Back-Door Boarding Coming to Muni?

door out of service
Photo by Casey Hussein Bisson

Could it be? It’s been talked about since before the wheel itself was invented: Will Muni officially allowing passengers to board its buses via those ever-popular back doors?

Sure, you’ll say, plenty of upstanding citizens already use the back door to board buses. Hell, on Muni Metro light-rail vehicles, it’s legal and often encouraged to speed up the boarding process.

Now, SFGate reports, “transit officials are looking at whether to expand all-door boarding to the bus fleet.”

Streetsblog SF has explored the topic numerous times. Here are a couple of good reads: “To Reduce Delay and Fare Evasion, Muni Considers All-Door Boarding” and “Speeding Up Muni By Letting All Aboard, Through Any Door.”

What do you think? Could it work to speed things up? Would you immediately begin taking Muni up on its offer to board the back door of a bus when there’s a logjam up front?


  • I get that the policy is there to deter the fare evaders, but the only real way to stop them is to step up enforcement. I’ve seen fare inspectors a few times, but in the past year of riding, I think I’ve only been checked once. On the other hand, it seems like every time I travel to another location with proof-of-payment transit I get checked. Just like the Chinatown parking meters, nobody cares unless you have visible enforcement. Most people split between the doors already anyway to speed boarding and I’m one of them.

  • Fare evaders are an unavoidable problem. How about plain clothes fare inspectors? In 3 years I’ve never seen a fare inspector on a bus, and only once have seen a driver ask a fare evader to get off the bus. Remove every other bus stop, and enclose the rest with fare gates and payment machines. No payment? No access to the doors of the bus. Curitiba, Brazil does it right!

  • MDS

    I regularly use the back doors, both to avoid the front of the bus log-jam, and to get a seat, especially at a big transfer point when lots of people are getting off. There’s a clipper card reader there for a reason, right?

  • Cool. You mean on buses, right? Not LRVs?

    Do operators ever get upset about this?

  • I boarded a 29 at SF State yesterday through the front door because everyone was trying to get in through the back door. College kids aren’t that smart, are they? Anyway, as I was headed for a seat, the driver was yelling at them that boarding through the back door was illegal. She didn’t really do anything about it though.

  • I do it all the time… But I also pay my fare (via my Clipper card with my Muni only pass) every time I board through the back doors.
    Letting everyone board every door seems like a bad official policy, unless there’s a better way to get everyone to pay. This can’t be rocket science… When I’m in Boston I never see anyone evade their fare on the buses – Same in most other major cities I’ve been to in the US and elsewhere.

    A better way to speed up the commute is for drivers to be vocal and tell people to move to the back of the bus, and enforce payment, and to make sure no one is blocking the stair wells.
    And get rid of more stops so the buses aren’t constantly stopping/starting.

  • I’ll be honest, the wording of the article title made me giggle.

  • Erik

    The only way this works is if they actually start doing fare enforcement on every line. They don’t need to catch every person who doesn’t pay; they just need to make sure that people know that there is a non-zero chance of getting fined, even on a bus. Seeing fare inspectors above ground more than once every two or three years would make a difference I think.

  • Mike

    I moved here in 2008 after living in Los Angeles for over 20 years, riding mass transit exclusively all of that time, never owning a car. In all of that time, I can count on one hand the number of times I saw people try to sneak on board through the rear doors. People just don’t do it. Why? Is it because of fare inspectors? NO. It is because the drivers enforce the rule that people can only board via the front door. The few times I did see people try to board via the back door, the drivers refused to move until the people came up front and paid.

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