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MBTA Pilot Makes the Case for All-Door Boarding

The MBTA pilot tested all-door boarding on two bus lines and found that the little-used best practice improved transit service.
October 10, 2017, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and BostonBRT recently partnered on a pilot project that brought all-door boarding to Silver Line 4 and 5 from May 24 to June 6, 2017. A post on the MBTA's Data Blog shares the results of the pilot.

According to the MBTA, the goal of the pilot "was to measure how service improved when passengers could board at each door instead of lining up at the front door." And service did improve: "[showing] modest benefits at the median, and very large benefits at the 90th percentile." As expected, boardings with many people benefitted a great deal: "dwell times at stops with 30 or more boardings were cut in half during the pilot, saving roughly one minute each."

The pilot project included an intercept survey to ask passengers about their impression of the Silver Line. Here are the pertinent results from the survey:

In general, SL 4/5 riders are happy with their existing service on a typical day (with 80% of respondents to the survey reporting being at least somewhat satisfied). Satisfaction with the trip during the pilot period was even higher, with 90% of respondents being at least somewhat satisfied. Generally in surveys we see higher satisfaction with a particular trip than with MBTA service overall, but the gap for the Silver Line survey is bigger than we normally see. 

After sharing all the good news and positive reviews for the all-door boarding experiment, the post concludes by announcing that the MBTA is "working to implement this change with the procurement of a new fare collection system" and "working with municipal partners and BostonBRT to pilot other aspects of improved bus service." 

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 in MBTA Data Blog
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