Muni all-door boarding bows Sunday

For once, people are buzzing about Muni for positive reasons.

Starting Sunday, passengers will be able to employ backdoor boarding on all Muni vehicles provided they have a valid Clipper card or transfer.

The plan, approved in May, makes Muni the first transit system in the United States to allow backdoor boarding on all light rail trains and buses systemwide.

Allowing passengers to get on from the back will reduce boarding times, improve arrival times and generate more revenue, said Muni spokesman Paul Rose.

The National Transit Database pegs Muni with more boardings per hour than other transit systems, with an average of 65 boardings per hour compared to 62 in New York and 52 in Honolulu.

Muni finally decided to adopt an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach, as officials noticed that passengers were boarding from the back anyway — whether they paid or not.

To stop people from abusing the new system, more fare inspectors are expected to be employed in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 fiscal year.

This plan is costing the agency $900,000 to implement — some of which could be recouped by an anticipated $200,000 extra in fare citations the new workers will rake in.

An increase of about $4 million in fare revenue is also anticipated from new ridership and less fare dodging.

During these early stages, data is being collected to assess what needs to be done to improve this process during the busiest of hours.

The San Francisco Transit Riders Union, a grassroots organization to improve public transit, has been pushing for all-door boarding for a while. The group is pleased with the change, Mario Tanev, a member of the union, told SF Public Press:

“We believe that it will improve reliability of service, make trips faster, reduce overcrowding and save Muni money that can be reinvested into more and better service.”

The Transit Effectiveness Project is going to accompany the backdoor boarding policy in 2013, according to Muni officials. The project aims to overhaul some of the transit agency’s busiest lines.

Both plans seek to bring Muni up to its own goal of 85 percent on-time arrivals.