Straphangers Campaign Announces 2008 Pokey & Schleppie Award Winners

NYPRIG Straphangers Campaign Pokey AwardThe Pokey Award

The Schleppie AwardThe Schleppie Award

Earlier today the NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign handed out their annual “Pokey” & “Schleppie” Awards. The “Pokey” is awarded to New York City Transit’s slowest local bus route. The “Schleppie” is awarded to New York City Transit’s least reliable local bus route. Here is the complete press release which announced the dubious winners:

The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives today presented two awards for poor bus service in New York City.

The first is the seventh-annual “Pokey” for the slowest local bus routes in New York City. The Pokey award is a golden snail on a pedestal. It is awarded based on rides taken on 22 slow bus routes.

The second is the third-annual “Schleppie” for the city’s least reliable buses and is based on official transit statistics. The Schleppie is comprised of lumbering elephants mounted on a pedestal.

The winner of the 2008 Pokey is … the M96 crosstown. The M96 had the slowest bus speed at 3.7 miles per hour as clocked at 12:00 noon on a weekday. This is not much faster than the walking speed of the average person (3.0 mph) or slower than an elephant walking (4.5 mph). It is also slower than a running house mouse (8 mph) or chicken (9 mph). Last year’s winner was the M23 crosstown.

The winner of the 2008 Schleppie is … the M101/2/3 3rd/Lexington/Amsterdam/Lenox Avenue bus from Upper to Lower Manhattan. More than one in four of its buses bunched together or had big gaps in service. That’s the worst reliability record for 42 “high-volume” local routes surveyed by MTA New York City Transit.

Weekday noontime speeds for the Pokey were found by individuals riding 22 of the city’s slowest bus routes. Reliability was measured for the Schleppie by using performance statistics kept by MTA New York City Transit on how well buses kept to scheduled times and intervals. (See methodology.)

“Riders know from bitter daily experience that it can often be faster to walk than to take the bus,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. “Or hop on board a strolling elephant.”

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said: “But hope is around the corner with the coming of faster service with ‘Bus Rapid Transit.’”

White noted that “Bus Rapid Transit” (BRT) had brought better transit to many cities around the world and that a version known as “Select Bus Service” (SBS) is being tested here. The first SBS routes have started on Pelham Parkway and Fordham Road in the Bronx (Bx12) and on 34th Street in Manhattan (M34). SBS routes are planned for Nostrand Avenue (B44), First and Second Avenues in Manhattan (M15) and Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island (S79).

Among Bus Rapid Transit strategies now being reviewed in New York are:
• Tougher enforcement of exclusive bus lanes with barriers to discourage cars from entering;
• Pre-boarding fare payment;
• Reconfigured bus stops to speed boarding and reduce conflicts with other vehicles; and
• Bus priority signals to help buses stick to schedule.

According to the groups, the slowest bus routes in each borough are:

B63 4.9 mph Between Bay Ridge and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Bx19 5.3 mph Between Botanic Garden in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan
M96 3.7 mph Crosstown on 96th Street in Manhattan
Q56 6.1 mph Between Jamaica, Queens and East New York, Brooklyn
S42 11.4 mph Between New Brighton and St. George Ferry Terminal

The most unreliable bus routes with the greatest bunching together or big gaps in service in four boroughs are:

B44 24.0% unreliable Between Sheepshead Bay and Williamsburg on Nostrand Avenue
Bx41 20.7% unreliable Between Wakefield and the Hub on White Plains Rd/Webster Avenue
M101/2/3 26.1% unreliable Between Upper and Lower Manhattan on 3rd/Lexington/Amsterdam/Lenox Avenues
S74 22.1% unreliable Between Ferry Terminal and Tottenville on Richmond/Arthur Kill Rds

Full tables of bus speeds and reliability are attached. Schleppies went to any route with an average of unreliability greater than 20%. As a result, no Queens bus route received a Schleppie.

In the 2002 Pokey Awards, the groups found that the city’s slowest bus route was the M96. In 2003, the groups awarded the Pokey to the M23, in 2004 and 2005 to the M34, in 2006 to the M14A, and in 2007 to the M23. The groups cautioned that comparisons with some past findings were difficult due to changes in methodology over the years. In addition, changes in bus speeds since 2004 have generally been too minor to demonstrate significant trends.

The Schleppie went to the M1 in both 2006 and 2007. The official methodology for determining this measure was changed in 2008 by transit officials.

Click here for the methodology.

Click here for the complete Pokey Award chart from slowest to fastest.

Click here for the Schleppie Award chart from worst to best.

Unfortunately for riders of some routes, some things just never change. If you look at the results from last year, one would notice that some routes remained the status quo. In this case that is not the kind of distinction that the MTA could be happy about. Here are the routes that produced more of the same:

Slowest Route Category (2007):

B63 4.9 mph Between Bay Ridge and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Bx19 5.3 mph Between Botanic Garden in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan
Q56 6.1 mph Between Jamaica, Queens and East New York, Brooklyn

Most Unreliable Category (2007):

Bx41 26.1% unreliable Between Wakefield and to Hub on White Plains Road


So in the end, the results were identical for the slowest routes in the last 2 years. The only change was the unreliability of the Bx41 went down 5.4%. It is nice to see that percentage go down although it has much more room for improvement. Hopefully the MTA can find ways to improve bus service for its riders through different initiatives such as the successful Select Bus Service that was implemented on the Bx12.

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[…] can definitely use some relief: They currently depend on the most unreliable bus route in the city, according to the Straphangers Campaign. The improvements promised by Select Bus Service — pre-paid boarding, dedicated travel lanes, […]

[…] is once again that time of year when the NYPIRG Straphangers’ Campaign hands out its annual awards for the poorest bus service in New York City. The two awards given out annually are the […]

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