Regular riders of the city’s crosstown buses know that those routes are often slow and cumbersome—and now, there’s data to prove it. Advocates from NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and TransitCenter handed out the yearly “Pokies” and “Schleppies” awards to the worst bus routes, based on their analysis of MTA data.
Those dubious honors go to the M14A, which won the Pokey, with the slowest route; the B15, which won the Schleppie, for having the least reliable route; and the M42, which received the Lifetime Depreciation Award for offering a longstanding service so poor that its ridership has dipped.
Though a new Select Bus Service route was rolled out for the M14A as part of the L train slowdown—without a dedicated busway—it had the slowest average speed, 4.3 miles per hour, out of 60 high-ridership routes (those with at least 10,000 average daily riders on weekdays) analyzed by advocates at NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and TransitCenter.
“The M14A has recently been upgraded to an SBS 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,” the awards report reads. Neighbors sued the Department of Transportation in opposition to their bus- and truck-prioritizing plans on 14th Street; and three days before the new dedicated busway—to go along with the Select Bus Service route—was supposed to roll out, a judge issued an injunction to temporarily block it.
Other slow routes include the B35, Bx19, Q54, and S48.
The B15—which travels between Bed-Stuy and JFK Airport—won the Schleppie award for least reliable route, since its riders often face long waits and unpredictable arrival times (20 percent of them arrive “bunched,” meaning that two or more buses arrive at a stop at the same time), leading to large gaps in service.
“It’s extremely frustrating to wait twice as long for a B15 only to see two show up at the same time,” Mary Buchanan, research associate at TransitCenter, said in a statement. “What makes it even more aggravating is that we know the solution: Dedicated, enforced bus lanes would un-bunch even the B15.” Other routes that were deemed unreliable include the Bx3, M11, Q24, and S78.
And the M42 takes the Lifetime Depreciation Award because it has won the Pokey Award five times with average speeds of less than 4 miles per hour. Distressingly, more than 5,000 daily riders have stopped taking the bus since 2012.
But there is some good news: None of the slowest high-ridership routes have gotten slower over the past year, which means they are slightly faster than last year’s winners. Also, the number of routes eligible for the Schleppie Award—buses that get “bunched”—has decreased since last year.
To determine this year’s winners, advocates from TransitCenter and the Straphangers Campaign used MTA BusTime data for May 2019 (only New York City Transit buses, not MTA Bus Company ones); looking at buses traveling on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and considering high-ridership bus routes only.