The 2010 Pokey Awards were handed out today at a lavish black-tie ceremony outside the main branch of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street. The awards, presented by the NYC Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives, honor the biggest underachievers in bus service. Last year the crosstown M42 bus line crawled away with the "uncoveted" Pokey for slowest bust service, and this year the M42 won again (even though the route changed to terminate at 42nd Street). The M42 had the slowest bus speed overall, clocking in at 3.6 miles per hour at 12 noon on a weekday. That's as slow as walking!
The winner was determined by a survey conducted this summer by Straphangers Campaign staffers and volunteers. According to their methodology [pdf], "Each route was measured with an actual trip in both directions, beginning with the first bus departing from a terminus after 12 noon. The return trip was made from the second terminus back to the first on the next bus available. During each trip, surveyors recorded to the second the amount of time taken from terminus to terminus in each direction... Bus speeds were calculated by dividing the total number of miles per run by the fraction of the hour taken to cover the total distance."
The M42 wasn't the only bus to walk away with dishonors. The Bx41, which runs on White Plains Road and Webster Avenue in the Bronx, picked up a "Schleppie" award for the city’s least reliable bus. The Schleppie winner is decided by an analysis of official transit statistics, which show that almost one in four Bx41 buses arrived bunched together or came with big gaps during the first half of 2010. Last year’s Schleppie “winner” with the worst reliability was the B44, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
“There are 2.6 million daily bus riders in New York City,” Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement. “They deserve better than pokey and schleppie bus service... The next generation of buses is making inroads in New York City — Select Bus Service can cut travel time for riders,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Where these fast buses have been tried in the Bronx, travel times dropped at least 20 percent."
Asked about the awards, MTA spokesman Charles Seaton said, "MTA NYC Transit is grateful for the Straphangers’ acknowledgment of improved service along routes where we have implemented Select Bus Service (SBS). More bus customers will benefit from speedier and more efficient service as additional SBS routes are rolled out across the City. Aside from the Bx12 and M15 routes, plans are currently underway for the roll-out of SBS service along the B44. Also, we are continuing to work with the New York City Department of Transportation to increase the number of bus lanes and locations where buses would have traffic signal priority. And for the first time, bus riders have been able to track the exact location of buses, thanks to the new MTA BusTime pilot introduced to the M16 and M34 routes in Manhattan."