Metro rolls out all-door boarding on Wilshire express bus

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Starting Sunday, riders taking Metro’s 720 bus line will have a few doors to choose from when boarding.

The transit agency has installed TAP card readers at all three entrances to the double-length buses that serve the express route, which runs along nearly all of Wilshire Boulevard before continuing through East LA along Whittier Boulevard. That will allow passengers to board from the middle or the back of the bus, rather than just the front.

If you don’t ride the line, that might not seem particularly exciting. But all-door boarding along key bus routes could make service more reliable systemwide.

All-door boarding has already reduced the amount of time Silver Line buses sit idling at stops, ensuring that the bus arrives on time more often, according to a report prepared last year by Metro staffers. Before the agency instituted an all-door boarding system on the Silver Line in 2016, the bus arrived late at stops 31 percent of the time. Now, that’s been cut to 19 percent.

A separate Metro report shows that, on average, trips on the Silver Line were also a little more than 2 minutes faster after the addition of all-door boarding.

That helps to compensate for systemwide slowdowns in service that have plagued Metro’s bus system and driven up the agency’s operating costs in recent years.

All-door boarding has also been rolled out on two other Metro bus lines so far: The rapid Silver Line, which runs between Downtown LA and San Pedro; and the 754, which runs most of the length of Vermont Avenue.

Metro staff studied all-door boarding on several other busy lines, but found that most did not have as many high-volume stops, when large numbers of riders get on and off at once. Other lines, staffers found, had a large number of stops located in front of a traffic signal, making it easy for buses to get stuck at red lights after efficiently on-boarding new passengers.

The three lines where all-door boarding will now be possible are some of the most widely ridden in Metro’s bus network. The 720, serves the most passengers of the three, with more than 27,000 daily boardings. Improving efficiency here could make it easier for commuters to connect up with other buses and trains along the route.

To further minimize delays, riders under the new system must pay fares using TAP cards, rather than cash or fare tokens. At the front of the bus, passengers can buy new TAP cards or use cash to reload them.

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