Streams

Straphangers Campaign Says M50 Bus Is Slowest of Them All

Thursday, December 01, 2011

WNYC

The Straphangers Campaign is out with its annual Pokie Award, and the "winner" is the M50 bus.

Every year, the group gives out two awards for poor bus service: the Pokie, for the slowest bus, and the Schleppie, for the least reliable.

The advocacy group said it clocked the M50 โ€” which runs crosstown between the United Nations on the East Side of Manhattan to Pier 43 โ€” at noon at an average speed of only 3.5 miles per hour.

"The bus is just tremendously slow," said Straphangers spokesman Gene Russianoff. "You can push a lawnmower faster across Midtown than it takes the M50 to go from First to Second Avenue."

Russianoff said that though the M50 is particularly desultory, the city's bus system is plagued by plodding speeds as it makes 2.5 million trips on an average weekday. "That's a lot of people stuck in traffic who deserve quicker trips," he said.

The Straphangers Campaign gave the Schleppie Award to the M101, 102 and 103 buses on the Upper East Side for arriving in bunches and failing to meet their schedules. He said those bus lines could move faster if the city protected them from traffic with dedicated lanes and enabled quicker boarding by having passengers pay beforehand at bus stop kiosks, as is the case with Select Bus Service on the 34th Street crosstown route.

The MTA agrees, in concept.

"The past year established Select Bus Service as a game changer in New York, with 20 percent faster bus service now on three routes," MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. "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."

The city's bus system has absorbed some blows in recent years. The MTA cut 37 bus lines and shut down 570 bus stops as a cost-saving measure in June 2010. And while subway ridership has grown over the past two years, bus ridership is down by nearly two percent.

MTA statistics show that breakdowns on city buses have increased by 12 percent since last year. And the percentage of city buses that are 12 years or older has more than doubled, from 16 percent of the bus fleet in 2010 to 35 percent in 2011.

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