Did you know there’s an award for the slowest bus route in New York each year?
The New York Public Interest Research Group’s (NYPIRG) Straphangers Campaign and TransitCenter hold the Pokey Awards and give out a “Golden Snail,” and this year, they’ve selected the city’s M102 bus line, which transports 8,000 daily weekday riders from the East Village to Harlem at an average speed of 4.6 miles per hour each day.
According to a press release, the M102 bus boasts the slowest speed out of the 77 high-ridership bus routes taken into consideration—the 4.6 miles per hour average actually makes the vehicle “slower than a fluttering butterfly, which typically has a pace of 5 miles per hour.”
There is a multitude of reasons behind the bus’ oh-so-slow pace, including typical Manhattan congestion.
The organizations’ ranking features the Bx19 line, which runs between the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx and Riverbank Park in Manhattan, at the second slowest with an average speed of 4.8 miles per hour. The third slowest is the B35 bus, which runs at an average of 5.1 miles per hour between Brownsville and Sunset Park.
Lest you think the entire endeavor to be a sort of gag, you should know that, according to the press release, “nearly all of the city’s slowest, high-ridership routes have gotten faster since the last Pokey Award was bestowed pre-pandemic in 2019.” Let’s hope the trend keeps up!
The agencies actually also have some words of advice to offer the Metropolitan Transportation Authority:
"With buses maintaining higher ridership levels throughout the pandemic, the City’s transit leadership should be rolling out the red carpet for riders by enforcing bus lanes and opening all doors for boarding," said Megan Ahearn, part of the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, in an official statement.
Ashley Pryce, the senior advocacy associate at TransitCenter said that the M102 and other NYC buses are “devastatingly slow,” but that dedicated bus lanes, all-door boarding, and congestion pricing can speed them up.
“Hundreds of thousands of riders rely on New York City buses every day, and they need the MTA, the city, and the governor to enact these solutions,” she said in a statement.
The organizations also gave out a Schleppie Award to the city's least reliable bus route: the B12, which services 7,965 daily weekday riders between Lefferts Gardens and East New York, Brooklyn.
The Schleppie Award is specifically based on a line’s “bunching” practices, which is when riders have to wait a longer than scheduled time for a ride and end up seeing several buses show up at the same time.
"[The practice] gives many riders an uneasy sense that daily service is coming on an unreliable and unplanned basis," reads the press release. "Practically, it could mean showing up late for a family dinner or having to make up for a missed college class."
In addition to holding officials accountable for their transit-related drawbacks, our favorite part of the annual ranking is the actual awards given out. The slowest bus route receives a golden snail on a pedestal while the most unreliable one is awarded a golden, lumbering elephant on a stand.
They certainly deserve a trophy of their own for humor.