Manhattan Bus Routes Sweep the 2013 Pokey and Schleppie Awards

The Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives today handed out their annual awards for the slowest and least reliable NYC buses, with Manhattan routes taking the honors.

Photo: ##http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/12/01/manhattans-m50-crosstown-bus-wins-pokey-award/##WCBS##
Photo: ##http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/12/01/manhattans-m50-crosstown-bus-wins-pokey-award/##WCBS##

The M42 and the M50 tied for the 2013 Pokey award. Each crosstown bus was clocked at 3.4 miles per hour at noon on a weekday. That’s slower than a wooden row boat “in still water without wind,” according to a press release announcing the awards. In 2012, the M42 and M50 transported 14,829 and 3,383 riders, respectively, on an average weekday.

The B41 Limited (5.7 mph), the Bx19 (4.9 mph), the Q58 (7 mph), and the S48 (7.7 mph) were the slowest buses in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.

Taking home the Schleppie for least reliable bus this year was the M101/2/3. More than 30 percent of the route’s buses were bunched or separated by gaps, Straphangers and TA said.

In 2012, the M101 moved 29,341 riders on an average weekday, the M102 had 15,284 riders, and the M103 transported 12,548 people.

Other least reliable buses, according to Straphangers and TA: the Bx55 in the Bronx, the S74 in Staten Island, the B44 in Brooklyn, and the Q85 in Queens.

The Pokeys always make for a theatrical set piece underscoring the need to upgrade conventional bus routes. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has pledged to build a Bus Rapid Transit network of more than 20 lines. This week the Pratt Center for Community Development unveiled a plan for eight potential routes featuring separated busways with platform-level boarding.

  • Ben Kintisch

    How about in the same way we prioritize unsafe street intersections for pedestrian improvements we select the slowest bus routes for prioritized bus enhancements?

  • Ian Turner

    Would probably make more sense to prioritize bus routes with ridership (or potential ridership). You could theoretically make a superfast express bus from Maspeth to Bay Ridge, but who would ride?

  • Andrew

    Be careful with the Pokey Award. Only 34 bus routes were considered, and average speeds were based on one single round trip between June 5 and August 14 – a tiny sample size during a time of year when bus ridership patterns and traffic congestion are somewhat atypical.

    http://www.straphangers.org/pokeyaward/13/Pokeys_2013_Methodology.pdf

    BusTime is live in three boroughs. Why wouldn’t they use the publicly available BusTime data feed to generate a much more robust and meaningful sample?

  • Andrew

    Ha! I made virtually the same exact comment a year ago, aside from the BusTime idea.

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/12/11/this-awards-season-manhattan-buses-rank-as-the-citys-worst/#comment-733534661

  • Clarke

    Love the media coverage of this…with a “ha ha, but of course!” spin. No one dares to ask “How do we change this??”

  • Andrew

    You think they care? How many members of the mainstream media rely on transit to get themselves around the city?

  • Bolwerk

    You don’t keep drawing attention to it if you simply don’t care. Given the lack of attention actual solutions get, a more plausible explanation is schadenfreude.

  • Bolwerk

    I think Ben is right, actually. What is the downside of traffic mitigation to speed up a congested bus route with low ridership? Cheaper operating costs for the TA? Less wasted fuel? Faster rides for fewer people? Fresher air for pedestrians and cyclists along the route? Reduced odds of being run over?

    I think all that is worth it even if ridership doesn’t go up a hair.

  • Joe R.

    Very often the reason these routes have low ridership is because they’re slow. Speeding them up significantly could greatly increase ridership. The key is to make taking the bus as fast or faster than driving, or at least not much slower. People will take the bus if it takes 5 minutes longer than driving, but not 30 minutes longer.

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