'Pokey' and 'Schleppie' awards for bus service

December 1, 2011 3:29:16 PM PST
If you are not in a rush, many New Yorkers say take the bus. If you need a nap, some might say try the M50.

The Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives has awarded the crosstown bus line this year's Pokey award as the systems slowest bus.

The M50 maintains an average rate of just 3.5 miles per hour during the noontime run, officially the system's slowest bus.

"The M50 is slooooow," said Gene Russianoff, attorney for NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign. "You can push a lawnmower faster crosstown than it takes the M50 to go from 1st to 12th Avenue."

He noted that a human-powered push mower could go 4 miles per hour.

"This year's Pokey goes to yet another sad example of our underfunded transit system," said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. "The M50 might be slow, but the bus system itself is racing toward catastrophe at full speed. New Yorkers deserve better."

White said he was troubled by official transit statistics showing that breakdowns had increased on city buses by 12 percent since last year. In addition, the percentage of city buses that were 12 years or older had more than doubled in the past year, from 16 percent of the bus fleet in 2010 to 35 percent in 2011. Nearly $800 million is in the MTA's 2012 through 2014 capital plan for buying hundreds of new buses, but the funding for the program is uncertain.

In 2010, the M50 move 3,905 riders on an average weekday and ranks 151st in riders out of the 191 local bus routes. The M50 travels cross-town on 49th and 50th Streets between First and Twelfth avenues.

The slowest routes in the other four boroughs were the B41, the Bx19, the Q58 and S48. The Bx19 and Q58 were repeat "winners" from last year.

The Schleppie award for the least reliable bus went to the M101/102/103.

More than one out of four M101/102/103s arrived with big gaps in service or bunched together. The three buses share the same trunk route in Manhattan, traveling on 3rd and Lexington Avenues between the East Village and Washington Heights (M101), East Village and Harlem (M102), and City Hall and East Harlem (M103).

The three buses moved 63,538 riders on an average weekday in 2010. The M101 was ranked the 10th highest route in bus ridership in the city out of a total 191 local buses with 32,266 average weekday riders. The M102 was ranked 36th with 16,951 average weekday riders; the M103 was ranked 54th with 14,321 average weekday riders.

The most unreliable buses in other boroughs were the B44, Bx41 and S78.

For more information about the annual survey, visit Straphangers.org/PokeyAward/11/.