Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

Riders and Bus Drivers Urge MTA to Bring All-Door Boarding to Every Route in the City

1:23 PM EDT on October 19, 2017

MTA bus operator James Fuller has been assaulted on the job several times, almost always because of conflicts related to fare collection. Photo: David Meyer

Bus riders and drivers gathered outside MTA headquarters this morning to demand citywide all-door boarding, which the agency can mandate in its upcoming contract for a new fare collection system.

All-door boarding is possible when fare collection doesn't depend on transactions at the front of the bus. In NYC, this is limited to Select Bus Service routes, but the results have been impressive. On the B44, for example, once passengers could pay before boarding and use any door, the boarding process took 40 percent less time [PDF].

For bus drivers, all-door boarding has the added appeal of reducing the potential for conflicts with passengers and enabling them to fully concentrate on operating the bus.

"I have been assaulted, I have been spit on, I have been beaten up to the point where I had to have multiple stitches on my face," said bus operator James Fuller, a member of TWU Local 100, which represents the bulk of the MTA's unionized workforce. "Ninety percent of the conflicts -- 95 percent -- were about the fare box."

The MTA put out a request for proposals for its next fare payment system last summer. Advocates flagged the RFP as a chance to guarantee the new platform supports electronic proof-of-payment, which enables all-door boarding without the costly and unreliable off-board fare machines currently used on SBS lines. This past May, 67 state legislators called on Governor Cuomo to make all-door boarding standard across the MTA's bus network.

MTA officials, however, have been reluctant to commit to citywide all-door boarding, arguing that fare evasion might increase. Evidence in San Francisco and on SBS routes here in New York, however, suggests that won't be an issue.

The coalition that organized today's presser says the MTA has reached an agreement with a vendor to implement the new fare-collection system, and that the contract could go before the MTA board for approval as soon as next week.

"It's very clear that all-door boarding just makes sense," said Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Nick Sifuentes said. "What we need now is for the MTA to actually step up and do the right thing."

"It's going to move buses more efficiently, and our bus operators are not going to have to worry about arguing with passengers, getting spit on, getting assaulted, having coffee thrown on them," said TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano, who also called for all-door boarding implementation in the Daily News. "The bus operator can just worry about getting the passengers to where they want to go in a timely fashion."

Fuller, the bus driver, said he had already seen the benefits of all-door boarding while operating free shuttle along the M line in Queens during subway service closures. "People come in on all the doors. The bus is loaded in almost no time," he said. "If we can implement that throughout the system, it would be a wonderful advantage to the public, as well as to us."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Why Sustainable Transportation Advocates Need to Talk About Long COVID

Covid-19 transformed many U.S. cities' approach to sustainable transportation forever. But how did it transform the lives of sustainable transportation advocates who developed lasting symptoms from the disease?

September 24, 2023

Analysis: ‘Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program’ is a Failure By All Measures

The Department of Transportation wants the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program to simply expire in part because it did not dramatically improve safety among these worst-of-the-worst drivers and led to a tiny number of vehicle seizures.

September 22, 2023

School Bus Driver Kills Cyclist in Boro Park, 24th Bike Death of 2023

Luis Perez-Ramirez, 44, was biking south on Fort Hamilton Parkway just before 3:15 p.m. when he was struck a by school bus driver making a right turn.

September 22, 2023

‘Betrayal’: Adams Caves to Opposition, Abandons Bus Improvement Plan on Fordham Road

The capitulation on Fordham Road is the latest episode in which the mayor has delayed or watered down a transportation project in deference to powerful interests.

September 22, 2023

Friday’s Headlines: Yes He Said Yes He Will Yes Edition

That headline above is a reference to the last line of James Joyce's Ulysses, which we won't pretend to have read. But we have that ... and other news.

September 22, 2023
See all posts