Yelling “back door” while trying to get let off a New York City bus is now official policy. On Sunday, the New York Post reported that the MTA ordered bus operators to stop automatically opening the back door except in an emergency; if riders want to exit, they will now have to manually open the rear doors. An MTA spokesperson told the Post this was to crack down on fare evasion by making people board at the front, while claiming that it still “continues to offer customers easy exits.”
The thing about utilizing multiple bus doors — and the new OMNY readers that have been installed at them — is that they make it faster and easier to board and exit the bus, ultimately reducing delays and making the bus a more appealing transit option. One sign of this is the fact that the MTA is still allowing select buses to automatically open their rear doors, since riders buy their fares beforehand or through the OMNY readers. (All-door boarding and off-board fare collection cut dwell time by 40 percent on the B44.) But instead, the MTA has decided to make things more complicated for the rest of the bus system in its single-minded campaign against fare evasion.
J.P. Patafio, who represents bus operators as the vice-president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, told the Post that the memo was “silly” given that drivers rarely open the back door on their own anyway. Last month, MTA chairman Janno Lieber blamed latte-drinkers for fare evasion, then tried to inspire some kind of citywide resentment over the issue. “What hardworking, fare-paying New Yorkers tell us, in a word, is that seeing fare evasion makes them feel like suckers,” Lieber said. Now the suckers are the ones banging on the back door to get off the bus, I guess.