NYC Politicians Ask MTA to Let Bus Drivers Enter Through the Back Door

Some Big Apple politicians are “concerned” that backdoor access on MTA buses will never come to fruition — even though the agency has already installed the right hardware that would help reduce bus times.

The Pols, led by Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, expressed their frustration in a May 13 letter to MTA CEO Janno Lieber.

“The MTA has already done the hardest part, which is installing OMNY readers on every door,” Levine told The Post on Thursday. “I’m amazed why they go to all the expense and trouble of installing OMNY readers on every door and not turning them on.”

Levine was referring to the completed installation of “OMNY” tap-and-go readers early last year, but the MTA has yet to turn them on — in part, they say, because nine out of 10 bus drivers still pay with cash or MetroCards.

But Levine said the technology is key to implementing “all-door boarding,” which he says is “the fastest, quickest way to expedite buses” by reducing the time it takes to load and unload passengers .

MTA officials earlier this month urged local bus drivers to set their consoles to only open the back doors when requested, citing concerns about fare evasion through the back door.

bus driver
A bus driver with his daughter on an MTA New York City Transit bus in the Bronx on May 16, 2022.
Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Mark Levine, President of the Borough of Manhattan
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine doesn’t understand why the MTA doesn’t use the back doors.

Almost a third of bus drivers don’t pay their fare, according to the MTA’s most recent survey. That number has risen since the COVID-19 pandemic, when the MTA briefly made buses free by requiring all drivers to board through the back door.

Levine, whose letter was also signed by seven city council members, acknowledged the MTA’s challenges regarding fare evasion – but said transit leaders need to figure it out.

All-door boarding is already available on the MTA’s Select Bus Service lines, allowing cash and MetroCard users to pay outside of the vehicle. Buses on the M79 are now spending 21% less time at stops than before the line switched to Select Bus Service, the letter said.

MTA payment
The “OMNY” readers provide passengers with a simple payment method to board the MTA.
MTA New York City Transit

“Systems around the world do it that way, and they also have to deal with fare evasion,” Levine said, citing the fare inspectors in London as an example.

“They are doing what the MTA is already doing on their SBS buses. Knowing you might be screened will give most people an incentive to pay their fare.”

The MTA did not comment on the content of the letter.

“We appreciate that council members and the district president understand our concerns about fare evasion in a system where one in three bus drivers is currently fare evasion,” MTA Representative Mike Cortez said in a statement. “We look forward to working with them on effective measures to increase bus speeds, including new bus lanes, camera surveillance and route redesign.” NYC Politicians Ask MTA to Let Bus Drivers Enter Through the Back Door


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