Public hearing on Thursday for all-door boarding on the 754 & 720 bus lines

pdf here

The public hearing for all-door boarding on the 754 Rapid and 720 Rapid will be this Thursday at 9 a.m. during the Metro Board’s System Safety, Security and Operations Committee. See the staff report above.

As part of all-door boarding, only fare payments with TAP cards will be accepted. There will be no more cash payments. The idea is to let passengers board at all doors in order to speed up both bus lines.

The goal is to implement all-door boarding on the 754 (Vermont Avenue) in June and then the 720 (Wilshire Boulevard) after that.

26 replies

  1. I think it’s imperative to allow people to pay with cash at the boarding location, and not send them over to the nearest 7/11, which might be several blocks away. However, it’s possible to have off-board payment without a full TVM at each stop. What’s needed is a small machine which accepts $1.75 and prints a paper ticket indicating the stop, direction, time of purchase and expiration time; that’s good enough for fare inspectors on the bus, and is what you get when paying cash on-board today. A small machine at every stop that sells the equivalent of a single-ride ticket is what London did when they got rid of on-board payment in the city centre (outlying areas still allowed on-board cash payments).

  2. This should be the case on all Rapid bus lines to make them rapid. On this board agenda is another item to make TAP cards available like all those gift cards on the rack at places like 7-Eleven, CVS, and grocery stores. The fee would be the usual $2 but they would be available within a mile of every Rapid stop, since there are CVSs, Walgreens, and 7-Elevens everywhere in the urban area. A person could load any amount from $5 to $100, so they could choose their selected dollar amount of load. This would eliminate the excuse of not have a TAP card.

    • That idea MIGHT just work! But ONLY if METRO is smart enough to actually do it, and NOT just talk about it, which is usually the case.
      This could actually create a platform, by which METRO could eliminate ALL cash payments. Tap cards could also be sole at hotels, as this would aid the tourists. In the hotel they should have a brocher that explains how to use it. It does not need to have any written language, just diagrams about6 do’s and don’ts of using the Tap Card.

    • Hi Christian,

      The hearing will be held during committee meetings, which take place here at Metro HQ, One Gateway Plaza. The board room is on the 3rd floor.

      Thank you,

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  3. In San Francisco (full disclosure – I work for the SFMTA in the training department), we went with all-door boarding system wide. We did this years before our new transit-only lanes and signal priority was installed. We kept our fareboxes. The result? On tourist-heavy lines, especially the F-Market, we didn’t see much of an effect because we still had long lines at the farebox. But on the lines that carry mostly locals with monthly passes and our equivalent to TAP cards? Service was dramatically faster! The 38-Geary (a very heavily used line, with 60′ coaches and service every 2-3 minutes with local and rapid sections) saw dwell times at stops drop by several seconds. That adds up to a couple minutes of running time per trip; it doesn’t sound like much, but that means you can operate the same service with fewer buses, saving real money. It’s impressive to watch a bus pull up to a stop, throw all its doors open, people pour off, people pour on, doors close, and the bus rockets off.

    • Hey Charles;

      Greetings from L.A. and thanks for this. I agree with you–makes buses more train-like in a good way.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. I think it’s worth mentioning that SF Muni in San Francisco dealt with the same fare evasion concerns before they implemented all door boarding. Their numbers indicate that fare evasion actually went down after all door boarding started.

    What the what, you might ask.

    Here’s why. First, prior to all door boarding a lot of people got fed up with lines at the front door and simply boarded the bus through the back door without paying. Second, there was little fare enforcement on buses prior to all door boarding — something the Muni implemented once ADB began.

    From their study:

    As shown in Table 3, the 2014 survey found that fare evasion has declined 1.6
    percentage points over five years to 7.9%. Specifically,
     Expanding fare enforcement to buses and historic streetcars has increased
    compliance by 2.4 percentage points on these modes. Perhaps due to this
    coverage shift, fare evasion appears to have increased on light rail vehicles,
    although it remains low at underground stations.
     Legalizing All-Door Boarding has encouraged more fare payers to enter through
    the rear. At 11.2%, rear-door fare evasion was higher than the 7.9% systemwide
    average, but significantly lower than the 55.3% found in 2009.

    I agree with commenters that traffic most impacts bus speeds. But I’m in the camp that believes we should do everything that we can to try to speed up buses and that all-door boarding seems like a common sense thing to try. My experiences in S.F. (albeit very limited) were very positive.

    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source

  5. You have to have, at a minimum, “rail station setting” bus stops and ample fare inspections for this to work. Implementing this at regular street stops will not work, and make the operator’s tough job even tougher.

  6. All Door Boarding is a great idea and one that I experienced first hand when I used to live in San Francisco, when they implemented it system-wide in 2012. Here’s an article highlighting the many successes of the switch to ADB, which I’ve listed below as well:
    – “…fare losses due to fare evasion dropped from $19.2 million in 2009 to $17.1 million in 2014 and fare evasion rates decreased from 9.5 percent in 2009 to 7.9 percent in 2014.”
    – “There have been other measurable benefits: reduced dwell times of 1.5 seconds (38 percent improvement) at bus stops and a modest increase in average bus speeds (2 percent). “

    • Hi Pat —

      I was in S.F. recently staying in Bernal Heights. The Muni app that allowed me to buy a couple of fares on my phone and then hop on/off the 24 bus — either front or back door — was pretty great. I wasn’t riding at peak hours, but I thought it was ridiculously convenient transit, given my airbnb was a half-block from a bus stop.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Until METRO does ALL of the things that the SF Muni has done, including signal prioraty, and dedicated bus lanes, this stupid idea is DOA, as far as I’m concerned!

  7. In response to B. Kuo, I am still unconvinced that all door boarding won’t just make things worse in the sinse of fare evasion. Show me hard numbers! PROOF!
    This dumb idea just won’t work on either the 720 or the 754! The buses are already packed like sardens, and ADB will just encourage more fare evasion as more people, who refuse to pay, enter via the rear doors. The idea of ADB looks great on paper, but, in practice is is going to create more financial problems for those of us that DO PAY! This dumb idea will NEVER work! I say, stop it NOW before it even gets started!

  8. I’m not sure if the commenters have actually had a chance to experience the difference pre- and post-ADB. I used to ride the Silver Line before ADB and you should see the lines that stretched around the block during the morning commute at El Monte just so people could individually insert 2 dollar bills and change. The problem is that as long as the bus takes cash, many people will continue to do that – scrunge up the change when they have to, not use TBMs, and get out of paying when they could. Certainly fare evasion is a concern, but it’s likely you’ll make that back in terms of ridership as service improves.

  9. Since I long have used a monthly (discounted) pass for my large amount of daily travel (including weekends & holidays) throughout the county, “all-door boarding” [ADB} doesn’t directly affect me.

    However, the experiment with ADB on Wilshire Bl. (where I often ride Line 20 & 720 buses) made it very clear that ADB is a terrible idea that worsens an already bad fare evasion problem, yet is most unlikely to make ANY significant contribution to speeding bus traffic on city streets (excepting, of course, on totally dedicated BRT routes, like Silver & Orange Lines).

    To be sure, delays from excessive “dwell time” at bus stops to allow boarding passengers to pay does occur to some extent, mostly during “peak periods” at a very few MAJOR stops (like the 720 stops at Vermont, Western, and Westwood).

    However, delay from passengers slowly filing on past the bus operator clearly is NOT one of the major factors slowing down Metro buses. [AND, Metro could experiment with banning cash fare payments WITHOUT having to allow all-door boarding on Lines 754 and 720–to see if that change would help.]

    If Metro really wants to speed up its buses, it should LEAN ON the L.A. City Department of Transportation (and other cities) to allow experimenting with giving “signal priority” for operators of Metro Rapid buses on the most heavily traveled routes (like 754 & 720) and the busiest times–not to mention to MetroRail operators on lines that operate on heavily trafficked streets (e.g., the Blue & Gold Lines).

    Also Metro needs to launch another campaign to remind bus passengers of the benefits (free-transfers for w hours) of using TAP cards on buses. Many of them still do not know this.


  10. I’m afraid I’m with the crowd on this one. Bad idea Metro. Want to speed it up, remove some of the lowest proforming stops, just a thought but who’s thinking?

    • Bingo!!! The constant additions of stops that have been added to a few of the Rapid lines over the years *cough*704*cough* have made riding some of them unbearable. Hey Metro, It shouldn’t take more than hour to travel 10 miles after 10pm you know.

  11. Interesting proposal, but the use of on-board vending machines raises a few questions.

    If enough customers purchase TAP cards on the bus, might that potentially slow things down? Each buyer would have to push a few buttons, read the interface, and insert cash into a machine (unless they take bankcards, which take time to validate and could get rejected). Would the TAP card’s initial purchase still add to the fare? Would there be enough room on a crowded bus for everyone to use the machines? If there are people lined up to use them, isn’t it realistically possible for a passenger to reach his or her stop before being able to make a purchase?

  12. I am opposed to all door boarding. It could cause people to be prosecuted for inadvertently violating the law. People who would be willing to pay their fare may board and forget to tap their tap card. Some people who are not familiar with the appropriate procedure may board without tapping. I sometimes forget to tap my tap card at a train station which lacks a turnstile, even though I have a 30 day pass, and can ride for no extra charge.

    It will be difficult for occasional riders to get tap cards in advance. Since the mayor of Los Angeles (who sits on Metro’s board of directors with 3 of his nominees) presumably supports Metro’s tap card policies, I hope that he has instructed his subordinates at the airport, at the harbor, and at Union Station to install tap card machines, and to inform each incoming visitor about the appropriate tap card procedures.

    • In most cities people have to use a fare card to enter rail. This would expand it to selected rapid lines (and hopefully in the future all rapid buses). TAP machines are already present at Union Station and the Aviation/LAX Green Line Station. Metro was going to install them at the LAX City Bus Center. By the end of the year they will be in every gift card rack at a supermarket, drug store, or convenience store. I fail to see the problem.

  13. Machiel, I couldn’t agree with you more!
    This wonky idea is just a band aid on a much greater problem. Fare evasion, especially on the 754 and the 204 is already extremely high, this idea will just make the METRO finances worse, forcing METRO to increase fares even more. This idea, of all door boarding, will NEVER solve the real problem, which is the traffic.

    • ADB is probably more politically and financially realistic than putting in bus lanes unfortunately. The car drivers will erupt in rage.

  14. Since I’ll never be able to attend a public hearing until I’m retired (if that milestone ever occurs…) hopefully my sentiments written here can be included in the public comment!

    In my travels to many of the world’s “leading” cities, LA comes in second behind Athens in fare evasion. In a system which has operating cost well well above most other transit equipped cities (about this.. why??) It’s terribly unfair that the relatively few of us who both USE and PAY for the service are left to further subsidize an already financially precarious system…

    My biggest concern about all-door boarding in LA, is that it will literally open the doors to further fare evasion and the degradation of a functional metro system that LA so desperately needs. Secondarily, the objective of all-door boarding is aimed at increasing speeds.. the irony of course is that passengers will speedily cram onto a bus, only to lunge forward a couple yards and sit in the same traffic that all those inefficient SOVs are sitting in. I don’t see this as a solution, or even a step towards solution. It’s an expensive band-aid for an operation that requires surgery.

    The Bus-Only lane on Wilshire is a joke until that bus / vehicle separation is actually enforced and the Vermont corridor should be rail. (these are the real solutions)

  15. I ride the 754 a lot and I think this will be a BIG problem as I have seen a hughe number of people getting on and paying with cash. This will ONLY work if METRO puts tap vending machines at EVERY stop.
    What about the many tourists that ride the 720? How are they supposed to know this in advance? Is the operator going to have to say “sorry, out of luck”? METRO is just going to loose money with this boondoopgle. There wouldn’t be this gigantic “preceiver” problem if operators would refuse to move the bus until people moved to the rear of the bus, thus making room for more people to board.