NYPIRG STRAPHANGERS CAMPAIGN • TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES
|Embargoed for Release: |
December 15, 2015, 10:30 a.m.
|For More Information Contact:
Gene Russianoff (917) 575-9434
Paul Steely White (646) 247-6734
M66 Wins Pokey Award For Slowest Bus; Crawls at Abysmal Speed of 3.1 MPH
Slower Than a Turtle, And That's a Glacial 4 MPH!
Schleppie Award Goes to ... Its a Tie! M1 and M101/102/103
Arrive Bunched Together or With Major Gaps In Service 37% of the Time
68% Increase in Number of Unreliable Bus Routes In Last Year;
19 Routes Given a Schleppie in 2014 Jumps to 32 Schleppie Awards in 2015
New York, New York The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives today gave out two awards highlighting poor bus service in New York City.
The first is the fourteenth-annual Pokey for slowest local bus route in New York City.
The uncoveted Pokey award is a golden snail on a pedestal. The award is based on the speed of rides recorded by Straphangers Campaign staff and volunteers on 35 routes. Lines were selected because they had high ridership or were historically slow Manhattan crosstown routes. (See methodology.)
The winner of the 2015 Pokey is... the M66 crosstown. It had the slowest bus speed out of the 35 lines surveyed by the Straphangers Campaign, clocked at an excruciating 3.1 miles per hour at 12 noon on a weekday.
Turtles move up to 4 MPH in contrast to the observed 3.1 MPH speed for the M66, the groups noted.1
In the classic fable, the tortoise (an even slower relative of the turtle) beats the hare, spawning the moral: slow and steady wins the race, said Straphangers Campaign Attorney Gene Russianoff. But add the M66, and that crosstown bus comes in behind both the turtle and the hare. Bus riders are painfully familiar with a different moral: crawl in traffic, end up in last place.
In 2014, the M66 moved 12,449 riders on an average weekday and ranked 58th in riders out of 182 New York City Transit local bus routes. The M66 travels crosstown on 65th through 68th Streets between West End and York Avenues.2
According to the groups, the slowest bus routes in each borough are:
|B35||5.8 mph||btwn Sunset Park and Brownsville, Brooklyn|
|Bx2||4.8 mph||btwn Kingsbridge and Mott Haven, Bronx|
|M66||3.1 mph||Crosstown on 65-68th Streets, Manhattan|
|Q58||7.0 mph||btwn Ridgewood, Queens and Flushing Main Street|
|S48/98||8.2 mph||btwn Mariners Harbor and St. George Ferry, Staten Island|
In the 2002 Pokey Awards, the groups found that the citys 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, the M42 in 2009 and 2010, the M50 in 2011, the M42 tied the M66 in 2012, the M42 and M50 tied in 2013 and the M79 won in 2014.
The groups cautioned that comparisons with past Pokey Award 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.)
In this survey, the total number or routes observed was 40. Five routes were dropped because of construction on them during the survey period,3 three of which are in the midst of significant upgrades as part of the Select Bus Service program.4 As a result, we included 35 bus routes in this report.
New Yorkers know from bitter daily experience that bus service is slow and unreliable. But there is real hope for dramatic improvement for better local bus service by using techniques pioneered for Select Bus Service. City traffic and transit officials should closely study which of the SBS features could be applied to all local bus service.
Select Bus Service has features that provide faster service, such as collecting fares before boarding buses; buses with three doors and low floors to speed up boarding and alighting; reconfiguring bus stops and bus lanes to reduce conflicts with other traffic; wider subway-style spacing between stops; and enforcement of bus lanes by camera to keep the lanes moving.5
The second award is the tenth-annual Schleppie for the citys least reliable bus routes and is based on official transit statistics, which measure how well buses keep to scheduled intervals. The Schleppie is comprised of golden lumbering elephants on a pedestal.
The winner of the 2015 Schleppie is ... a tie! The 2015 Schleppie goes to the M1 and the combined M101/102/103, both with a dismal 37 percent of buses arriving with big gaps in service or bunched together.
New York City Transit calculates wait assessments for 42 high-volume routes, the same routes first chosen by Transit two decades ago. 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.6,7
In the realm of unreliable bus service, the M1 is the king, and the local M101/102/103 is the queen,ĺ─¨ said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. ĺ─˙Their unhappy subjects, the riders, must endure the tyranny of frequent and long waits, followed by a parade of buses that pass by in bunches, like a herd of lumbering elephants..
The number of bus routes awarded Schleppies increased a worrisome 68 percent in the last year, jumping from 19 Schleppie routes in 2014 to 32 Schleppie routes in 2015. Schleppies go to any route with an average wait assessment greater than 20% of buses arriving with big gaps in service or bunched together.
Transit officials found a statically significant worsening in wait assessment during the first six months of 2015.8
The groups called on the MTA to analyze the causes and possible cures for declining wait assessment. They noted that MTA officials have repeatedly praised wait assessment as better reflecting the experience of customers, while denigrating other performance measures as weak indicators of service, such as on-time performance.
The M1 goes from the East Village to Harlem along Fifth and Madison Avenues. The route moved 12,210 riders on an average weekday in 2014 and was ranked 61st in bus ridership in the city out of 182 local routes operated by New York City Transit. (Another 47 local bus routes are operated largely in Queens and Brooklyn by the MTA Bus Company, but are not in the 42 high-volume routes.)
The M101, M102, and M103 go from Lower to Upper Manhattan along Third, Lexington, Lenox and Amsterdam Avenues. The routes moved a combined 52,311 riders on an average weekday in 2014.
The most unreliable bus routes in each borough with over 20% of buses bunched together or big gaps in service are:
|B15||26.7% unreliable btwn Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and JFK Airport|
|Bx55||28.3% unreliable btwn Fordham Plaza, Bronx and Harlem, Manhattan|
|M1||37% unreliable btwn East Village and Harlem, Manhatan|
|M101/2/3||37% unreliable btwn Lower Manhattan and Upper Manhattan|
|Q43||22.2% unreliable btwn Floral Park and Jamaica, Queens|
|S78||26.8% unreliable btwn St. George and Bricktown Mall, Staten Island|
The Schleppie went to the M1 in both 2006 and 2007, to the M101/2/3 in 2008, the B44 in 2009, the Bx41 in 2010, the M101/2/3 in 2011, the M4 in 2012, again to the M101/2/3 in 2013 and to the M15 in 2014. Transits methodology for calculating this measure was changed in 2008. But it has not changed since then and comparisons of wait assessments used to award a Schleppie is appropriate.
1 Retrieved from http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/RachelShweky.shtml.
2 Retrieved from http://web.mta.info/nyct/facts/ridership/ridership_bus.htm.
3 According to NYC DOT and supported by our own observation, the M34 SBS and M34a SBS are in the midst of a long-term capital construction project on the eastern portion of the route. The M15 and M15 SBS also travel a portion of Second Avenue and were subsequently dropped from the survey. Retrieved from http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/html/routes/34th-street.shtml#updates.
4 The M86 was dropped as it underwent an upgrade from local to Select Bus Service during the survey period. See http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/html/routes/86th-street.shtml.
5 Looking at two SBS buses that can be fairly compared to local service on that route, we found:
• SBS on the Bx12 increased bus speeds by 25 percent the Bx12 local. The Bx12 local was clocked by our surveyors at 8.3 MPH. But the Bx12 SBS traveled at 10.4 MPH - 25 percent faster than the Bx12 local.
• SBS on the Bx41 increased bus speeds by 19 percent over the Bx41 local. The Bx41 local was clocked by our surveyors at 7.4 MPH. But the Bx41 SBS traveled at 8.8 MPH, 19 percent faster than the Bx41 local.
6 MTA NYC Transit uses a measure of reliability known as wait assessment. It is measured weekdays between 7 a.m. and midnight. It is defined as the percentage of observed service intervals that are no more than the scheduled interval plus 3 minutes during the peak (7 a.m. to 9 a.m., 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and plus 5 during off-peak (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 7 p.m. to 12 p.m.) The results are presented for a sample of 42 high-volume routes. The most recent WA statistics can be found in the MTA New York City Transit Committee Agenda from September 2015 on pages 282-285. Retrieved from http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/pdf/150921_1000_transit-bus.pdf.
7 NYCT reported wait assessments for the M15 and M15 SBS in the September NYCT Committee Agenda, so we have reported them here, though the routes were removed from consideration for this years Pokey Award due to construction overlap with the M34a SBS.
8 New York City Transit Committee Agenda, September 21, 2015, page 282: http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/pdf/150921_1000_transit-bus.pdf.