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At major suburban park and ride stops, tens of commuters gather at a time to board express buses to the Seattle CBD. Currently all passengers must board at the front of the bus to pay a fare or flash a badge, an extremely slow process, especially when there are many commuters who need to pay with cash. All-door boarding would help speed the process and thus cut down on delay. All-door boarding could be accomplished with off-board fare payment, achieveable with installation of ORCA readers and/or ticket vending machines at major stops. Fare payment would happen before boarding the bus so as to not delay the bus when it arrives and passengers begin to board, resulting in a faster trip for customers on a bus route with higher frequencies or that is operated at a lower cost to the transit agency. Fare validation can take place on board the bus; peak hour express buses usually have a long no stop portion between the suburbs and the city center, a perfect time for a single fare enforcer to validate fares on the bus much in the same way as RapidRide.

Thoughts? Feedback?

9 Replies to “Off-board fare payment concept for busy suburban bus stops”

  1. The idea of a single fare enforcement officer that rides from the suburban stop to a far away stop doesn’t sound very efficient. Because the distance that that FEO has to ride is quite long, the cost of the FEO would be very high and productivity would likely be very low. It would also require that every rider who pays cash would have to be given a transfer for proof of payment. At locations where more than “tens of commuters” really do line up for bus loading, it might be better to assign peak hour rear door loaders–like we see in the DSTT during the PM peak–to speed up boarding. One loader could work a series of buses more effectively than FEOs making random checks on the trip to downtown.

    1. There’s the additional problem that the fare enforcement officer would then have to travel back on a reverse-direction bus in order to fare-check another trip. If the service no reverse-direction service exists on the corridor, now you need yet another person to drive the FEO back to the suburban bus stop in a car.

      There’s also the problem of what to do about cash payers running to catch the bus. Making them watch it go by and wait for the next one while they fiddle with the machine sounds awful draconian.

      I have to agree that hiring peak-of-the-peak rear-door loaders is a much better option.

  2. The single rear door loader is a really great idea while being more quickly implementable and possibly cheaper than setting up an ORCA reader and/or TVM. I have no real evidence other than my own observations to support implementing off-board fare payment of any sort at busy park and rides.

    As for the proof of payment concern, I suggested installation of TVMs at such busy stations in one of the callouts in the mockup above. For normal stops, is it really such a big deal to hand out transfers to all cash paying passengers since they are already taking the time to pay cash? Don’t drivers already have to do this for cash payers on RapidRide?

  3. Guy,

    Just make the “rear door loader” into a fare inspector who stays on the platform and you’ve accomplished the same thing. Anyone who sets foot on the platform gets fare-checked.

    If this were done and the tunnel were made Park-N-Ride expresses only, the tunnel could go to all-door service. Have fare checkers at the bottom of the escalators to the platform.

    Sort of a walking turnstile.

    1. You’d have to somehow deal with the issue of different fares for different routes. And it would mess up fare revenue allocation between buses and trains.

      1. I don’t know how to resolve the variable fare issue, but you still have auto passenger counting data to to set things straight for revenue allocation, though fusing the counting data with the loader information and then parsing through it may add more complication than it’s worth.

  4. Why not create a gated area, with a turnstyle? There is an upfront cost, but it could serve multiple buses. You hire one security guard, who spends a bit of time on gate jumpers, but also walks around the area, patrolling the parking lot (which has been a problem with park and rides). I really don’t think you would get many people evading the fare (not nearly as many as you do with transfers).

    Also, I would use the term “dozens”, not “tens”.

    1. I don’t know how much more effective it would be than having someone standing at the curb next to where the rear door of buses pull up with an ORCA reader who also checks tickets/transfers. I’d sooner start installing turnstiles/gates at Link stations where access is already (fortunately/unfortunately) restricted to 1 or 2 entrances and where it would be used more than a couple hours each day.

      You’re right; dozens does roll off the tongue/brain better.

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