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NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign Transportation Alternatives

NEWS RELEASE

Contact:
Embargoed for Release:                                
Wednesday, October 26, 2005, 10:30 a.m.
Gene Russianoff (212) 349-6460
Paul Steely White (212) 629-8080

Fourth-Annual “Pokeys” Awarded for Slowest City Buses;

M34 is City’s Pokiest Route at 3.4 MPH

Groups Call on Mayoral Candidate for Plans to Speed Buses; Urge Passage of Transportation Bond

The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives today gave out their fourth annual “Pokeys” — an award comprised of a golden snail on a pedestal — for the slowest local bus routes in New York City. The groups called on the leading candidates for Mayor to state their plans for faster bus service during the next four years.

The winner of the 2005 Pokey is...the M34 cross-town, for a second year. The M34 averaged 3.4 miles per hour at 12 p.m., close to the 3.0 m.p.h. maintained by the average person walking.

According to the groups, the slowest bus routes in each borough are:

B63 5.2 mph Between Bay Ridge and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Bx19 4.9 mph Between Fordham in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan
M34 3.4 mph Cross-town on 34th Street in Manhattan
Q58 6.9 mph Between Ridgewood and Flushing, Queens
S61 11.9 mph Between the Staten Island Mall and Ferry Terminal

Bus speed was determined by actually riding 23 of the bus routes found to be the slowest last year. Five surveyors rode on 23 bus routes starting at noon between July 15 and August 8, 2005. (A table of bus speeds is attached, as is a description of the methodology, which is new and does not allow us to determine whether overall bus speeds changed in the last year.)

“We call on the mayoral candidate to say how they would speed bus service if elected,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.

Paul Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives, noted that MTA New York City Transit responded to the 2004 Pokeys by saying that we had selected bus routes that operate “through dense traffic” on “traffic clogged streets.”

“That’s just the point,” White said. “There is a lot city traffic officials could do to make buses travel faster. This includes wider exclusive bus lanes with expanded hours; priority signals for buses; longer and better marked bus stops; and the use of on-bus cameras to enforce exclusive bus lanes.”

In July 2004, the MTA awarded a $3 million contract to a team of consultants to review strategies to make buses faster. The ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ study is ongoing and is being conducted with the City Department of Transportation.

Among the possible “Bus Rapid Transit” strategies which will be reviewed are:

  • Wider bus lanes with expanded hours.
  • Longer bus stops to eliminate waits for multiple buses to enter the stop.
  • Bus lanes with physical means to discourage other vehicles from violating bus lanes.
  • Pre-boarding fare payment at high-volume times and places to reduce dwell time at stops.
  • Bus priority signals to help late-arriving buses catch up to schedule.
  • Scheduling for even spacing while allowing buses to travel as fast as conditions allow.

The MTA has earmarked $21.9 million in its proposed 2005-2009 five-year capital plan to fund BRT initiatives in 2007. “That’s a good start, but if the MTA and the City want to quicken buses on more than just one or two routes, they need to earmark more funds for future years,” said White.

In the 2002 Pokey Awards, the groups found that the slowest bus route in the city was the M96, which travels cross-town in Manhattan along 96th Street. In the 2003 awards, the groups awarded the Pokey to the M23, which travels cross-town in Manhattan along 23rd Street and in 2004 to the M34, which travels cross-town in Manhattan along 34th Street. However, the groups cautioned that comparisons could not be made among past findings due to changes in methodology.

Russianoff added, “New Yorkers will have a chance to speak up for better bus service when they vote this year. That’s because a ‘yes’ vote for Ballot Proposition Two will mean more funds to buy hundreds of non-polluting buses, as well as make other improvements to the transit system.” (See attached fact sheet.)

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