Manhattan Buses Dominate Pokey and Schleppie Awards

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign (l) and TA’s Paul Steely White unveil this year’s honorees

Two Manhattan bus routes took home awards for slowest and least reliable service in the 2008 Pokey and Schleppie Awards, issued today by the Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives.

The Pokey went to the M96 crosstown, which clocked an average speed of 3.7 m.p.h. as measured at noon on a weekday — .7 m.p.h. faster than the average human walking speed, but slower than a walking elephant or running chicken, according to Straphangers and TA.

The 2008 Schleppie, meanwhile, belongs to the M101/2/3 3rd/Lexington/Amsterdam/Lenox Avenue bus from Upper to Lower Manhattan, for bunching and gaps in service. 

"Riders know from bitter daily experience that it can often be faster
to walk than to take the bus," said the Straphangers’ Gene Russianoff. "Or hop on board a strolling elephant."

While bemoaning the current state of service on many routes, the groups hold out hope for the future, pointing to new and planned Select Bus Service routes.

The first SBS routes have started
on Pelham Parkway and Fordham Road in the Bronx (Bx12) and on 34th
Street in Manhattan (M34). SBS routes are planned for Nostrand Avenue
(B44), First and Second Avenues in Manhattan (M15) and Hylan Boulevard
on Staten Island (S79).

Given current conditions on 34th Street, we humbly suggest two new awards for future consideration: Time-wasting Trucker and Officer Obstacle. And maybe a special lifetime award for those with an apparent abiding grudge against bus riders? Call it The Meanie.

Click here for award methodology, and follow the jump for a complete list of Pokey and Schleppie nominees. 

Slowest bus routes:

  • B63: 4.9 m.p.h., Between Bay Ridge and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
  • Bx19: 5.3 m.p.h., Between Botanic Garden in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan
  • M96: 3.7 m.p.h., Crosstown on 96th Street in Manhattan
  • Q56: 6.1 m.p.h., Between Jamaica, Queens and East New York, Brooklyn
  • S42: 11.4 m.p.h., Between New Brighton and St. George Ferry Terminal

Most unreliable bus routes with the greatest bunching together or big gaps in service:

  • B44: 24.0% unreliable, Between Sheepshead Bay and Williamsburg on Nostrand Avenue
  • Bx41: 20.7% unreliable, Between Wakefield and the Hub on White Plains Rd/Webster Avenue
  • M101/2/3: 26.1% unreliable, Between Upper and Lower Manhattan on 3rd/Lexington/Amsterdam/Lenox Avenues
  • S74: 22.1% unreliable, Between Ferry Terminal and Tottenville on Richmond/Arthur Kill Rds

Photo: Transportation Alternatives

  • Larry Littlefield

    Eighteen months from now there may not be any buses for Russianoff to make fun of.

    Which makes you think — who would benefit and who would lose from replacing the bus system with Velib?

    And how does that line up with those who benefitted from the “cash in now to hell with the future” policies of the past 15 years?

    It seems to me that younger generations are not responsible for what we face, and they are more likely to be in the modestly decent shape required to get around by bicycle, and more likely to stay in that shape if they do.

  • Larry: “who would benefit and who would lose from replacing the bus system with Velib?”

    The answer is that no one would gain, and no one would lose, because it is impossible to replace the bus system with Velib. The disabled and most of the elderly can’t ride bikes. Many other people, myself included, are disinclined to use bikes, preferring the bus or the subway — even with higher fares and less service.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I love bikes, and I’m in very good shape for my generation. Still I had a fall a couple months back that I’m lucky to have come out of, no car involved. Bikes are a great way to get around NYC but don’t replace a bus system by any measure. Sure, you don’t have to pay for someone else’s ride, and use up very little road space relative to the space eating cars.

    I do sympathize though with Larry’s point of view on the advocates making fun of the system they advocate for. It is hard to get attention in the intense media environment we live in but in the end, how does the public build up the will to fund a system that we have just been making fun of?

  • I’ve written about the Pokeys and the Schleppies before. My main criticism is that, rather than a blanket endorsement of BRT, I’d like to see some BRT solutions that are specific to each line.

    For example, are there terra-cotta bus lanes in store for 96th Street or Fourteenth Street? Should the DOT be planning Select Bus Service for Third and Lexington Avenues instead of First and Second? 145th and 149th Streets instead of Fordham Road? Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn instead of Bedford? Are there particular bottlenecks for any of those routes?

  • Once again my bus the M96 “wins”–argh! I agree Nic that a bike is not a complete substitute for a bus system, but it is almost a complete substitute (weather permitting) for a particular bus like the M96, that runs a level 4 miles through relatively calm but highly congested traffic (excluding the CP transverse).

    I often bicycle with my 11 y/o son on 96th St. to get to school. Most mornings he wants to ride, but occasionally (especially if he didn’t get enough sleep) he insists on taking the M96. Invariably, he’s telling me that he regrets not bicycling by the end of the ride.


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