No Joke: New York Transit Riders Need Separated Bus Lanes

It’s sad because it’s true.

When comedian Mark Malkoff set out to generate some publicity by racing the M42 on a child’s tricycle — and winning — he illustrated nicely the frustration and indignity endured by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every day.

In his smartly-produced video, you can see that, unlike a bus, Malkoff was easily able to pass stopped cabs and vehicles parked in the bus lane. And though Malkoff reportedly obeyed traffic signals, he of course didn’t need to stop for passengers. Regardless, it’s a sad comment on the state of transit service when it can be outperformed by most any other mode.

Sure, it’s a cute stunt, and notoriously slow buses are a ready-made punchline (“Take that, MTA!”). But the real joke is on New York transit riders, pranked not by the MTA, but by the NIMBYs and skyscraper moguls on 34th Street who just derailed their best chance to see how efficient crosstown bus service can be.

Think a Big Wheel would fare as well in Mexico City?

  • Driver

    I would like to know how much of that time was actual driving, and how much was picking up/discharging passengers. An average of 3.9 mph doesn’t mean much when it includes loading times, which are not attributable to traffic.

  • Thanks NY Post for spending weeks railing against the NYC DOT’s proposed changes to 34th Street corridor. That really helped, we would have been on our way to much better bus service. Now….

  • Danny G

    You are right that pickup & dropoff time is not attributable to traffic. But if it negatively affects the time it takes you to get from Point A to Point B via the bus, then it should be on the table as something to be improved.

  • Driver

    Agreed Danny, but it is meaningless to time a bus trip that spends a significant amount of time picking up/discharging against a mode of transportation that does not have to stop for that purpose.
    As far as improvement, the prepayment system that is currently being implemented on SBS lines should be expanded to all bus lines. Improved travel times can be achieved, even without dedicated bus lanes.

  • VERY appropriate to not agree with his “take that, MTA!” thing though of course this is a great demonstration of how private automobilism has hurt Manhattan. Prepayment is used in many parts of Europe etc.

  • Danny Garwood

    I don’t think it’s meaningless. If getting from point A to point B takes 5 minutes by cab, 10 by bike, 15 by car including parking, 20 by bus and 25 by foot, those are important numbers which (among other factors) affect our mode choice.

  • Um, there’s a reason Jimmy Hendrix’s song “Crosstown Traffic” resonates. An army brigade could board and exit that bus every block and it would hardly affect the time. (If you didn’t know, Electric Lady Land, where that song was recorded, is downtown.)

  • I love the humor here but honestly this is nothing more than a publicity stunt. It’s no secret buses in Manhattan during business hours move slowly. Take from me that there are times when keeping up with a city bus on a bike is no easy feat, despite that they stop for passengers and I don’t. I’ve often “raced” buses on my late night rides up roads like Union Turnpike. Not really a race in the strict sense, obviously, as we both stay out of each other’s way, but nevertheless it’s a challenge for me to see if I can keep up. Well, about half the time I can’t. And it isn’t because I’m going slow. I’ll typically average between 17 and 20 mph late nights on arterials with the bare minimum of stops/slowdowns needed to avoid traffic, and yet I still get beat by the bus half the time. Even during the day it’s often more of a challenge than you might think. Mark Malkoff was just after the easy pickings. Heck, I could have beat that bus walking.

  • LULZ remind me to take me one of those to ride to Manhattan next time. My last ride took me 2 hours using both train and bus :<

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