This Awards Season, Manhattan Buses Rank as the City’s Worst

This woman waiting for the M4 in Washington Heights may have to wait a lot longer: it is the city's least reliable bus. Photo: Susan NYC/Flickr

Since 2006, Streetsblog has provided red carpet coverage of the annual Pokey and Schleppie awards, given out by the Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives to the city buses with the slowest average speed and the least reliable service, respectively. This year, Manhattan buses took the crown in both categories.

Although the awards spotlight the routes most notorious for crawling through traffic, stopping at every block, and bunched three in a row, there is a bright spot: Select Bus Service has been living up to its promises — with more routes set to get the speedier service in the coming years.

In the survey, the Bx12 SBS on Fordham Road and Pelham Parkway traveled at 7.9 mph, 19.6 percent faster than the Bx12 local’s 6.6 mph. Meanwhile, on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, M15 Select buses moved along at 7.8 mph — 50 percent faster than the M15 local, which lumbered at 5.2 mph.

These numbers didn’t come from nowhere: Although not as robust as Bus Rapid Transit in other cities, SBS features limited-stop service, camera-enforced bus lanes, off-board fare collection and, in many cases, transit priority at stop lights. Buses without these improvements remain stuck in gridlock.

The result? This year, there is a tie for the Pokey award, with the M66 and M42 crosstown buses both clocking in at 3.9 mph. In a statement, Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said these buses “would lose a race to an amusement park bumper car,” which can hit top speeds of 4.3 mph.

Straphangers and TA analyzed bus data citywide, and each borough has its very own Pokey award winner. The full list, plus the highly-anticipated Schleppie award results, after the jump.

Each borough’s slowest bus route, including the award-winning crosstown Manhattan buses:

  • Brooklyn: B35 LTD between Sunset Park and Brownsville (5.6 mph)
  • Bronx: Bx19 between New York Botanical Garden and Harlem (4.9 mph)
  • Manhattan (tie): M42 Crosstown on 42nd Street (3.9 mph)
  • Manhattan (tie): M66 Crosstown on 65th and 66th Streets (3.9 mph)
  • Queens: Q58 between Ridgewood and Flushing Main Street (7.0 mph)
  • Staten Island: S48 between Mariners Harbor and St. George Ferry Terminal (8.1 mph)

The Schleppie is awarded to the city’s most unreliable route, with more than 20 percent of buses bunched together or with major gaps in service. The bus riders of Queens can breathe easy this year, since none of their borough’s routes qualified for the award. Instead, the winner was the M4, which ranked as 28.3 percent unreliable. Buses in the other boroughs did not fare much better:

  • Brooklyn: B15 between Bedford-Stuyvesant and JFK Airport on New Lots and Marcus Garvey Avenues (20.1 percent unreliable)
  • Bronx: Bx41 between Williamsbridge and the Hub on Webster Avenue (21.8 percent unreliable)
  • Manhattan: M4 between Fort Tryon Park and Penn Station on 5th and Madison Avenues and Broadway (28.3 percent unreliable)
  • Staten Island: S78 between St. George Ferry and Bricktown Mall on Hylan Boulevard (25.8 percent unreliable)

For more on the state of New York City buses, take a look at the award methodology and the full tables showing bus speeds and unreliable routes.