Every year, the Straphangers Campaign goes through the pomp and circumstance of their Schleppie and Pokey Awards, and every year the outcome is the same. Some crosstown Manhattan bus is the slowest, and some north-south route is usually the least reliable. This year was no different as the M66 and M42 shared the Schleppie Award, and the M4 took home the Pokey.
The Straphangers’ report — full findings here — says that the two crosstown buses average around 3.9 miles per hour during their 12 noon runs. I’d imagine that time is even slower during rush hour when 42nd St. grows congested. “The M66 and M42 would lose a race to an amusement park bumper car,” Straphangers head Gene Russianoff said, “and be a lot less fun. A bumper car can go 4.3 miles per hour compared to the 3.9 miles of the Pokey Award winning buses.” The M4, meanwhile, suffered the most from problematic bus bunching and scheduling inaccuracies.
Of course, knowing that the buses are slow and unreliable is half the battle and barely news. While nodding at the city’s Select Bus Service as a clear sign of improvement, the Straphangers and Transportation Alternatives called for “investment,” but what kind of investment? The city should devote dedicated street space to buses, implement pre-board fare payment at most major routes and develop signal prioritization. Only then will buses begin to move faster than a healthy young adult can walk across town.