When Metro’s 7pm back-door policy went away, it roused many a cheer among the pro-transit community, which has long advocated for the efficiency and safety of two-door operation. Not only did the rule disappear from the Metro operator handbook, but the webpage for instructing beginning riders even states that “passengers are permitted to exit via the rear door at all times except in the Ride Free Area between 7 p.m. – 6 a.m…”
While many of us believed that the policy was officially rescinded, I was surprised to learn that that is technically not the case, according to a tweet from Metro, stating that back-door exit after 7pm is now at the driver’s discretion:
@kilodelta It's not rescinded. It's now up to driver's judgment.
— King County Metro (@kcmetrobus) July 7, 2012
If the official policy is wish-washy enough to be determined at an operator’s whim, I think it sets annoyingly bad precedent for operations policy in general. If customers are taught and permitted to use the rear door after 7pm and then told otherwise when trying to do so, it not only undermines Metro’s relations with the public, but it also makes the bus-riding experience unreliable and unpredictable.
It’s a travesty there can’t be stronger consistency in the system with a rule as basic as the 7pm one. Not only do riders want to be assured that they can consistently use the same door over and over again, the very tenets of Metro’s new service guidelines also call for maximizing operational efficiency, something that can be achieved if every operator adheres to the same rules.