would go to an all-door boarding system. At Tuesday's San Francisco Municipal Board of Transportation meeting, Muni chief Ed Reiskin said it could happen in 2012.
Systemwide all-door boarding would speed up boarding on Muni buses and reduce travel time for riders, said John Haley, director of transit operations. “The single biggest impediment in speeding up Muni is the fare transaction,” said Haley.
Currently Muni riders can only board the front of the bus, but can board on any door on the light-rail vehicles on the surface level, as long as they have paid the proper fare. Signs are posted on the back doors prohibit riders from boarding through the back of buses, although that sign is often ignored at crowded stops.
Before any implementation takes place, the transit agency needs to look at how to enforce the proof of payment policy.
“We certainly can't go to all-door boarding without a good education and enforcement process,” said Reiskin. He said he did not want to inadvertently tell riders that the Muni buses are free if they move to all-door boarding. The agency said it loses $20 million a year from fare evaders.
The agency has not put a cost on how much it would cost to go all-door boarding. Muni officials will study capital and operating costs in the coming months. In order for a successful launch, Haley said that Muni has to to get pre-pay tickets to riders. The idea is to have ticket machines at bus stops so riders can purchase a ticket and have them available at retailers nearby.
Muni will also be looking to see if they need to hire proof of payment officers to check its buses, another added cost to going all-door boarding. Reiskin said money was not budgeted for all-door boarding for the current fiscal year.
All of the agency's directors seem to be in favor of the policy.
“Every time I'm waiting on a bus, waiting for folks in single file get on through the front door – it feels like were burning money,” said Director Joel Ramos.
“I don't think we have the luxury to delay this any more than we have to,” said Ramos.
The San Francisco Transit Riders Union, a Muni rider advocacy group, supports the idea of all-door boarding.
”This one of the rarest situations where you really do have a win, win, win,” said Robert Boden, a representative of the advocacy group.