Straphangers: Walking is faster than the M50By
If you’re trying to get across town in a hurry, you’re better off walking than taking the M50, according to the Straphangers Campaign. The transit riders advocacy group released its latest Pokey and Schleppy Awards this morning, and Manhattan’s M50 which runs crosstown on 49th and 50th Sts. was found to be the slowest with speeds of just 3.5 mph at noon on a weekday.
“You can push a lawnmower faster crosstown than it takes the M50 to go from 1st to 12th Avenue,” Straphangers attorney Gene Russianoff said at a press conference this morning.
It seems as well that riders are aware of the M50′s slow speeds. In 2010, the bus ranked 151st in ridership out of 191 local routes. Only 3905 riders per weekday board the slow-moving crosstown route. Anyone else heading east to west could hop the E or M trains via the 53rd St. tunnel or simply power themselves with their own two feet.
In addition to saluting the M50, the Straphangers also recognized the slowest routes in other boroughs as well. In Brooklyn, the B41 which travels via Flatbush Ave. between Kings Plaza and Downtown Brooklyn took home the prize. I’ve always believed Flatbush ripe for BRT-like improvements. In the Bronx, the Bx19 averaged 5.0 mph while the Q58 into Flushing was Queens’ slowest. The S48 earned recognition for its speeds along Staten Island but at an average of 8.8 mph, that’s one bus route that’s downright speedy.
In addition to honoring the city’s slowest buses, the Straphangers doled out the Schleppy award for the least reliable bus. Unfortunately, they couldn’t give the award to the entire bus network. So the M101/102/103 routes that run along Lexington and Third Avenues took home the joint prize. These buses — some of the busiest in the city — suffer from missed schedules and excessive bunching.
It wasn’t all bad news for buses though as the Straphangers declared that Select Bus Service was living up to its promises. They fond increases in travel speed of asmuch as 50 percent along both the Bx12 and M15 SBS corridors. It is promising then that two bus routes named least reliable in the city by the Straphangers — the B44 in Brooklyn and the S78 along Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island — will soon see their own Select Bus routes.
Of course, as I’ve noted recently, theses slow speeds and unreliable service levels are just one of the problems facing the buses. Ridership along local routes has been on a steady decline as the MTA has cut service levels over the past few years. Outside of the SBS routes, there is no indication that bus service will be getting better any time soon, and transit advocates seem to recognize that reality. “This year’s Pokey goes to yet another sad example of our underfunded transit system,” Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, said. “The M50 might be slow but the bus system itself is racing toward catastrophe at full speed. New Yorkers deserve better.”