How is Muni’s back-door boarding working for you?

Photo by Devon Shaw

Muni began letting passengers enter through the back door in July. Go ahead — I’ll give you a minute to get the snickering out of your system (don’t worry — I’m laughing, too).

Five months into the program, we’re wondering what you think of it.

In a letter-to-the-editor-style email, Muni rider Nic lets his thoughts be known:

“[T}his City often lacks a certain amount of order and civility. One notable exception used to be the Muni express buses. Instead of the usual scrum jockeying for position to board the bus, the riders of these buses would wait in orderly lines to board in the order they arrived …

“No more …

“Now, there is one line, but there are two doors. Sometimes the open back door is ignored and tranquility prevails. Often, however, one jerk breaks for the back door hoping to score the window seat, no matter his place in line. And once one person goes through the back door the dreaded scrum returns.

“I welcomed official recognition for back-door boarding. On lines such as the 38, with its four doors and double-length, there is no reason for everyone to board in the front. But I want to put out a call for a return to front-door boarding in the one place where it makes sense — the express bus. Please, riders, let us return to the days where politeness reigned supreme and jerks were not rewarded with those single seats with a lot of leg room.”

At least as far as Muni’s on-time rates go, there’s been no noticeable improvement.

What do you think? Does boarding Muni via its back doors speed things up for you and your fellow passengers?


  • Kristin

    I’m not sure where this gentlemen is coming from, I take two express buses every day, one from the start of the line (the Nx and the 16x). No one has ever lined up in an orderly fashion. I am enjoying the back door boarding. I find that the older folks tend to stick with the front door boarding (they want the priority seats? the back of the bus makes them uncomfortable? who knows) and I’m free to hustle on to the back. One particular hated Nx driver does not open the back door, forcing everyone to board through the front, and on a weekday at 7:30 AM, it does take a lot longer to get moving. I haven’t found anyone in this town to respect the “you came first, you get to board first” mentality, especially those older folks who are boarding through the front door. I’m happy to board through the back.

    • Kristin

      The more I think about this, the more confused I become. So people want to board through the backdoor, except when they don’t? Why not just make two lines, one for the front door and one for the back? Surely this is the type of organization all door boarding was aiming for?

    • MikeM

      Kristin, I also ride the 16X on occasion, it is probably the most civilized bus in the city, it’s proof that Muni really varies from line to line, neighborhood to neighborhood.

  • Mike

    Totally agree with Nic above. As a long time rider of the 31bx, 31ax, and 38bx this annoys the heck out of me. Watching the person who breaks the line first does, however, give you a pretty good clue about who the assholes in your neighborhood are. Really love it when the driver doesn’t open the back door and somebody pries it open.

  • Nnagzo

    It has been a bummer for me too. I don’t know about Kristin’s stops, but most people do line up at the unmarked express bus stops in the financial district. I’m usually one of the first in line, and there are usually 10 or so empty seats towards the back of the bus which get snatched up by people boarding from the rear. I’ve taken Muni for years and know its not first come first serve, but it always bums me out to be standing there forever and then loose a seat so someone who just walked up.

  • Montira

    I appreciate that MUNI has finally let us board through the rear doors of buses. That has certainly helped to make boarding faster. As for orderly boarding, that remains to be seen. I’m guessing that Nic must live in a special part of town where people still know how to board the buses in a civilized manner. Apparently, that would not be Chinatown/North Beach, where people trample each other to get on the first #1, #30, or #45 bus that arrives, as if it were the only bus going through town all day long.

  • ECC930

    Montria & Kristen, Nic is refering specifically to the afternoon express lines that start @Davis & Pine.
    Honestly it was a little irritating at first, but now I really don’t care. 90% of the time I still get to sit somewhere and the ride really isn’t so long that standing for a bit after sitting for 8 hours will kill me. The really annoying part of standing is all the jostling that happens when the bus stops every block, which doesn’t happen w/ the express.

    I do think sometime soon we’re all just going to need to give up on the queue and treat the express like any other bus. This is how it is now, it is a bit more efficient and so it goes. I know it really does bug a lot of people, though, and the most logical fix since the back door thing isn’t going away is to just lose the line and the expectation that getting to the stop first actually means anything, which at any other place in the city it doesn’t.

  • I find it interesting that certain stops on certain lines have a queue — and others it’s more of a free for all. I frequently get on the 8ax or 8bx but at Harrison and 5th, so long after it’s ended the express portion of the trip. I love back-door boarding because I’m able to quickly get onto the bus and find a spot to sit or stand.

  • Annie

    I’m finding all-door boarding a nightmare. It’s impossible now to get OFF the bus through the back doors because the instant they open, people try to board, so now you have a mad scramble at both doors. When a bus is crowded, the last few back-door boarders can’t or won’t clear off the back steps. I can’t believe it actually makes anything faster.

    • Syd

      I like all-door boarding because now people are less apt to crowd at the very front of the bus while the back of the bus might be nearly empty (especially riding through Chinatown). But I do agree with you about it being nearly impossible to get off. I know it’s a stretch, but people here really need to learn how to wait until everyone off-boards first. If they can do it in London, a city with millions more people, why not here?

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