This morning the NYC Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives held their big awards show for the worst exemplars of poor bus service. The "top" prize is called the Pokey award; it's a golden snail on a pedestal, and it went to the poor sad crosstown M42, which had the slowest bus speed at 3.7 miles per hour, as clocked at 12 noon on a weekday. According to the award presenters, the M42 would lose a race with a five-year-old riding a motorized tricycle with a speed of 5 mph (as advertised by X-Treme Scooters). But the M42 wasn't the only bus to crawl away with a prize!
The fourth-annual “Schleppie” was awarded for the city’s least reliable bus, and was selected based on official transit statistics. (The Pokey, on the other hand, was awarded based on actual rides taken by volunteers on 23 slow bus routes.) This year the Schleppie went to the B44, which runs on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. During the first half of 2009, more than one in five B44s — 21.7% — arrived bunched together or came with big gaps in service. (Last year’s “winner,” was the M101/2/3, which runs between Upper and Lower Manhattan.)
Finally, the third award was the first-ever Trekkie, for the city bus route with the longest scheduled running time. The Trekkie (a golden camel on a pedestal) went to the M4, which runs between Penn Station and Fort Tryon Park. A trip from Penn Station in Manhattan to Fort Tryon in Upper Manhattan on the M4 is scheduled to take 1 hour and 50 minutes, according to MTA New York City Transit’s schedules. "What a trek!" said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. "Long haul riders on the M4 should be sure to bring along travel Monopoly and a pillow."
No representatives from the MTA or NYC Transit were on hand to accept the awards, but they did issue this statement: "Buses were introduced to New York City more than 100 years ago and despite being, by far, the most efficient vehicles on rubber tires as far as the numbers of people they carry, they are still forced to vie for the same street space as a single-occupant automobile. However, with recent innovations such as Select Bus Service (SBS) and signal light prioritization, as well as plans to further improve service recently outlined by MTA Chairman Jay Walder, it is important for the city’s 2.3 million bus customers to know that we are working to achieve improvements in bus speeds and reliability."