This Bus is Slower Than a Lava Flow

Thursday, December 11, 2014 – 10:30 AM
By Kate Hinds

Source: Transportation Nation

Actually, sledding across 79th Street might have been faster (Kris Arnold/flickr)

Actually, sledding across 79th Street might have been faster (Kris Arnold/flickr)

This year’s Pokey for New York City’s slowest bus line goes to the M79, with an average speed of 3.2 miles per hour.

“I’d think twice before trying to evacuate from an erupting volcano in an M79 bus,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, which organizes the ‘awards‘ (a golden snail on a pedestal) with Transportation Alternatives. “Fleeing on foot would be faster, with an average human walking speed of about 3.5 MPH.” For the purposes of comparison, the fastest recorded Hawaiian lava flow was about 6 MPH.

(When it comes to the Pokeys, Russianoff enjoys employing metaphors: last year, he advised riders on the M42 to take a wooden rowboat instead.)

The M79 runs crosstown between 79th and 81st streets in Manhattan. The city’s next-slowest bus was the Bx19, which goes between the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and Harlem at an average speed of 4.8 MPH.

Straphangers and Transportation Alternatives award the Pokeys to spur improvement of the city’s transit service. But in the press release, they called out some bright spots.

“There is real hope for dramatic improvement in Mayor de Blasio’s plan to build a rapid network of 20 ‘Select Bus Service/Bus Rapid Transit’ routes,” said Paul Steely White, the head of Transportation Alternatives. He noted that the city’s existing SBS routes are, generally speaking, faster and more reliable than traditional bus lines.

Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson for the MTA, said “MTA NYC Transit always appreciates the Straphangers’ and their insightful reports, and in this case, their acknowledgment of improved service along routes where we have implemented Select Bus Service…Aside from the seven current SBS routes, plans are currently underway for the roll-out of SBS service along four other corridors, including an additional crosstown route. We are also continuing to work with the New York City Department of Transportation to increase the number of bus lanes and locations where buses would have traffic signal priority. 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.”


Here in the Windy City we used to call our bus service Rapid Transit. Really!

But why complain about slow motor vehicles? Isn’t that the point of all the Road Diets and such? Slowing down motor vehicles makes them, ‘safer‘? Right?

Something tells me the Active Transportation Alliance will need to investigate the near impossibility of using Mass Transit to get somewhere fast while maintaining a slow enough speed that cyclist merely get a gentle massage during collisions.