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.

2 minute read

October 10, 2017, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


MikeDott / Shutterstock

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." 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 in MBTA Data Blog

stack of books

Planetizen’s Top Planning Books of 2023

The world is changing, and planning with it.

November 24, 2023 - Planetizen Team

Close-up of 'Red Line Subway Entry' sign with Braille below and train logo above text in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Red Line Extension Could Transform the South Side

The city’s transit agency is undertaking its biggest expansion ever to finally bring rail to the South Side.

November 24, 2023 - The Architect's Newspaper

Diagram of visibility at urban intersection.

How ‘Daylighting’ Intersections Can Save Lives

Eliminating visual obstructions can make intersections safer for all users.

November 27, 2023 - Strong Towns

People walking on paved path in green city park with trees and tall city skyscrapers in background.

Green Spaces Benefit Neighborhoods—When Residents can Reach Them

A study comparing green space and walkability scores found that, without effective access to local parks, residents of greener neighborhoods don’t reap the health benefits.

December 3 - American Heart Association News

Aerial view of Eugene, Oregon at dusk with mountains in background.

Eugene Ends Parking Minimums

In a move that complies with a state law aimed at reducing transportation emissions, Eugene amended its parking rules to eliminate minimum requirements and set maximum parking lot sizes.

December 3 - NBC 16

White, blue, and red Chicago transit bus at an urban bus station with shelter.

Chicago Announces ‘Better Streets for Buses’ Plan

The plan establishes a ‘toolkit’ of improvements to make the bus riding experience more reliable, comfortable, and accessible.

December 3 - City of Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

"Rethinking Commuter Rail" podcast & Intercity Bus E-News

Chaddick Institute at DePaul University

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.