MTA bus drivers can no longer open back doors due to fare evasion

The MTA is ordering its bus drivers not to automatically open the rear and center doors of their vehicles to customers — to try and thwart free-loading mockers, the Post has learned.

“Effective immediately, to prevent fare evaders,” agency drivers “cannot use the rear door toggle switch to automatically open the rear/center unless required by an emergency situation,” read a May 6 memo , which was broadcast to all MTA bus operators.

The new policy will ideally force would-be fare-pushers to board through the front doors of the bus – and be confronted by the driver if they don’t pay.

This also means that bus drivers have to manually activate the rear and middle doors themselves if they want to exit through them.

Rear and middle doors on MTA Select Bus Service express routes will continue to open automatically at all stops, the memo said.

“The policy is designed to continue to provide customers with easy exits while preventing fare evasion by reducing the time rear doors are open while no one exits on local bus routes,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement to The Post Office.

MTA CEO Janno Lieber last month vowed to combat rising subway crime in part by establishing a review panel to see how to curb fare evasion, which has been rampant on both buses and trains during the COVID-19 pandemic also appeared in subways.

People enter the back door of a city bus.
The MTA instructed its drivers “not to use the rear door toggle switch to automatically open the rear/center door unless required by an emergency situation.”
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Nearly 30 percent of city bus drivers don’t pay, according to the MTA’s latest fare evasion survey, up from just over 20 percent at the end of 2019.

But JP Patafio, vice president of the bus division of Transport Workers Local 100 in Brooklyn, called the memo “silly” because drivers rarely open the back doors of the buses themselves anyway.

He said he hoped the implication would not be that bus operators should haggle over fares, which has led to abuse of drivers in the past.

“If someone comes through the back door, it’s usually because there are a lot of people getting off the bus,” he said. “The bus driver’s job is already a very difficult one, and we already know that enforcing fares leads to abuse and fights on the bus.”

MTA bus driver Denise Watkins prepares to start her route wearing personal protective equipment as she travels toll-free in the Bronx, New York, on Friday, April 24, 2020.
According to the MTA’s latest fare evasion survey, nearly 30 percent of city bus drivers don’t pay.
AP/John Minchillo

The MTA’s new policy defies its long-term goal of implementing all-door access and fare collection on all of its buses. OMNY Tap-and-Go card readers have been installed on all buses but are currently only switched on for select bus routes.

Lieber told reporters last month it was too early to turn on OMNY readers at the back door since the vast majority of bus drivers still pay with MetroCards or cash.

“I think we only have OMNY penetration between 10 and 15 percent on the buses,” he said. “It wouldn’t really be fair to try to manage back-door boarding on buses and limit it to OMNY customers.” MTA bus drivers can no longer open back doors due to fare evasion


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