There are a few things that are good slow — a stroll in a park or drinking a cup of coffee — but not a bus ride. Yet dozens of routes had buses plodding through streets at single-digit speeds, with the M79 ranking the worst among them, according to a report from the Straphangers Campaign.
The group’s annual Pokey Award for the slowest route found that the crosstown M79 at 79th Street clocked in at an average of 3.2 mph — less than human walking speed — during its noon run.
“Most New Yorkers hold bus service in contempt. They find it the most frustrating part of the day,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. “Bus service makes subway service look like a day at the beach.”
The top 10 slowest bus routes were all Manhattan crosstown buses. The Straphangers Campaign also awarded bus routes a Schleppie Award for most unreliable service, like buses bunched together or running off schedule. Those “winners” included the M15 and the east side-to-Harlem lines that run on Third, Lexington, Lenox and Amsterdam avenues — routes where about a third of buses were unreliable.
Russianoff suggested that local buses need the features of Select Bus service to improve how fast they run. This includes off-board fare payment, priority street signals and bus-only lanes.
“The SBS buses are considerably faster than the local buses and modestly better” in reliability, Russianoff said. Still, “it’s kind of disappointing, we would hope they’d be more reliable.”
Despite the benefits, four Select Bus lines — touted by the MTA and the city for speeding up rides — still made it into the top 34 slowest routes.
The M15 SBS route,which carries riders along First and Second avenues, was the worst, running at a midday average of 6.4 mph; other SBS lines on the list include the Bx41 on Webster Avenue, the Bx12 on Pelham Parkway and Fordham Road, and the S79 on Hylan Boulevard. The M15 SBS, meanwhile, was the second most unreliable line, with 32.7% unreliability, according to the report.
The Straphangers report conducted its survey on 41 routes, looking at buses that departed at noon between May 20 and August 21; eight Select and local routes were excluded due to construction.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said four new Select bus routes, including more crosstown lines, are in development and that the transit authority was working with the city Department of Transportation to get more lanes and traffic signal priority for buses.
“While traffic plays the most significant role in bus speeds, we have increased dispatching efforts and are using our GPS-enabled bus fleet to monitor real-time bus performance in order to make scheduling adjustments when possible,” Ortiz said. “We will continue to explore other ways to create more even spacing between buses along these routes.”