NYPIRG STRAPHANGERS CAMPAIGN • TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES
|Embargoed for Release:
Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 10:30 a.m.
|For More Information Contact:
Gene Russianoff (917) 575-9434
Paul Steely White (646) 247-6734
“Pokey” Award Goes to M42, City’s Slowest Bus Clocked at 3.6 MPH;
As Slow As Walking
“Schleppie” Award Goes to Bx41, City’s Least Reliable Bus
Number of Unreliable Buses More Than Doubles;
From 4 in 2009 to 11 in 2010, Out of 42 Surveyed by MTA
Good News: “Select Bus Service” on Bx12
Almost 25% Faster Than Local
New York, New York — The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives
today gave out two awards for poor bus service in New York City.
The first is the ninth-annual “Pokey” for slowest local bus route in New York City. The
uncoveted Pokey award is a golden snail on a pedestal. It’s based on actual rides taken by
Straphangers Campaign staff and volunteers on 29 bus routes. These lines were selected either because: 1) they had high ridership; or 2) the bus was an historically slow Manhattan crosstown route. (See methodology.)
The “winner” of the 2010 Pokey is … the M42, which had the slowest bus speed at 3.6 miles per hour as clocked at 12 noon on a weekday. It also “won” in 2009. (The route was shortened in June 2010, terminating at 42nd Street and 12th Avenue. It no longer goes down 12th Avenue to Javits Center at 34th Street. We surveyed the route in August after the change was made.)
“Many city buses travel in excruciating slow motion,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign. Russianoff noted that for some routes, the pace is not much faster than a young person walking, which averages about 3.6 miles per hour.
The M42 moves 12,847 riders on an average weekday and ranks 79th in riders out of the 194
local bus routes. According to the groups, the slowest bus routes in each borough are:
|B35||5.4 mph||Between Sunset Park and Brownsville|
|Bx19||5.1 mph||Between Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Harlem|
|M42||3.6 mph||Crosstown on 42nd Street in Manhattan|
|Q58||6.6 mph||Between Ridgewood, Queens, and Flushing/Main Street|
|S48||8.2 mph||Between Richmond Terrace and St. George Ferry Terminal, Staten Island|
The second award is the fifth-annual “Schleppie” for the city’s least reliable buses and is
based on official transit statistics. The Schleppie is comprised of golden lumbering elephants on a
The “winner” of the 2010 Schleppie is … the Bx41, which runs on White Plains Road and Webster Avenue between the Wakefield and the Hub in the Bronx.* The route moves 27,383 riders on an average weekday and has the fifteenth-highest bus ridership in the city.
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|
“The next generation of buses is making inroads in New York City — Select Bus Service can cut travel time for riders,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “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.”
Bus Rapid Transit has brought better transit to many cities around the globe. A limited version known as “Select Bus Service” (SBS) is being tested here. The first two SBS routes have started, one on Pelham Parkway and Fordham Road in the Bronx (Bx12) and another on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan (M15). Several SBS features are also being used on the M34 crosstown route. Additional SBS routes are planned for Nostrand Avenue (B44) and Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island.
White noted that the groups found Select Bus Service on the Bx12 increased bus speeds by nearly 25 percent over the Bx12 local. The Bx12 local was clocked by our surveyors at 6.9 mph. But the Bx12 SBS traveled at 8.6 mph, nearly 25 percent faster than the Bx12 local.
The groups did not feel it was timely to survey the speed of the M15 local bus or the M15 SBS , which only began service in early October.
Among bus speed improvement strategies now being tested in Phase One on the M15 SBS are:
In Phase Two next year, features to be added to M15 SBS are:
In the 2002 Pokey Awards, the groups found that the city’s slowest bus route was the M96.
In 2003, the groups awarded the Pokey to the M23, in 2004 and 2005 to the M34, in 2006 to the
M14A, in 2007 to the M23, the M96 in 2008 and the M42 in 2009.
The groups cautioned that comparisons with past findings were difficult due to changes in
methodology and bus routes over the years. In addition, changes in bus speeds since 2004 have generally been too small to demonstrate significant trends. (See methodology.)
The criteria for selecting buses to be evaluated for speed changed in this survey.
Between 2005 and 2009, bus routes to be surveyed were selected based on New York City Transit data. Specifically, we surveyed the ten slowest routes (all in Manhattan), as determined by Transit in bus profiles compiled in 2000. We also surveyed the three slowest routes in the other boroughs.
In this survey, the number of routes surveyed increased from 23 to 29. Eleven routes were dropped, while 17 new routes were added based on high ridership. Additionally, most of the crosstown routes between 14th Street and 96th street were surveyed.
Schleppies went to any route with an average unreliability greater than 20%. This determination is based on official “wait assessments” for “42 high-volume routes,” chosen by Transit. Wait assessment measures how closely a line sticks to scheduled intervals for arrival. Wait assessment becomes poorer the more buses arrive in bunches or with major gaps in service.
The Schleppie went to the M1 in both 2006 and 2007, to the M101/102/103 in 2008 and the B44 in 2009. Transit’s methodology for calculating this measure was changed in 2008. (See methodology.)
StreetFilms has created a video about New York Citys slow and unreliable buses. Please visit www.streetfilms.org to view the film.
* The Bx41 was restructured in June 2010 to terminate at Gun Hill Road in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx rather than in Wakefield.