Turnaround:
Fixing New York City's Buses
Riders stage skit to demonstrate the hardships of boarding buses through single door – Bus Turnaround

Riders stage skit to demonstrate the hardships of boarding buses through single door

Following President Byford’s promise Tuesday of a “comprehensive plan” in April to turnaround bus performance, bus riders and advocates call for the agency’s forthcoming “Bus Action Plan” to include a uniform policy of all-door boarding on local bus routes.

Riders assembled themselves in front of the MTA headquarters with two 40” mock-ups of MTA bus doors with bold “No Entry” symbols. Bus riders began to reenact the challenges encountered by riders when trying to enter a bus through multiple doors but finding a rear closed door and a voice directing riders to enter only through the front door.

The skit displayed frantic movements of riders trying to enter the bus and in search for the door that would let them enter. The only door available to board had a long line of riders, who visibly expressed frustration and desperation through their body language: crossed arms, tapping of feet and exaggerated, iconic eye-rolls. Moans and groans could be heard along with occasional shoving and tugging to move the line ahead.

Following the demonstration, bus riders then took off with their 40’’ doors to the 20th floor of MTA headquarters to share their stories and the importance of implementing all-door boarding. Bus riders present the doors to President Byford and Chairman Lhota with the signatures of bus riders to serve as a reminder that the “No Entry” printed on the door means more than a redirection and acts as barrier that forces riders to miss the bus and, all too frequently, to arrive late to work, school and doctor appointments.

“Buses play an important role in outer borough like the Bronx where I grew up. Growing up I never took trains to get between neighborhoods. Buses were essential to getting to doctor’s appointments, buying spices from the only Guyanese market, traveling to and from middle school and any extracurricular activities,” said Latchmi Gopal, Riders Alliance Member and bus rider from the Bronx. “Today, both of my parents rely on buses to get to any train station needed for work or running any errands outside of The Bronx. Allowing riders to enter through multiple doors would make buses efficient. It is only fair to bus riders, like my parents to have an equitable commute!”

MTA’s new fare payment technology can be a powerful tool for making bus trips faster for passengers and safer for bus operators. Fare payment is a major source of bus delay. Riders board one-by-one through the bus’s front door and dip a MetroCard or drop coins into a fare box. As a result, buses spend an average of 22% of their operating time idling at bus stops.

In addition to reducing bus travel time for riders, all-door boarding positively impacts bus operators who carry the unfair burden of being de facto fare payment monitors. All-door boarding takes drivers out of the business of fare collection and allow them to concentrate on getting passengers to their destinations more quickly and safely.

Last fall, the Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union both joined the call for the MTA to implement all-door boarding. After citing multiple incidents of driver altercations with riders about fare collection, the authorized representatives of MTA bus drivers made clear that all-door boarding is about safety for bus operators.

In addition, to making it easier to board for riders, safer for bus operators, it makes trips faster. On M15, Bx12, and B44 Select Bus Service routes, which offer all door boarding, dwell time saw a reduction of 40%. San Francisco, which implemented all door boarding system-wide in 2012, saw a 38% reduction in boarding time.  These savings allow bus riders to spend more time with their families and doing things they love rather than being stuck on a bus.

“For bus riders boarding is one of the most stressful parts of taking the bus and all-door boarding can change that, said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, Senior Organizer with the Riders Alliance. This is a crucial opportunity for President Andy Byford to include all-door boarding city-wide in his bus action plan. Riders have suffered for too long, and now is the time to turnaround our buses.”

“Bus riders know that all-door boarding would make for a faster and safer ride, and should be made a priority as the MTA begins to roll out its new fare payment system,” said Jaqi Cohen, Campaign Coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign “Installing all-door boarding on local buses systemwide would be a win-win for the agency, as it would ensure faster trips and happier bus riders. ”

“The MTA and City need to take ambitious actions to turn around a bus system that is failing New Yorkers. All door boarding has been proven to save riders time and make bus trips more reliable and should be used make buses work better for riders of all routes,” said Tabitha Decker, Deputy Executive of Transit Center.

“We know all-door boarding can speed up bus trips by cutting down on the amount of time buses spend at stops–sometimes by as much as fifty percent. All-door boarding should be one of the cornerstones of the bus action plan the MTA is putting together,” said Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

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