20 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: All-Door Boarding Challenge”

  1. Ooookay! No mystery that the more doors there are to board at, the faster the boarding. Which also shows advantage of off-board fare purchase. Also not shown are the fare readers now carried at every door by every vehicle in the San Francisco MUNI fleet.

    Seem to remember that King County Council once had the money budgeted for that, but changed their minds. Or did they leave it in the bank and forget about it? Somebody go check. New York footage says it all, about New York. Something about fewer people using transit there…….anybody read that somewhere?
    And here I keep saying that cities work best when people pronounce “stupid” with a double “o” for a “u”.
    Go figure! (Yeah, but where?)

    The MUNI driver did something showing two defects that Tunnel ops never cured for Metro. Held rear door open for a running passenger. And was still in the zone when another passenger touched the door, which didn’t open. Shut doors should open next stop. Driver or signal control, transit should control departure. And headways should be short enough that passenger left standing gets to be first on next bus.

    But there is one statistic that everybody responsible for transit should know in their sleep: What is the cost of one minute of a bus standing still when it should be moving? Because this is the Gold- I mean plastic standard for every single design decision in the system.

    Only fare question will soon be: Which gives system more money, off-board fare collection or fare already paid for in taxes? Open thread, somebody. Great start for first of the next fifty-two weeks per year. Amount of one minute of lost operating time should be flashing on the screen while the winning contestant picks up their Cuisinart.


    1. In 2017, Metro’s operating cost was $151.33 per vehicle hour.**

      So that means it costs $2.52 per minute (or 4.2¢ per second) to operate a bus.

      That is also a decent, rough estimate of the cost for each minute (or second) of delay.


  2. The busses are using vastly different boarding styles in addition to the multiple doors, skewing the data. The “single line” method shown in the second boarding (and popular here) is always going to be significantly slower than the “cluster boarding” of the first. It is like using a funnel vs. a straw. Cluster boarding also allows for better priority seating for the elderly and disabled, as they can access the front of the pack as opposed to hoping and praying in a 1 dimensional access method.

    While I think multidoor boarding is indeed faster, please give me less slanted “evidence” in any attempt to prove it.

    1. But all door boarding is what enables cluster boarding. That is really the point. It is easy to think that it doesn’t make a difference, but if you open up all the doors and allow people to the one they choose, then people board a lot faster.

      1. Exactly. That plus the fact that the back door in the Muni vehicle is double width so that two people can at least theoretically enter simultaneously.

        Glenn, Didn’t you mean “fuster”?

    2. Since so many vehicles have on-board cameras, should be no problem to see the evidence. Enough times to be sure there’s no mistake. Or, if count has to be officially in person, the company could hire a consulting firm to collect on-the-spot data. Only this time without the contract language mandating a finding that onboard fare collection does not slow DSTT operations.

      My question would be: “What evidence will somebody need to contradict above counts?” Hate to say it, but completely believe that right now, on-the-spot, repetition- verified, multiple source evidence is by that name is so “slanted” that the word itself requires quotation marks. Already standard addition to the e-word before “Climate” and after “Change.”

      But also “significant” is the veracity of “truth” discovered by the former Mayor of the city whose buses take a whole baseball season to load. Well, “He” “Oughtta” “Know!”


  3. In Portland, the seat assignment process for Amtrak Cascades trains is now happening at the ticket window.

    1. A major advance in Seat Assignment Technology. And I’m so glad that Amtrak is at the front of the line on this one. Who knew that you could actually assign seats? It’s so impressive that Amtrak managed to work this out. I mean…there are x number of cars, with x number of seats. The seats even have numbers! Wow. Then you have to figure out how many passengers you have. I think this can be done by counting the reservations. Then you could actually place those people in the seats that you know are available. I know this is crazy talk. Even crazier would be the idea that when you book online you could actually chose your seat from the ones that are available…nah…that’s toooo crazy. You’d need to be an airline to do that.

      Even Bolt Bus gives the option of A, B or C priority. They board a bus faster than Amtrak can board a train. If they don’t think Bolt is competition then they are not paying attention. I use both and it’s a mixed bag but if Amtrak simply had seat assignments at purchase it would close the deal for me. Normally I’m on Amtrak’s side on most things but this is the single, most aggravating thing about taking the Cascades, the stupid standing in line for a seat I’ve already purchased. Are they totally oblivious to the rest of the travel world?

      Anyway, I love standing in two lines, the first to get a seat assignment, the second to board. It gets me up and personal with Amtrak. And I love the way it forces me to get to the station 45 minutes before I need to. That way I know I won’t be late to get my seat assignment.

      I’m 50/50 Bolt and Amtrak but I’d be 100% Amtrak if they had seat assignments and got rid of the stupid line to get a seat. They just don’t seem to listen though so I’ll make my decisions accordingly.

      1. There still is a problem with Amtrak seat assignments. Not all the trains have an identical seat layout. On my last trip from PDX I was given a seat assignment at the window but when I got to the car the seat didn’t exist. Fortunately the conductor just said “sit wherever you want”.

        Within the 6 existing trainsets I think there are 3 different seat layouts and if Cascades adds the Wisconsin trains, there will be 4.

      2. A free for all where they just let everyone on the platform and let everyone sit wherever they could find a seat would work way better than this current self imposed absurdity.

      3. You don’t *have* to be at the station 45 minutes ahead of time. Officially speaking it’s 10 minutes before departure. I’ve been later than that and still gotten on.

        You only have to do the 45 minute thing if you want to request a specific seat.

      4. Assigning seats for buses and airplanes can make one simple assumption – the direction of travel for the equipment.

        If you want the ‘left’ side, for whatever reason, such as view, you know which end is the front.

        Railroad cars don’t care which way they are going.

        Seat assignments electronically, will, and should be only value added.

        I.e. tables, business class on the Cascades.

        Open seating on the rest of the train would work, if every platform in the Cascades corridor were level, or small step boarding.

        Hence why the train crews try to place passengers based on destination.

        It’s not that it’s technically impossible, it’s a matter of which IT expense gives the best payback.

    2. “A major advance in Seat Assignment Technology.”

      Not if you’re waiting behind people who are taking a long time to buy tickets.

  4. “Moving forward, I am eager to hear from businesses and community members about this project.” Supporters and opponents alike should take her up on the offer by calling (206) 684-4000 (although, as of late Friday night, her office voice mailbox was full) or emailing her at jenny.durkan@seattle.gov.”

    I was very glad to finally read this. I had a feeling that the Mayor had to deal with something seriously out of order before she could speak with the public as would have been normal for the beginning of her term. Now have a feeling that’s an understatement.

    I’m thinking that the communications problem had less to do with transit directly than with City Government in general. Whatever is the matter there, I’m glad I’m not the one that has to deal with it.

    I’m thinking very hard about what I’m going to tell the Mayor. But not only have I never met her, but I’m suddenly realizing that the officials I used to be on such good speaking terms with are no longer in office. Does anybody reading this know Mayor Durkan well enough personally to tell me what a stranger with some public transit experience could expect in a friendly conversation with her?

    Any help appreciated.


    1. Number 1 is, “Don’t tell her you live in Olympia. Mention Ballard in a kind of mumble.”

      1. Wonder if Mark could team up with another STB regular with a Seattle single family home with room for a DADU. Go as pair to council members and the mayor explaining that we’re on a mission to bring back an honorable ex metro driver and Seattle back from rent induced exile

  5. One change in my lifetime affecting both boarding and fare payment: Conductors. Might be time to “do the numbers” and see if the loss of them hasn’t cost more money than keeping them would have.

    Using my own gold standard of a minute’s lost operating time, might want to check one more time about the rest of what this crew-member did in addition to collecting money and punching tickets.


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