The M50 bus, which travels cross-town on 49th and 50th Streets between First and Twelfth Avenues, won the Pokey award for the slowest bus in NYC this year, according to the annual analysis conducted by the Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives. The "victory" for the M50 is something of an upset, because for the past two years the crosstown M42 bus line has crawled away with the "uncoveted" Pokey for slowest bus service. But this year the M50 had the slowest bus speed, hitting 3.5 miles per hour as clocked at 12 noon on a weekday.
“The M50 is slooooow,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. "You can push a lawnmower faster crosstown than it takes the M50 to go from 1st to 12th Avenue." Russianoff says a human-powered push mower can go 4 mph, compared to 3.5 mph on the M50. (In April, funnyman Mark Malkoff raced the M42 crosstown while riding a Big Wheel trike, and won.) The award is based on the speed of rides taken by Straphangers Campaign staff and volunteers on 35 routes. Lines were selected because they: 1) had high ridership; or 2) were historically slow Manhattan crosstown routes.
The sixth-annual “Schleppie” award, for the city’s least reliable buses, was also awarded, after an analysis of official transit statistics measuring how well buses keep to scheduled intervals. This year's Schleppie, comprised of golden lumbering elephants on a pedestal, went to the M101/102/103. According to the Straphangers Campaign, more than one out of four M101/102/103's arrived with big gaps in service or bunched together.
The slowest bus routes in each borough are (drumroll please): the B41 (6.5 mph between Kings Plaza and Downtown Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue), the Bx19 (5.0 mph between Botanical Garden in the Bronx and Harlem), the M50 (3.5 mph crosstown on 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan), the Q58 (7.2 mph between Ridgewood, Queens, and Flushing/Main Street), and the S48 (8.8 mph between Richmond Terrace and St. George Ferry Terminal, Staten Island).
Transportation Alternatives' Executive Director Paul Steely White said he was troubled by official transit statistics showing that breakdowns had increased on city buses by 12% since last year. And the percentage of city buses that were 12 years or older had more than doubled in the past year, from 16% of the bus fleet in 2010 to 35% in 2011.
Asked about the awards, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told us, "The past year established Select Bus Service as a game changer in New York, with 20 percent faster bus service now on three routes. We are working with the City to expand the SBS network, bringing faster boarding, dedicated bus lanes and enhanced bus lane enforcement to more and more routes. At the same time we are pursuing real-time bus arrival information and a new fare payment system that will improve bus service across the entire system."