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The Slowest Bus in New York City

New York City has some of the slowest bus service in the country. The 9th annual Pokey and Shleppie Awards, given by NYPIRG's Straphanger Campaign and Transportation Alternatives, shine a spotlight on this unfortunate fact by recognizing the slowest and most unreliable buses in the Big Apple. Tune in above to see which routes earn the oh-so-prestigious award.

We won't spoil the surprise by telling you the winner, but even despite speeds slower than walking, the slowest route in New York City carries 3.7 million passengers annually. The runner-up, the M14, carries 12 million riders a year. Higher speeds would not only help all those New Yorkers get to work or spend more time with their families, they'd also surely increase ridership.

That's why the Straphangers are organizing support for Select Bus Service along Brooklyn's Nostrand Avenue. The current limited bus service there, the B44, ranked as the fourth-slowest bus in the borough -- not quite a Pokey Award winner, but a real contender. With innovations like off-board fare payment, dedicated bus lanes, and transit signal priority, the B44's 13.3 million annual passengers could soon face a far faster ride. In the Bronx, Select Bus Service on Fordham Road improved bus speeds by 20 percent and ridership by 30 percent. In the first month of operation, Select Bus Service on First and Second Avenue cut trip times by 14 to 19 percent.


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Gene Russianoff:  [00:04] The Pokey goes to the bus with the slowest speed in New York City.

 

Paul Steely White:  [00:08] Every year we find there are several New York City buses with average speeds slower than that of your average walker. 

 

Gene Russianoff:  [00:15] This is the sad reality.  We really do have the slowest buses in America and some of them are slow.  Some of the buses we’ve clocked at 3.4 and 3.0, so we compare the buses to people walking, chickens running, penguins swimming, and last year we compared it to a five year old on a motorised tricycle that could hit speeds of five miles per hour.  We actually have people ride the buses and time them and calculate their speed given the length of the trip and we’re able to say pretty authoritatively which is the slowest bus in a given year.  And the winner of the 2010 Pokey Award is…

 

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M42 Crosstown on 42nd Street in Manhattan. 

 

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Speaker:  [00:55] The M42 bus is extremely slow and there have been many times when I’ve needed to take a bus across town, but I purposely don’t because it’s much faster to walk. 

 

Speaker:  [01:05]  On this route, you know, people use the bus, you know, especially like during the day it’s very slow. 

 

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Paul Steely-White:  [01:16] The Schleppie goes out to the bus that has the widest gaps in service.

 

Gene Russianoff:  [01:20] For those routes that have more than one in five of it buses arrive either bunched together in herd, which just drives New Yorkers absolutely insane, or spaced far apart.  And the winner of the 2010 Shleppie Award for most unreliable service in New York City goes to…

 

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Bx41 – White Plains Road & Webster Avenue btwn. Wakefield and the Hub in the Bronx.

 

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Speaker:  [01:41] If the bus was something I could count on, like I get off the subway at the same time everyday.  If I knew the bus was always three minutes away, it would definitely make sense to wait for it.  But I don’t like to play games when I’m trying to get home from work, you know. 

 

Paul Steely White:  [01:54] Bus riders in New York City should be getting the red carpet.  They’re taking a less polluting, more efficient way of getting around.  If you look at the fact that 2.5 million New Yorkers are riding the bus everyday, they deserve better.  We have had lots of luck the last couple of years, especially as Janette Sadik-Khan has come in as DOT Commissioner where finally the DOT and the MTA are working together to implement Bus Rapid Transit strategies to speed New York City buses. Last year the Select bus service on Forum Road and the Bronx was extremely successful, that route is now 41% faster than a local route.  We’re very optimistic about First and Second Avenue that which just opened recently.  And there are several bus routes around New York City, virtually all of them in fact could benefit from some form of Bus Rapid Transit, whether that means signal priority, stations that have flat level boarding, prepaid boarding so that people can get on the bus very quickly, making the bus lanes themselves much more insulated from mixed traffic to give those buses a speedy right-of-way. 

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Transcription Sponsored by: Transcript Divas Transcription Services

Robin Urban Smith is a multimedia storyteller who prefers to go by bike.

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  • Tsuyoshi

    It's interesting that the two slowest routes are also the only ones that overlap with crosstown subway routes.

  • martin

    find out what those crocks are doing with the milloins of dollars they collect everyday and why they raise the fair alll the time !

  • Sandy Fenn

    I love the chicken.

  • http://criticalmasspanic.blogspot.com/ Mellow Yellow

    It makes me wonder if there is some sort of conspiracy that favors the personal automobile over all other forms of transportation, which has a vested interest in making sure public transit is pokey and schleppy.

  • Jennifer

    One of the things that also contributes to delays is that many passengers insist on exiting through the front door instead of the rear. A little cooperative effort among riders would go a long way too.