Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza
Front-door boarding and fare collection on all MTA buses will resume on Aug. 31.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Front-door boarding and fare collection on all local and Select Bus Service buses will resume Monday, Aug. 31, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials announced Tuesday.
According to the MTA, front-door boarding will add up to 40 percent more space on buses, enhancing a rider’s ability to socially distance. Barriers of chains and vinyl curtains will be taken down from the middle area of the bus to increase social-distancing opportunities as well.
As front-door boarding resumes, the MTA said it is implementing other changes to increase separation between bus operators and riders in order to continue enhancing safety. The changes include blocking off the seat directly behind the bus operator, and moving the white line on the bus floor, which passengers are expected to stand behind, further away from the bus operator.
Polycarbonate sliders designed and assembled inside the MTA, and vinyl curtains to fully protect bus operators, continue to be installed on 4,800 local buses and are expected to be completed in the fall. Simultaneously, full-length vinyl curtains are being installed on 1,000 express buses and are expected to be complete this month. The agency indicated that it continues to block off the front two rows on express buses to allow distance between riders and the bus operator.
According to agency officials, the MTA’s bus revenue and bus ridership projections indicated a loss of approximately $431 million throughout the pandemic, based on regular pre-pandemic ridership. Based on the number of riders who actually boarded over the last several months, if the MTA had collected bus fares, those fares would have amounted to $159 million.
“Front-door boarding is a crucial step as we continue to support the reopening of New York City by making sure our buses have more space to socially distance and our bus operators are fully protected,” said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of New York City Transit. “Safety will always be our top priority. I’m grateful to our bus team for working closely with our labor partners to find a safe solution that protects operators and employees.”
The MTA also noted that Bridge and Tunnel Officers and NYC Transit agents (EAGLE teams) will be deployed throughout the bus system to remind customers of the need to pay the fare while entering through the front door starting Aug. 31 and of the requirement to wear a mask while on board.
“As bus fare collection resumes, Gov.[Andrew] Cuomo and MTA leaders must also implement all-door boarding on every local bus by year’s end as promised. Post-COVID, all-door boarding is more important to riders than ever. All-door boarding both helps riders maintain social distance and speeds up buses with the latest fare-payment technology,” Riders Alliance Organizing Manager Stephanie Burgos-Veras said. “With fare collection returning, Gov. Cuomo shouldn’t waste riders’ money on more MTA policing. Instead, the governor should make our transit system both fairer and safer by adding more frequent bus service to routinely overcrowded routes through New York’s most heavily transit-dependent neighborhoods.”