The M42’s slow trek across townBy
If you’re trying to get across 42nd St. in a hurry and the M42 is on the horizon, you’re better off walking. At least that’s the message the Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives had for the city’s transit riders as they unveiled the annual Pokey and Schleppie Awards for the New York’s bus routes today.
Maintaining an average rate of just 3.6 miles per hour during the noontime run, the M42 captured the Pokey Award, the Straphangers’ recognition for the system’s slowest bus. It is the second consecutive year this midtown route has taken home the trophy. For anyone young enough and healthy enough, it is indeed possible to cross Manhattan on foot faster than the M42 covers it on wheels.
The Straphangers and TA also unveiled the slowest routes in the other four boroughs as well. Taking home the honors were the B35, the Bx19, the Q58 and S42. Still, none of those buses can hold a candle to the M42. Each maintains speeds above 5 mph, and the S42’s 8.2 mph velocity might be slow for Staten Island but would be considered speedy along the streets of Manhattan.
As for the Schleppie, a nod for the system’s “least reliable” bus, the Bx41, the system’s 15th most popular bus route, took home the award. The Straphangers had more on the unreliable local buses:
Almost one in four Bx41 buses — 23.5% — arrived bunched together or came with big gaps in service during the first half of 2010. Last year’s “winner” with the worst reliability was the B44, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
The groups noted, however, that the number of unreliable buses had more than doubled in the past year. MTA New York City Transit measures a “borough-representative sample of 42 high-volume bus routes” for unreliability. In the first half of 2009, the groups found four routes out of those 42 had more than one in five buses arriving off schedule. However, that has grown to 11 routes in the first half of 2010.
The most unreliable bus routes in each of four boroughs with over 20% of buses bunched together or big gaps in service are:
- B44: 21.7% unreliable btw Sheepshead Bay and Williamsburg on Nostrand Avenue
- Bx41: 23.5% unreliable btw Wakefield and The Hub on White Plains Rd/Webster Ave
- M101/2/3: 22.3% unreliable btw Upper and Lower Manhattan on 3rd and Lexington Avenues
- S78: 21.8% unreliable btw St. George Ferry and Tottenville on Hylan Boulevard
While local buses remain among the worst forms of surface transportation in the city, TA and the Straphangers acknowledged the MTA’s Select Bus Service plan. It’s taken a painfully long time to get Select Bus routes off the ground, but riders are noticing improvements.
“The next generation of buses is making inroads in New York City — Select Bus Service can cut travel time for riders,” Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said. “Where these fast buses have been tried in the Bronx, travel times dropped at least 20 percent. Similar improvements were recently installed on Manhattan’s East Side. Rather than pokey and schleppie buses, New Yorkers deserve quick and efficient bus service. We are encouraged by the city’s willingness to make New York’s buses work better.”
Eventually, as the MTA replaces the MetroCard with a contactless payment technology, bus load times will improve, and bus speeds should improve. Still, though, bus stops are much too close together, and the lack of lane and signal priority means that buses will forever be at the whims of surface conditions. Until bus routes are cleared, pokey and schleppy will be a perfectly adequate description of New York City bus service.
For more on the awards and the Straphanger’s methodology, check out their press release. After the jump, a vide on the awards from Streetsfilms.