Transit advocates are pushing for the MTA to speed up bus service by transforming the way riders pay their fares. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
There are more than 300 MTA bus lines in the city, but only 10 where riders can pay fares in advance and board at any door.
"It gives you more leeway to getting on the bus, first of all. And it cuts down a lot of aggravation and frustration of everybody trying to crowd into one specific area," said one commuter.
"It's a much easier process," said another. "There's multiple doors, the fare is already paid."
The board-anywhere feature exists only on Select Bus Service routes. The MTA has been increasing the number of those lines, but slowly.
But now, transit advocates, and some MTA board members, want to expand the concept to all local MTA bus routes.
"It addresses one of the things riders hate, which is this long line where you narrowly go into the bus and you try to place yourself," said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney with Straphangers Campaign.
"We think that turning around the decline in bus ridership requires faster and more reliable bus service. All-door boarding on our routes citywide could be a very helpful way to acheive this," said Tabitha Decker, director of research for TransitCenter.
Transit officials disputed that the MTA is far behind on practices already employed elsewhere.
"We understand the importance and value that all-door boarding would provide. I don't think anybody takes issue with that. I do think there are a number of significant thresholds that need to be crossed before we do that, not the least of which is being fare evasion or security on buses," said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast.
The MTA already sends security officers onto its Select Bus Service lines to check for farebeaters. But expanding those Eagle Teams to all the lines in the system would be a pricey undertaking, the agency says.
"In terms of the number of people and the costs associated with it," Prendergast said.
The MTA is bringing Select Bus Service to Brooklyn's B46 in July, promising a speedier ride on the city's third-busiest line, which runs along Utica Avenue. And this fall, all-door boarding will expand to the M23, along 23rd Street in Manhattan, and to the Q70, which links two subway stops in Queens to LaGuardia Airport. All good, say advocates. Just not good enough.