It's that time of the year again—the 2012 Pokey Awards were bestowed by the Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives today, heralding the triumphant return of the M42 bus as well as newcomer M66 as the slowest buses in the city. The M42, as you may remember, was cruelly edged out of its two-time title by the M50 last year, but has since rebounded, with it and the M66 both clocking in at the so-called "speed" of 3.9 MPH. And for the record, that's slower than an amusement park bumper car.
"The M66 and M42 are excruciatingly slow," Gene Russianoff, attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, said. "A bumper car can go 4.3 miles per hour compared to the 3.9 miles of the Pokey Award winning buses." The "uncoveted" awards were based on the speed of rides taking by Straphangers Campaign volunteers and staff members on 34 popular bus routes throughout the five boroughs. The M66, which travels crosstown on 65th and 66th Sts between York and West End Aves, carries 12,764 riders on an average weekday; the M42, which travels crosstown on 42nd St between First and Twelfth Aves, carries 14,996.
To be sure, crosstown riders aren't the only ones crawling. The M4, which travels down Fifth and Madison Aves and Broadway from Fort Tryon Park to Penn Station, was awarded this year's "Schleppie" award for least reliable service, with nearly 30 percent of its buses arriving bunched together, or widely gapped. Other slow buses of note: the B35 LTD, between Sunset Park and Brownsville in Brooklyn; the Bx19 between the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and Harlem; the Q58 between Ridgewood and Flushing; the S48 between Mariners Harbor and the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island. "It's our hope that this will encourage the city to make greater progress on speeding up bus service," Russianoff said.
According to spokesman Kevin Ortiz, the MTA is pretty aware that city buses are slow. "In an effort to increase bus speeds, NYC Transit continues to work with NYCDOT to establish dedicated bus lanes and the NYPD for lane enforcement," he told us. "Past efforts, particularly on Select Bus Service (SBS) routes, have resulted in increased bus speeds. Also, as off-board payment, a component of SBS, continues to expand, we would expect to see a decrease in dwell times at high volume stops with a corresponding increase in speed."
Ortiz also noted that the M66 and M42 routes are particularly slow now because of construction hampering speed and efficiency on both routes. So for now at least, you're probably better off riding your Big Wheel.