When waiting on line to board a bus through one door, some straphangers in a rush may cut the line. Others might not have exact change or forget their Metrocards.
The result is a slow entry process that extends commutes and leads to late or missed appointments.
Transit advocates from the Riders Alliance put the experience on display last Thursday morning prior to an MTA board meeting in Manhattan. Through a skit using 40-inch mockup doors, the advocates demonstrated the ineffectiveness of having just one door to enter.
According to the group, buses spend, on average, 22 percent of their operating time idling at bus stops.
Instead, Riders Alliance called for all-door boarding on buses to speed up entry and commuting times. Their demand is one of several suggestions released by the Bus Turnaround Campaign, along with rethinking some lines and enforcing bus lanes.
“We can make trips less stressful for riders and operators and make it faster,” said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, an organizer with Riders Alliance.
The demonstration came just days after New York City Transit President Andy Byford promised to release a “comprehensive plan” to improve bus service. He is expected to unveil the plan in April.
Last October, the MTA also approved a new tap-and-go fare payment system that will be installed in the coming years. Burgos-Veras said all-door boarding must go along with the new fare system.
She cited its success in other cities. In San Francisco, which implemented the change in 2012, there was a 38 percent reduction in boarding time.
Even New York City’s Select Bus Service (SBS) lines have seen a 40 percent reduction in waiting time, the group said.
The proposal has support among two key transit workers unions. Advocates said all-door boarding would mean drivers won’t have to monitor fare collection, which allows them to focus on the road.
After the brief demonstration, Riders Alliance members went upstairs to the MTA board meeting. Some shared their experiences of anxiety and being pushed when boarding buses.
They also signed the two mockup doors and presented them to both Byford and MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota.
“Two million people take the bus everyday, we shouldn’t have to wait to make it better,” Burgos-Veras said. “We should make it better now.”
The organizer added that Riders Alliance will continue putting pressure on the MTA to improve the bus and train system by conducting outreach events.
“We believe that our advocacy has really made them take action,” she said.
MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said Byford has already made a commitment to developing a plan for improved bus service.
“Everything is on the table,” he said in a statement.