The slowest buses in town

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City’s most sluggish routes include M42, M31 and M57, report says


  • The M31 bus travels at an average speed of 4.14 mph, making it the second-slowest bus route in New York, a new report from Comptroller Scott Stringer says. Photo: Michael Garofalo

Several crosstown bus routes in Manhattan are among the New York’s slowest, according to a report on the city’s bus system by Comptroller Scott Stringer. The report found that New York buses are the slowest of any big city in the country, traveling at an average speed of 7.4 mph citywide and 5.5 mph in Manhattan.

The slowest bus in the city, the report says, is the M42, which travels from Pier 83 to the United Nations complex along 42nd Street at an average speed of just 3.90 mph. By comparison, a 2007 study found that New York pedestrians walk at an average speed of 3.4 mph.

After the M42, the next three slowest routes are all crosstown buses that carry passengers between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side: the M31 (4.14 mph), the M57 (4.17 mph) and the M66 (4.25 mph). The M42, M31 and M66 buses were among several routes subjected to service cuts in September by the MTA, which cited the need to more accurately align bus frequency with customer demand. Bus advocates have countered that poor service contributes to reduced ridership, as would-be passengers opt for other modes of transportation when the wait for the bus becomes too long.

Bus ridership is down 16 percent in Manhattan since 2011, according to the report. Stringer calls on the MTA and Transportation Department to make various changes to enhance bus service, including improvements in the design and enforcement of dedicated bus lanes, expedited implementation of traffic signals that give green light priority to buses, and an overhaul of scheduling guidelines coupled with an increase in bus frequency in off-peak hours.

“The bus system and our riders are the victims of a crisis,” MTA Chairman Joe Lhota wrote in an emailed statement. “Traffic congestion and New York City’s consistent inability to manage traffic flow and enforce existing traffic laws on its streets is killing our bus service and hurting bus riders. The proper and progressive way to deal with the scourge of traffic is for everyone to support a responsible congestion pricing plan. Traffic congestion is keeping the most reliable and advanced bus fleet in recent history from moving as efficiently as it can and should.”

Among the key officials tasked with improving bus service is Andy Byford, who was named as the new president of MTA New York City Transit in November. Byford, who previously headed Toronto’s mass transit system, will also be responsible for implementing Lhota’s action plan to stabilize and modernize the city’s ailing subway system.

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