Oh, the New York City buses. They’re great for getting around the city unless you’re actually trying to get somewhere fast. Today, the Straphangers Campaign, the public transportation riders advocacy group, reinforced that age-old New York stereotype in awarding its annual Pokey and Schleppie Awards.
This year, the M23 took home the Golden Snail, the award for the slowest local bus route in New York. The M23, according to Straphangers, averages about 4.0 miles per hour as clocked at noon on a weekday. That’s not much faster than walking, as the East Village Idiot pointed out when his M14 took home the Snail last year.
New for 2007 is the Golden Schleppie award. This one goes to the least reliable bus as based on official transit stats and looks like a parade of elephants. The M1, one of the various buses that head up an down the East Side, took home the inaugural trophy. According to the Campaign, nearly one in three M1 buses have gaps in service or are off schedule.
Of course, the M23 and M1 aren’t alone in providing painfully slow and staggered service. As the Straphangers Campaign noted, numerous crosstown buses in Manhattan seem to crawl across the city, and bus service overall in the city suffers from oppressive traffic numbers and few dedicated bus lanes.
Now, after the Straphangers issued their findings today, the MTA reminded us of a few key initiatives aimed at speeding up bus service. Because bus service is so dependent on surface travel conditions, it’s tough for the MTA to push out 100 percent accurate schedules, but the Authority is trying to work with the Department of Transportation to make travel easier:
NYC Transit is working closely with the NYC Department of Transportation to improve bus service for the city’s 2.5 million daily bus customers. The joint initiatives include signal light prioritization, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the identification of traffic congestion “hot spots,” where effective strategies can be developed in cooperation with NYCDOT to increase the speed of bus service operating through those areas.
I wrote about these BRT lanes in July, and my feelings still hold today. If the MTA is going to improve bus service through the use of BRT lanes in the city, they will have to ramp up traffic enforcement measures.
How many times are buses delayed because cars are double-parking in bus stops or in the right line? How many cars have opted to ignore laws surrounding the new bicycle lanes popping up on streets across the city? The answers, in both cases, are too many to count.
Buses equipped with the equivalent of red light cameras and more patrol cars looking out for BRT violations is a good place to start. But until buses are afforded the space on the road that they deserve, the Straphangers Campaign will continue to have Pokeys and Schleppies to dole out to motionless buses.