Straphangers Campaign names annual Schleppie, Pokey awards for poor bus service

NEW YORK (WABC) -- If you are not in a rush, many New Yorkers say take the bus. And if you're REALLY not in a rush, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign has the routes for you.

The Straphangers Campaign and TransitCenter on Tuesday gave out its annual "Pokey" and "Schleppie" awards for poor bus service in New York City, as well as a brand new "Lifetime Depreciation Award" for the line that is so bad it drives riders away in droves.

The 16th annual "Pokey" award for slowest local bus route in New York City went to the M14A, which had the slowest speed out of more than 60 high-ridership bus routes reviewed by the Straphangers Campaign and TransitCenter.

The groups noted that the M14A has recently been upgraded to an Select Bus Service route, with off-board fare payment and bus stop consolidation, but the most critical element to speeding up service -- a dedicated busway -- has recently been blocked. Without a bus lane along 14th Street, traffic congestion is negating the gains that M14 riders should see from these improvements.

It clocked in at 4.3 miles per hour, which the group points out is slower than a manatee, which typically averages 5 miles an hour.

"While manatees are slow, they play an important role in maintaining a healthy underwater ecosystem, and yet are often put at risk by motorboats in overcrowded waters," the groups wrote in a press release. "Similarly, the M14A provides a vital service to New York City's transit system each day, yet suffers from heavy congestion along its route, threatening its performance and ridership."

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The groups report the slowest high-ridership buses in each borough are:
--Brooklyn: B35, 4.8 mph, between Brownsville and Sunset Park
--Bronx: Bx19, 4.8 mph, between New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, and Riverbank Park, Manhattan
--Manhattan: M14A, 4.3 mph, between Lower East Side and Chelsea Piers
--Queens: Q54, 6.4 mph, between Jamaica, Queens, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn
--Staten Island: S48, 7.8 mph, between St. George and Mariners Harbor

The award is a golden snail on a pedestal, and it is based on the average speeds of routes. High-ridership routes with 10,000 daily riders or more were considered.

The winner of the 12th Schleppie award for least reliable service went to the B15. The award, golden lumbering elephants on a pedestal, is based on the percentage of buses observed that "bunch," using data generated by BusTime.

"Bunching" occurs when two or more buses arrive at a stop at the same time, meaning that they are not on-schedule. One out of five buses, or 20%, arrive bunched on the B15, and that means long waits and too much unpredictability for 19,827 daily weekday riders traveling between Bed-Stuy and JFK Airport.

"Traveling to the airport is a universally stressful experience," said Jaqi Cohen, Campaign Director for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. "For Brooklyn bus riders, that experience is only made worse by taking the B15, which is the only bus in Brooklyn that connects riders to JFK Airport."

According to the groups, the most unreliable bus routes in each borough are:
--Brooklyn: B15, 20.0%, between Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and JFK Airport, Queens
--Bronx: Bx3, 19.2%, between Riverdale, Bronx, and Washington Heights, Manhattan
--Manhattan: M11, 14.0%, between Greenwich Village and Harlem or Riverbank Park
--Queens: Q24, 16.3%, between Jamaica, Queens, and Bushwick, Brooklyn
--Staten Island: S78, 10.1%, between Bricktown Mall and St. George Ferry Terminal

The third award -- and the groups' newest -- is the "Lifetime Depreciation Award," honoring a bus route with longstanding service so poor that many riders have stopped taking it.

The first ever Lifetime Depreciation Award goes to the M42, which has won the Pokey Award five times in years past with average speeds of less than 4mph.

More than 5,000 daily M42 riders, representing a third of its total ridership, have stopped taking the bus since 2012.

Current ridership has dipped so low that the M42 is no longer eligible for a Pokey award. This year, the groups recognize the M42 as a route whose notoriously slow service -- at 3.5 mph as of May 2019 -- has convinced many riders not to take the route at all.

To see the full report and for all the stats and information on each line in each borough, visit Straphangers.org.

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