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You can literally walk faster than the MTA’s slowest bus

Written by
Clayton Guse

If you thought riding the subway was a pain, try riding the M42 bus.

According to a report compiled by the Bus Turnaround Coalition, that midtown route provides the slowest MTA bus service in the entire city. With an average speed of 3.5 miles per hour, it moves slower than the brisk pace that the bulk of New Yorkers walk at.

The grassroots transit advocacy group published the dismal speed as a part of its bus report cards, which digs into MTA data and grades the quality of service on the 246 New York City Transit buses operating in the five boroughs. The ratings take into account both the reliability of a bus route and its on-time performance. In total, 89 of those routes (or 36 percent) received a failing grade. Just two received an A: the Q35, which runs between Flatbush and the Rockaways, and the BX29, which serves City Island in the Bronx. 

The report paints a troubling picture for a transit system that has already declared a state of emergency for the subway and echoes another report published by Comptroller Scott Stringer last November that showed just how bad bus service in New York City has gotten over the past decade. That data showed that the average speed of MTA buses citywide is just 7.4 miles per hour and dips to just 5.5 miles per hour in Manhattan. It also notes that annual ridership on the system has dropped by 100 million since 2009 as increased congestion has made the bus a terribly inefficient transit option in many parts of the city.

Stringer’s report laid out a list of prospective solutions to hurry up bus service across New York, including installing out more dedicated bus lanes and rolling out transit signal priority, which would reprogram traffic lights to flip to green when a bus is approaching. Just the same, the Bus Turnaround Coalition put forth its own set of solutions to the troubling issue, ranging from ambitiously redesigning the MTA’s bus network to simply increasing transparency about bus performance. 

Even with the dip in ridership, roughly 2 million people ride MTA buses on an average weekday. And while it's very intriguing, this report simply gives a more thorough breakdown of what every New Yorker already knows: Transit in this city absolutely sucks. 

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