Metro staff recommends all-door boarding test for Silver Line

I've been waiting for the right weather and light to take this pic for a while now. As seen from the Expo Line's Jefferson/USC Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Metro tested all-door boarding on some key stops on the 720 Rapid Bus last summer on Wilshire Boulevard. The above study provides the official results: the boarding of buses was quicker, helping buses better stick to their schedules.

The next step: Metro staff are recommending testing all-door boarding along the entire Silver Line, with a planned date to begin this summer. The decision to go forward with the test program will be made by the Metro Board of Directors.

Why the Silver Line? Based on last summer’s testing, Metro thinks the time savings benefits will be greatest on a high-frequency, high-ridership line that already has a bus lane and/or traffic signal priority. The Silver Line runs between El Monte Station, downtown Los Angeles and San Pedro, using the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways for part of its journey. Its ridership was estimated at about 16,800 average weekday boardings in February, the highest ever for the line.

The Silver Line meets those criteria. As part of the test, Metro staff are also proposing that all customers use TAP, with plans already in place to put TAP vending machines at key Silver Line stations, including Harbor-Gateway. TAP validators would also be installed at the front and rear doors of buses. Having all riders use TAP will make fare enforcement easier.

As part of the test, Metro staff are also proposing that all customers use TAP, with plans already in place to put TAP vending machines at key Silver Line stations, including Harbor-Gateway.

We’ll see what action the Board takes. But it’s certainly an interesting program that potentially could shave a few minutes off travel times. Your thoughts, riders and readers?

Here’s video of the all-door boarding on the 720 last year:

And here’s the full Metro staff report evaluating last year’s all-door boarding pilot on the 720:

29 replies

  1. Will the TAP validators on the Silver Line be able to deal with TAP cards which have a non-Zone+ EZ Pass, but enough additional cash value to deal with the express fare? The drivers I’ve met on the route have not been able to deal with it, however the drivers on the old 439 express could.

  2. My thoughts?:
    1) Initiate plans to replace both Silver & Orange bus lines with rail (why are busways on’s “Rail Map” anyway?)
    2) Restrict access to bus-boarding platforms via TAP-initated turnstiles (why put a validator at each bus door?)

    • I was thinking the same thing plus you could save a bit of money on silver line since you could connect it with the expo line in expo park through the regional connector to union station using the gold line right of way then just built it to El Monte station. Possibility to extended beyond El Monte

  3. Seniors generally pay with coins. Test won’t be accurate if only TAP cards permitted.
    Seniors pay with coins because no Service Center on Westside, to renew Senior Tap Card, since La Brea/Wilshire office was closed.

  4. Since the 720 experiment was obviously a success, why is Metro not making it permanent?? Wilshire is the most heavily traveled bus line and all-door boarding is most valuable there!

  5. Even if people do have a valid TAP card to pay, a validator at the back of a bus won’t work because the driver will be too busy watching the people pay then to glance at the back to see if people are tapping. The following video proves it doesn’t work:

    • Actually, MUNI has reported that there is a marked increase in bus speed in the city well off-setting any losses.

  6. I think it is a great idea. I would like to be able to buy my day pass before boarding the bus because I seem to hold up the line fumbling with my tap card and money. Being able to buy the day pass before boarding the bus would help me as well as the rest of the passengers boarding the buses on the Silver Line. I would like to suggest Metro get Metroliner buses for the Silver Line. The buses are too crowded now and the current fleet no longer seems to hold enough passengers except on weekends.

  7. Metro needs to be able to handle the situation with people who are coming off Metrolink or municipal buses and have paper transfers – how do they pay the surcharge? The Silver Line is a good line for fare enforcement since there are long gaps where there are no stops, allowing for tickets to be issued, but there needs to be strong enforcement or it will turn into a free for all like on the Blue Line, where LASD personnel have not been meeting their own targeted number of inspections for quite some time.

  8. There’s no way to enforce it unless you have a sheriff officer at every single stop, look at what was happening with the Orange Line. They discovered there was an incredible amount of fare evasion occurring. So I don’t see this really working. Sure busses may speed up a couple of minutes, but at what cost.

  9. I don’t doubt that boarding will be faster, but I suspect that fare evasion will be much higher. It’s a higher fare than normal. Higher than the trains, which metro claims had an unacceptable level of fare evasion and necessitated turnstiles.

    And with fare evasion comes problems. A wide variety of people fare evade, but one thing that they have in common is that they tend to make the ride less enjoyable for everyone else.

  10. Couple of questions:
    1) You say there are plans in place to “put TAP vending machines at key Silver Line stations.” Does that mean there are some stations that won’t have TAP vending machines?
    2) How will this work at the Downtown LA or San Pedro street stops? Is there a plan to put TVM’s out on the sidewalks?
    3) Will passengers still be able to pay cash at an onboard farebox? If so, that’s going to still slow things down.
    4) Will Metro also put faregates or validators (“virtual faregate”) at stations to speed boarding further?

    • Based on New York City’s experience with bus rapid transit (NYC Transit’s “Select Bus Service” , or SBS for short), I can answer your questions:

      (1) All SBS routes (B44+, BX12+, BX41+, M15+, M34+, M60+, M86+ and Q44+) have vending machines at all of the stops, usually two machines that only accept the MetroCard (NYC Transit’s fare card for its buses and subways), as well as a separate vending machine that accepts quarters for payment with a receipt that prints out of the machines with which passengers must take with them. Two or three fare inspectors may come inside the bus to make sure each rider has a valid receipt.
      (2) That question can only be answered by Metro, but even in Midtown Manhattan (M15+ and M34+ routes serve Midtown), all bus stops have the vending machines.
      (3) Passengers cannot pay onboard any of the SBS buses; MetroCard holders must use the vending machines and cash payments must be in quarters at a separate vending machine.
      (4) That question can only be answered by Metro.

      I wish Metro the best on the experiment they are undertaking with the Silver Line bus.

  11. Steve,

    As this report is a public document, can you give us a link to a place where we can download it for free and not have to sign up for a service, even if it is “free” for two weeks?

    What is the link please?

    • Hi Erik;

      Here’s the link to the agenda page — click on the System Safety Operations committee for March 17, see item 31 and you can download from there. I was remiss in not including direct link on the post. I like Scribd because it allows us to embed documents.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  12. Metro staff has omitted Blue Line Disruptions like today’s incident (3/11) as one of the causes of the Silver Line bus delays. Traffic is also a true cause of this problem. It takes more than two hours to travel the entire line from SP to El Monte between 4 pm to 7 pm during the winter rainy days due to heavy traffic on both the carpool lanes and the surface streets. The traffic problems along the route must be fixed.

    Before Metro conducts this test. I needs to issue tap cards to all the students and employees of the schools and activity centers near the line in order to have an meaningful test result.
    Kaiser Permanente
    UCLA Medical Center
    USC Medical Center
    Cal State L.A.
    L.A. County High School of the Fine Arts
    All the L.A. City Colleges

    Not all the transit providers along the route takes tap cards:
    Rosemead Explorer (El Monte Station)
    Greyhound (El Monte Station)
    Alhambra Bus (Cal State L.A. Station)

    Metro need to take care of the tap card, traffic and overcrowding issues up front before this test.

  13. What the critics of all door loading don’t know is this has been in use for years in Europe. Back in 1980 when I traveled in mostly German speaking counties there where both buses and trams allowing people to load at all doors. Buses had ticket machines for passengers to buy their tickets after boarding. This prevented the long waits with some people digging into their pockets that you often see on as you enter fare payment. What keeps people from skipping paying? Random fare inspections check passenger tickets to catch cheaters. The fine itself for not buying a ticket makes up for money lost from fare cheaters .

    • “Random fare inspections check passenger tickets to catch cheaters”

      You do realize this was the system we’ve been using at Metro with disastrous results of close to 20% fare evasion rates on the Orange Line? And you do realize that even Germany, the country you praise so much, is dealing with similar high fare evasion rates?

      Much like Bernie Sanders’ logic, copying Europe is not the answer to solve any of our problems.

      All door boarding will cause more problems than it’s meant to solve. We need better fare enforcement compounded with more TAP readers at all stations, not some. You can’t fix a sinking ship without fixing the leaking hole and going to an all door boarding will only make things matters worse.

  14. This is interesting and in fact was promised in the El Monte Station rebuild plans a few years back. I have ridden the Silver Line for years and my thoughts are:

    1. ADB + enforcement during rush hour when the benefits to efficiency are the greatest, and business as usual during other times.
    2. Reduce farebox malfunctions on the bus where an entire busload of passengers end up not paying. I estimate that this happens around 10-15% of my rush hour rides.

  15. Are automatic transfers coming soon? Because all door boarding works great & when I’m in San Francisco I love being able to just get on with a tap of my clipper card. But the system won’t be efficient on Metro without automatic transfers. Our system requires riders to transfer to a number of different local transportation systems & the majority of riders purchase those with cash. Without a way to do away with that bottleneck all door boarding won’t reach its full potential.

  16. As someone that picks it up at Harbor Gateway and rides through to the El Monte station, I’m all for shaving time per stop. Even 15 seconds a stop adds up quick over a route.

  17. Anything that speeds up service is good for the system. As someone pointed out, the penalty for failure to pay a fare is great and more than makes up for the loss of revenue. Los Angeles is so spread out with vast distances taking so much time to traverse, thus
    time and speed are of the essence; all else are lesser problems.

  18. i don’t know whether it is hilarious or just pathetically stupid that the video demonstrating all door boarding showed nearly the entire boarding taking place at exactly one door on a bus with three doors.