NYPIRG STRAPHANGERS CAMPAIGN • TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES
|Embargoed for Release: |
December 11, 2014, 10:30 a.m.
|For More Information Contact:
Gene Russianoff (917) 575-9434
Paul Steely White (646) 247-6734
M79 Wins Pokey Award With Slowest Speed:
Abysmal 3.2 MPH Crawl
“Hawaiian Lava Flow Travels Faster!”
Schleppie Award Goes to Local M15, City’s Least Reliable Bus;
33% Arrive Bunched Together or With Major Gaps In Service
Some Good News:
NY Investment in “Faster, More Reliable Bus Routes” Is Paying Off
New York, New York — The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives today gave out two awards highlighting poor bus service in New York City.
The first is the thirteenth-annual “Pokey” for slowest local bus route in New York City.
The uncoveted Pokey award is a golden snail on a pedestal. The award is based on the speed of rides recorded by Straphangers Campaign staff and volunteers on 34 routes. Lines were selected because they had high ridership or were historically slow Manhattan crosstown routes. (See methodology.)
The “winner” of the 2014 Pokey is the M79 crosstown. It had the slowest bus speed at an excruciating 3.2 miles per hour as clocked at 12 noon on a weekday.
In comparison, the groups noted that the fastest recorded Hawaiian lava flow travelled at 6 MPH in contrast to the observed 3.2 MPH speed for the M79.1
“I’d think twice before trying to evacuate from an erupting volcano in an M79 bus,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “Fleeing on foot would be faster, with an average human walking speed of about 3.5 MPH.”
In 2013, the M79 moved 17,374 riders on an average weekday and ranked 34th in riders out of 192 local bus routes. The M79 travels crosstown on 79th and 81st Streets between East End Avenue and the 79th Street Boat Basin.2
According to the groups, the slowest bus routes in each borough are:
|B41||5.7 mph||between Downtown Brooklyn and Kings Plaza/Bergen Beach|
|Bx19||4.8 mph||between NY Botanical Garden in the Bronx and Harlem|
|M79||3.2 mph||Crosstown on 79th and 81st Streets in Manhattan|
|Q58||7.7 mph||between Ridgewood, Queens and Flushing Main Street|
|S48/98||8.3 mph||between Mariners Harbor and St. George Ferry Terminal, Staten Island|
The second award is the ninth-annual “Schleppie” for the city’s least reliable bus routes and is based on official transit statistics, which measure how well buses keep to scheduled intervals. The Schleppie is comprised of golden lumbering elephants on a pedestal.
The “winner” of the 2014 Schleppie is the local M15 with 33 percent of buses arriving with big gaps in service or bunched together.3
The M15 goes from downtown to uptown Manhattan along First and Second Avenues. The M15 local and M15 SBS moved 54,310 riders on an average weekday in 2013 and was ranked the highest route in bus ridership in the city out of a total 192 local bus routes. 4
The most unreliable bus routes in each of four boroughs with over 20% of buses bunched together or big gaps in service are:
|B44||25.4% unreliable btwn Sheepshead Bay and Williamsburg Bridge|
|Bx15||21.2% unreliable between Fordham Plaza and Harlem|
|M15||33.0% unreliable between downtown and uptown Manhattan on First and Second Avenues|
|S78||27.2% unreliable between St. George Ferry Terminal and Bricktown Mall, Staten Island|
“New Yorkers know from bitter daily experience that bus service is slow and unreliable,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “But there is real hope for dramatic improvement in Mayor de Blasio’s plan to build a rapid network of 20 ‘Select Bus Service/Bus Rapid Transit’ routes.”
Select Bus Service has features that provide faster service, such as collecting fares before boarding buses; buses with three doors and low floors to speed up boarding and alighting; reconfiguring bus stops and bus lanes to reduce conflicts with other traffic; wider subway-style spacing between stops; and enforcement of bus lanes by camera to keep the lanes moving. To date, both the City and MTA New York City Transit have constructed seven faster and more reliable SBS routes.5
The groups reviewed this year’s speed and reliability improvements on SBS routes compared to local bus performance on the same route. We found that the SBS routes were:
• Living up to their promise of faster speeds – with increases on three SBS routes ranging from 19% to 24% to 29%;6 and
• Performing more modestly on reliability, with increases of 4% (Bx41), 5% (Bx12), and 16% (B44) and no change on the M15.
In the 2002 Pokey Awards, the groups found that the city’s slowest bus route was the M96. In 2003, the groups awarded the Pokey to the M23, in 2004 and 2005 to the M34, in 2006 to the M14A, in 2007 to the M23, the M96 in 2008, the M42 in 2009 and 2010, the M50 in 2011, the M42 tied the M66 in 2012, and the M42 and M50 in 2013.
The groups cautioned that comparisons with past findings were difficult due to changes in methodology and bus routes over the years. In addition, changes in bus speeds since 2004 have generally been too small to demonstrate significant trends. (See methodology.)
The criterion for selecting buses to be evaluated for speed is largely the same as in our 2010 survey. Between 2005 and 2009, bus routes to be surveyed were selected based on New York City Transit data. Specifically, we surveyed the ten slowest routes (all in Manhattan), as determined by NYC Transit in bus profiles compiled in 2000. We also surveyed the three slowest routes in the other boroughs. In the 2011 survey, the number of routes surveyed increased from 29 to 35. In the 2012 survey, the number of routes surveyed dropped from 35 to 34.
In this survey, the total number or routes observed was 41. Three routes were dropped because of construction on them during the survey period. Four more routes out of the 41 were dropped because they are slated for significant upgrades as part of the Select Bus Service program. As a result, we included 34 bus routes in this report.
Schleppies went to any route with an average “wait assessment” greater than 20%. This determination is based on official “wait assessments” for “42 high-volume routes,” chosen by Transit. Wait assessment measures how closely a line sticks to scheduled intervals for arrival. Wait assessment becomes poorer the more buses arrive in bunches or with major gaps in service.
The Schleppie went to the M1 in both 2006 and 2007, to the M101/2/3 in 2008, the B44 in 2009, the Bx41 in 2010, the M101/2/3 in 2011, the M4 in 2012, and again to the M101/2/3 in 2013. Transit’s methodology for calculating this measure was changed in 2008.
1 “The fastest recorded Hawaiian lava flow was the first of three flows from the 1950 Mauna Loa…eruption. This flow advanced from its vent…at an average speed of 6 MPH.” http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/archive/1998/98_03_25.html
(Volcano Watch: A weekly feature provided by scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, March 25, 1998)
2 Bus Ridership numbers last accessed on November 6, 2014 at http://web.mta.info/nyct/facts/ridership/ridership_bus.htm.
3 MTA NYC Transit uses a measure of reliability known as “wait assessment.” It “is measured weekdays between 7 a.m. and midnight. It is defined as the percentage of observed service intervals that are no more than the scheduled interval plus 3 minutes during the peak (7 a.m. to 9 a.m., 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and plus 5 during off-peak (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 7 p.m. to 12 p.m.) The results are presented for a sample of 42 high-volume routes.” The most recent WA statistics can be found in the MTA New York City Transit Committee Agenda from September 2014 on pages 279-280.
4 Email to Cate Contino from Robert Marino, October 8, 2014: “The WA assessment for the M15 and M15 SBS did drop, the M15 by 10% (from 77% to 67%) and the M15 SBS by 13.9% (from 81.2% to 67.3%). There were specific circumstances that contributed to the drops. Poor weather was a factor in the first quarter of 2014. Additionally, construction on 2nd Avenue subway, bus bulb work on 1st Avenue, and water main construction at Houston and Allen Street all significantly affected WA performance in the first half of 2014 which are still active construction projects…”
5 These are:
B44 SBS on Nostrand and Rogers Aves between Sheepshead Bay and Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn
Bx12 SBS on Pelham Pkwy and Fordham Rd between Pelham Bay Park and upper Manhattan
Bx41 SBS on Webster Avenue between Williamsbridge and the Hub in the Bronx
M15 SBS on First and Second Avenues between lower Manhattan and Harlem
M34 SBS and M34A SBS crosstown on 34th Street in Manhattan
M60 SBS on 125th Street in Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport
S79 SBS on Hylan Boulevard between Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and the Staten Island Mall, Staten Island
6 Looking at the three SBS/BRT buses that can be fairly compared to local service on that route, we found: